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The Highs & Lows of Crowdfunding! Part 3

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Searching for a Win!

A young woman standing out in a crowd looking a little unhappy.

Photo by Justice Amoh on Unsplash

Thinking more significantly, I wanted to contribute once again to a couple of larger ticket items. I had some minor success and now seemed like the right time to branch out once again. Given my recent interest in E-Bikes, an opportunity came upon me which checked several boxes of “wants” by myself.

I had recently converted my Trek mountain bike to an electric bike. The thrill of being able to off-road with a battery assist was something I had wanted to do for quite some time. This was most likely fueled by the pandemic and the inescapable feeling of being trapped. An E-Bike was almost a ticket for liberation as being outside seemed to be a good distraction. Unfortunately, converting my mountain bike created a 70 to 80lb heavy piece of equipment. Hardly the easily portable unit I could use in all situations. Enter the Rocket Bike. Rocket Bike played their cards right with the specific target marketing employed when seeking me out. In October of 2020, I made my next crowdfunding contribution.

Two happy people conversing on their Rocket Bikes.

Rocket Bike (media by Rocket)

The product had a 100-mile range, provided the user pedal-assisted through the process. Early backers could pay the company $899, saving $100 off the crowdfunding price and more than 55% off the MSRP of $1997. The pricing continues to rise given the accessories one is compelled to add to the order. I partook in adding the fenders and the rack with brake lights. This brought my total closer to $1200, still well below other e-bikes in the marketplace with similar options. The unit is a fat tire bike continuing the ability to go over all terrain. Sticking with the idea of portability, the bike can be folded nearly in half and thrown in the back of your car. I was extremely pleased with this option as I wanted to employ this bike to commute between our distanced buildings at work.

The bike was feature-rich, including regenerative brakes, a 28MPH maximum speed, 5 stage pedal assist, a removable/lockable hidden battery, and a built-in suspension. Rocket Bike is also equipped with hydraulic disc brakes, which are more than adequate to ensure safe stopping when traveling at higher speeds. Also, a plus, the bike is available in a plethora of colors. I believe I opted for the basic black version, which fell within my comfort zone.

Estimated delivery was targeted for February of 2021, and I was eager to have this item for the start of Spring. Keeping with the theme of start-ups and new product introductions, the product was delayed until July 2021. Not ideal, but it was still in time for a mid-summer ride. The delay could be attributed to many things, including motor failures, frame issues, braking issues, etc. Each update alluded to improvements being made and possible future delays. Where are we currently? Estimated delivery of mid-December. Do I feel confident about this date? Not really, but I will keep you updated in future posts.

My next contribution was on a bit of a smaller scale, but still intriguing nonetheless. I took the plunge and bought into the idea of the Bird Buddy. I was late jumping on this bandwagon while contributing in April of 2021 with an estimated October 2021. Just in time for a fall run of bird watching. The unit sold for $189 to buy in, and if you bought 2, you could save 20%. All in, I had $350 invested in two units, one for myself and a possible gift for a family member.

A blue bird feeder with camera built in.

media by Bird Buddy

I loved the idea of actually being able to identify the birds visiting our trees daily. The Bird Buddy was available in two colors, blue and yellow. It was easy to fill with food, and the appeal was a smart-enabled camera with a microphone. The unit could be synchronized with the Bird Buddy application and alert the owner to a bird visitor. Pictures of the visitors would be taken and organized into an album to be viewed and shared. I have included a few samples below. More importantly, the birds would be identified by either sound or picture. A notification can be sent to your smart device, alerting you of any bird visitor. The promise of a connected bird community sharing photos and information of birds was also quite appealing. I was instantly sold!

Unfortunately, as with the Rocket Bike, supply chain issues, application delays, and other obstacles have now pushed out the estimated shipment date to Spring of 2022. Again, start-ups companies seem to have severe problems with taking a concept from inception to production. Rocket Bike had seemingly working units shown in a video back in 2020. The idea of them having units ready to go by Spring many months later seemed quite feasible. The Bird Buddy seemed to have a good structure in the early going. I still have high hopes for both these products, but given my previous experience, I know the risks. In a way, contributing to a project on these crowdfunding sites is a gamble. The goal is

Picture of an eating red bird.

media by BirdBuddy

to win and receive the item you contributed, but consider it a win when you “break even.”

Part 4 Just Added

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