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Backing Out of a Kickstarter Doesn’t Have to Leave Funders Hanging

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I received a message earlier this week from a Kickstarter that I backed. They were backing out on their pledges. At first, I was concerned, but as I read, I found this to be the most elegant way to back out of a Kickstarter ever.

The Kickstarter in question is castAR, an augemnted reality startup that we’ve talked about and demoed in the past. Their focus is on hardware, and the product is an augmented reality display system. Check out some of the stories in the side bar to get the back story. Here, I’ll focus on the future.

Their latest update was the following message:

Technical Illusions wrapped up our castAR Kickstarter campaign a bit over two years ago. We can safely say that it was your enthusiasm that made Technical Illusions’ castAR one of the first Kickstarter projects to raise over a million dollars. Kickstarting castAR provided us with the foundation that Jeri and I used to begin building both a company and the castAR product. During the last two years we’ve learned a lot about the market we are in, how to put a business together, and the expectations set forth by you, our Backers.

In the last few months we’ve debated internally how we can best meet those expectations. On one hand, it’s become clear that many Backers want a product with full software experiences. On the other, our Kickstarter campaign was designed to deliver hardware that would be much more suited for developers looking to create those experiences. Simultaneously, we’ve been working on a consumer product that will deliver the experience many Backers have been expressing they want. But the reality is that a consumer product has a much more complex development cycle.

After much internal debate, we’ve decided to give everyone who was expecting castAR hardware a free pair of consumer castAR at release and will be fully reimbursing your Kickstarter backings if you follow the process we describe in a FAQ. You believed in us, so you get a castAR for free once the consumer product is released. To further express our appreciation, we’d also like to send you a couple small thank you gifts designed just for you, our Backers. We wear our Kickstarter success as a badge of honor, and we hope you will too. The link to the FAQ at the bottom of this update will explain the details.

We certainly would not be where we’re at without your generous support and trust. Respecting you and your expectations has been our guiding principle as we’ve discussed our next move. You committed to castAR with your emotional and financial support and we want to make sure we honor that commitment by showing you the same respect and commitment to you. We want to give you what you want to the best of our ability, and not unduly hang on to your backing while we work to make it happen.

Jeri and I want to sincerely thank you for embarking on this journey with us. The entire process has been very humbling and we have especially enjoyed interacting with all of you. At the start of any journey it is not always exactly clear where you might end up. While we’ve made some mistakes and course corrections along the way we think that they will ultimately lead to a better product.

Jeri and I aren’t going away and we will always make time to ensure that your questions are answered and that your comments are received. Always feel free to email Jeri [jeri@castar.com] or me [rick@castar.com] directly.

Once again, you’ve made this all possible. We’re excited to be sharing castAR’s success with our greatest and most trusted supporters.

Jeri & Rick

Let me summarize this a bit for you.

They’re refunding all the backers who were supposed to get a unit, and they’re going to send them a nicer commercial unit for free as soon as they’re available. I can’t think of a more elegant way to handle this situation.

Sure, some people might be a little upset that they won’t be receiving the development kit they were expecting, and they’ll have to wait a little longer to get the commercial unit. I suspect that more people will be happy with this action, though.

As for me, I have already received my reward and they can’t take that from me!

My name on the CastAR dev kit PCB
My name on the castAR dev kit PCB

 

8 thoughts on “Backing Out of a Kickstarter Doesn’t Have to Leave Funders Hanging

  1. I’m a bit frustrated with the crowdfunding sites (not the model). I have backed several projects that went awesome. The aftershox (indiegogo) one went flawlessly. However I have had others that went south. Right now I have 7 kickstarters that have delivered the reward, 1 that failed and they told us why, 1 that is still updating and working and 1 that has decided they don’t need to communicate with us. On indiegogo I have 1 that has delivered, 2 that are currently working and updating and 1 that that has decided they don’t need to communicate with us. I guess 14% shouldn’t be that bad, but the way the funding sites handle the failed projects sucks!!!

    I understand that I am backing an idea a company has and that I really am not pre-ordering something. The hitch is that they do promise me a reward. I backed the Cabin magnetic charge adapter, dock and battery by HEVO Labs (Estimated Delivery November 2015). I liked the idea and so I backed them for $129. Everything looked good, they were somewhat updating us on progress, in fact the sent a message to request shipping addresses in August and I thought I would get it. Boy was I wrong. The last update was titled “Giving up has never been an option for Hevo Labs” which was posted Aug 22, 2015. After that post they have gone dark. Backers are trying to get a hold of the company and nothing. The parent company now sells a product named Cabin Dock that is exactly what we the backers were supposed to get. So this company took the backer money, promised us a product, developed a product and is now selling said product, and we the backers are left empty handed.

    The reason I am frustrated with the sites (indiegogo and kickstarter) is that they hide behind there terms of service. They connect a scam artist with me, take my money, take a 5% cut and give the money to said scam artist. When people complain to them they say, take it up with the scammer. I think it is time that they change there terms to protect better the individuals who are supporting their business model instead of the companies who are making off with my money and giving me empty promises.

    Maybe I should stop backing projects and just buy products when they come out, except that I like the idea of helping a product come to market faster. Dilemma dilemma.

    1. I strongly suggest not “backing projects”. You don’t get that you were a microinvestor- and you stand the chance of getting NADA out of it. You still don’t get it and clearly probably WON’T get it based on your remark.

      1. I actually do get it. Like I said in my comment I have had projects fail and the companies communicated that to the backers. Like any investor, I expect the company I invest in to communicate with me and be transparent. When I buy stock in the company I expect to see the earnings reports and the end of the quarter. I only want communication from the people I am investing money in. That’s all.

    2. To be honest with you, this is why I don’t back just any project that I think is cool, but only those from people who I already have faith in. As far as I’m concerned, Indiegogo and Kickstarter are just user interfaces/credit card processors/order trackers for the people proposing the projects. I’ll my friend’s band, or Reading Rainbow, or my friend’s book, the clothing line of a person whose sewing blog I have been following for years, etc., but I’m not going to fund a project without first looking into the reliability of the person creating it.

    3. I have run 2 successful projects on Kickstarter for Sci Fi books I have written and I am currently running a 3rd. I had no problem fulfilling my backers rewards, these are small projects with little promotion. But I see that there has been a serious loss of trust and interest in KS. There’s a huge difference in the amount of interest and contributors between 2013, 2014, and now. I had a lot of people interested in my first project and was successful and I had no junk mail promoters offering me their services. during this campaign I have had about a dozen emails contacting telling me they will promote my project, most haven’t even read my project and offer things that don’t apply to a $500 book launch. I have backed several projects my self and have had no problems receiving rewards but I’m not sure I will in the future which is sad because I really enjoyed the personal connection I was able to make to readers with it. I hope they can find some ways to rebuild their reputation and filter the spam.

  2. I’m a bit confused. You pledged money to support the project and as a premium they etched your name on the board of the dev kit… the dev kit that’s not being shipped. Did they ship early to folks who opted for that perk?

  3. As long as they publish the SDK and it’s FOSS friendly or FOSS-ed, I wouldn’t give a damn. This is class.

    To those commenting about not understanding…

    THIS WAS AN INVESTMENT. They didn’t get to where they talked to (in fact, they went well beyond…but in a way that it wasn’t realistic or practical to give the perks in question)- this is no different than the project failing and returning their money to the investors.

    Stop bitching about perks not given. They could’ve just refunded the money, or not at all, amongst other things. If you don’t understand the nature of investing, you REALLY should not be investing, to be brutally blunt.

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