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The Highs & Lows of Crowdfunding! Part 1

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

I Was Searching for a Win!

A crowd of people putting their hands into the middle as if to form a “team”.

Crowdfunding was always appealing to me, as it was exciting to see what technological ideas someone could bring to the market based on monies invested by Joe Public. Someone could build a better mousetrap, market the item themselves on sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, and people like myself could buy in. Generally speaking, you could buy in with a “contribution to the project at a discounted amount to receive one of the first units off the production line. There was always the option of just donating to the cause with a few dollars, and you could feel good about being an original backer.

Crowdfunding is always a hit or miss type situation, and I learned this early in the process. One of my first ventures was with plastic. It was a credit card to take the place of all of your credit cards. In essence, it would allow you to store all of your credit cards onto a credit card. The unit would unlock as long as it was in proximity with your smart device.

Electronic smart credit card.

media by now-defunct plastc

The features promised of this device made it a straightforward decision. In 2014, as this was my first contribution to a crowdfunded site, I honestly did not hesitate in plunking down the $150 needed to hold my place in line. It guaranteed me a lifetime subscription to the service just by being an early backer. MSRP would be $180 with an annual fee of $50 to maintain the plastic subscription. Any early backer would be grandfathered into the program. The card was equipped with e-ink technology and could display all of the details of the credit card you were using at the time. It had NFC technology, and you could tap to pay at any capable location. For added security, it had a lockdown feature. When handing it off to a retailer, the lockdown mode would only display the last four digits of the card. This was Apple Pay before it even existed, but it revolved around a physical credit card device.

Ultimately, this was one of those too good to be true ideas. Each update from the company spelled out the promise of a product which would revolutionize the industry. It had so many features, which required so many manufacturing tweaks and improvements. Each update would illustrate a supposed difficulty and solution. Ultimately, money became the companies undoing. In April of 2017, the company ceased all operations and filed for bankruptcy. There would be no refunds and no recourse. What once seemed very promising was immediately wiped away.

My first venture was a miss, albeit a few years in the making. Perhaps things would have been different had they found good financial backing. It was apparent the crowdfunded support was not enough to meet the promises they had made. It could also have been delaying the inevitable, which was a product too advanced for its time. I have not seen anything compare as we still use credit cards and still use our phones. My second venture was an item made for my iPhone. It was advertised fast and furiously on social networking sites and seemed to be another “no-brainer.”

The item was popSlate 2. It was a case made with e-ink capability, and it promised a second screen for your phone. Early backers could contribute $69 and beat the $99 standard price. They hit their funding goal immediately, and it seemed to be a foregone conclusion we would have this item by the estimated delivery date of July 2016.

e-ink display case for iPhone.

media by now-defunct popSLATE

What a great concept they had. An e-ink display was built into the case. The display could show weather, flight information, books, calendars, etc. The display would always be on and would have its independent battery system to not use the main phone battery. It would double as a battery backup for your phone, potentially doubling your battery time. What was promising was the existence of a working prototype, as stated by the Indiegogo site. There were so many positives; it was easy to overlook the many delays experienced.

The company had an impressive video commercial showing the features and benefits of the device. What appears to have been the company’s undoing was reaching too high too fast. This unit was developed around an already complex device, the iPhone, and repeated device failures required more money to engineer the “fix.” The last update we received involved more engineering/device failures and a lack of financial funds, to make a long story short. They would be dissolving the company, no monies were available for refunds, and would give no future updates. If you contributed to the campaign, you were “out of luck.”

I had contributed twice and had nothing to show for my efforts. As I later learned, this was a pretty normal occurrence. For every failed contribution, you would most likely find something you would succeed in. I was looking for my first success and was anxious to find it. Part 2

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