The crowdfunding bubble has well and truly burst

I'm just bored of it all now
The crowdfunding bubble has burst

Crowdfunding is one of the biggest buzz words of the last five years. But while platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have helped the likes of Pebble, Oculus Rift and the Canary cam project find their way into mainstream consciousness, I believe that crowdfunding has had its day.

Sure, there are still some potentially groundbreaking ideas landing on the platforms – but they are buried beneath a deluge of non-starters, high-profile pre-order campaigns and, most worryingly, pie in the sky bogus pitches that have no chance of seeing the light of day in the real world.

Every week on Wareable we update our pick of the most exciting projects seeking backers' cash. With so many new wearable tech and connected self products hitting the sites each week, it's a job just sifting through the potential wheat from the obvious chaff. There's a tonne of clear non-runners.

PetPhone - the world's first personal music player for pets… what the?

A $125 Android Wear smartwatch with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage… clearly not gonna happen.

Silver anti-radiation underwear… just, no.

You get the idea.

The trouble – and the reason I'm losing faith in the whole shebang – is that more often than not, even after carefully considering what campaigns to cover (frequently campaigns that also receive widespread media coverage elsewhere) the projects end up with disappointing endings.

Successfully backed campaigns often end up being massively delayed and shipping months (or even years) later than expected (see Skully AR-1, Fineck and Kokoon). And as we're noticing more frequently, projects that smash their goals never materialise, leaving backers frustrated and out-of-pocket, despite promises of refunds (see Hiris, AmpStrip and Boldr).

Worryingly, Indiegogo has no qualms in letting projects go live that have already had a run, and been successful, on Kickstarter. That baffles me.

Kuai Sport Headphones featured as one of our weekly crowdfunding picks when the original campaign went live on Kickstarter. The group behind those contacted us to ask why we weren't covering its new campaign on Indiegogo. Why would we? Why would we recommend to our readers that they back a secondary project when units from the original project have missed the November 2015 shipping estimate by six months and counting?

Crowdfunding is key for startups that may not otherwise have a stage big enough to shout about their ideas. But it's just not working at the moment. Kickstarter is stricter, on paper at least, than Indiegogo – but the measures it takes to make sure backed projects become real world products clearly don't work. The whole thing needs a total rethink.

Another reason I think that the Kickstarting era is coming to a close is the success Pebble enjoys on the platform. Why is Pebble still crowdfunding? Behind Apple and Samsung, it is the most successful smartwatch company on the planet (despite reported money worries) so why is it still launching products onto a site that, in that site's own words "helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality"?

Does Pebble really need resources and support to launch more smartwatches? Couldn't it just set-up pre-orders on and raise the cash it needs that way? You know, like a normal company would?

It's nothing more than a big PR charade, and I'm bored of it.

I'm bored of it all. I'm bored of the clearly fake products. I'm bored of the big ideas that don't live up to the hype. I'm bored of the delays and mountain of negative feedback comments. I'm bored of the phrase "Pebble smashes Kickstarter record".

Bored. Of. It. All.

Still, make sure you bookmark Crowdfund this – our weekly pick of the best tech projects seeking your backing. It goes live every Wednesday.

Tell me that I'm wrong or jump aboard my good ship abandon crowdfunding in the comments below…


  • Eylon-Mogilner says:

    I almost have no experience using crowdfunding ..

    However, I can tell you, that as a developer of an intra-vaginal probe for incontinence (academics), I looked around on the

    crowdfunding sites and saw many clones of clones of quite basic products to start with, that offer some internet "cloud" connectivity instead of quality or innovation. and when I mean innovation I intend ways to make the Biofeedback more reliable and meaningful to the users.

    Some regulations have to come in place, in order to make this

    crowdfunding phenomenon a sustainable culture. 

    • p.lamkin says:

      I think we need to hear more about that probe.

  • Geek_News says:

    I still like the original premise behind these sites, which was giving those up-starts a platform to be seen. The problem is that as you mentioned it has been long since replaced with far too many totally outlandish, and IMO far fetched ideas and companies that are clearly using it for the free PR or a total no risk opportunity (Pebble and others). I've honestly been really surprised that we haven't started seeing some sort of government intervention as of yet, though I'd hate to see it, for some of the more blatant 'scams'!

    I don't think the bubble has totally bust yet and I don't think Kickstarter and the likes are going to worry about it, after all they get their cut no matter what, but I'd like to see them tightening the stings a little more so that some of those up-starts still have a platform with which they can springboard. Just without the total none-sense - the 50k potato salad!!

  • Rodd says:

    Totally in. More and more companies are just creating incredible visuals to sell products that will never exist and play with consumer minds. As you said this situation needs to be rethink 

    Great article. 

  • ImmaBored2 says:

    Despite numerous requests, suggestions, and challenges to Kickstarter & Indiegogo to rethink their positions on creator accountabilities and the whole failure/scam/take-funder's-money-and-run scenarios, none have taken the challenge or made an effort to come up with something creative.

    Instead they parrot policy absolving them of any responsibility in the tone of, "We warned you!" So you can't put this in us. That may be so, but with such an obviously flawed platform and a growing list of failures looking for a bigger graveyard, is it in their own best interest to continue such a policy and watch their crowdfunders get picked-off by the thousands, as in this case with the Skully AR-1?

    Respectively, I wouldn't bat an eyelash seeing Kickstarter & Indiegogo get kicked to the curb & gogo down the drain for their complete disregard for their funder's welfare. It's truly time for different crowdfunding that -does- hold their funder's interests in high regard and -does- have a solution that will significantly filter the Losers, Fakers, & Inexperienced.

    What amazes me is how not one of these is setup to interview, coach, & test their creators to meet guidelines that assure they can deliver what they promise on. And enough about "oh those are just rewards, we don't guarantee you'll get them, and they're not products for purchase" Bull$hit. Backers want the products the creators are promoting and asking them to put down their hard-earned cash for, despite what's in the platform's fine print. Otherwise the whole concept of crowdfunding would collapse, as it likely will anyway if things continue unbridled in this direction.

    How many times have you heard a creator confess & apologize, "I'm sorry, we had no idea how difficult & expensive it would be to proto, tool, & manufacture with an overseas CM so our deliveries will be delayed" or "we've run out of funds" ?? 

    There are plenty out there with business savvy and experience working with local & overseas CM's, packaging, and shipping. There's no excuse for letting any applicant get thru that lacks this experience or after being tutored and recalculating can assure their figures are correct before being permitted to launch a campaign; after all, their failures become negative advertisements & testimony to the preferability of on crowdfunding platform over another.

    "Caveat emptor", cest la vre?

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