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Caveat Backer

Caveat Backer

Is This Overfunded Sandals Project the Biggest Kickstarter Flop Yet?

vere fire 2

Bad news for those among Vere Sandals’ 1,091 backers on Kickstarter who still haven’t received their footwear: The factory caught on fire and your sandals may have gotten burned up. Really.

At least Vere’s creators are offering to negotiate “options” to fulfill its obligations to backers and has refunded some pledges. Because the situation at this point is best described as a quagmire. The creators posted a request for funds in January, 2011, saying they had the equipment and the experience necessary to make a bunch of sweet, eco-friendly flip-flops right here in the U.S.A. (“I LOVE FLIP FLOPS!!” one backer commented at the time.) But the Geneva, New York-based operation has struggled monumentally with actually making and shipping sandals for a year and a half after raising $56,618 of its $12,000 goal. Read More

Caveat Backer

Guy Behind Kickstarter Video Game Scam Isn’t Even a Game Developer, Former Employer Says

"Seth Westfall," the creator and cofounder of "Little Monster Productions." (kickstarter.com)

The man behind the Kickstarter campaign for a game that raised a few thousand dollars before being revealed as a plagiarizer may not even be a game developer, Betabeat has learned.

In a Kickstarter campaign, a man who identifies himself as Seth Westphal claims to be the founder and CEO of an independent gaming studio called Little Monsters Productions. The art for the proposed game was cribbed from other artists on the web and the photos of Little Monsters studios were taken from another independent gaming studio, Burton Design Group.

This morning we spoke with Alfonzo Burton, CEO and creative director of Burton Design Group, who claims to be Mr. Westphal’s former employer.

Mr. Westphal was an office manager, not a game developer, Mr. Burton said, and he was fired in “released from our studio back in February for noncompliance.” Mr. Westphal came in late, didn’t get work done, and didn’t follow procedure, Mr. Burton said. “Seth Westphal is a fraud. Don’t pay him for any games. He’s not a game developer.” Read More

Caveat Backer

This Is What a Kickstarter Scam Looks Like

mythic

When Kickstarter projects go wrong, backers often think they’ve been scammed; usually, the creators simply overpromised. But a campaign for an action video game, MYTHIC: The Story Of Gods and Men, has just been busted by forum users at Reddit, SomethingAwful and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. The creators claimed to be an independent studio, “Little Monster Productions,” of 12 industry veterans in Hollywood. “Our team has done a significant amount of work on the World of Warcraft series as well as Diablo 2 and the original Starcraft,” says the project page.

Bullshit, said the Internet. Turns out the art was cribbed, the text for backer rewards was copied and pasted from another Kickstarter project, and even the office photos were from another game studio, Burton Design Group. Read More

Caveat Backer

Oh, So Here’s Why Kickstarter Lets Projects Get Overfunded

"Double Fine Adventure" cocreator Tim Schafer, with Cookie Monster. (Kickstarter)

We mourned the loss of a few good jellyfish earlier this month when an overfunded Kickstarter-backed jellyfish tank proved fatal. At the time, we noted that with many Kickstarter projects that go wrong, the effect is amplified if the project has been overfunded. It’s like when a startup has too many investors in a round. Falling behind on sandal shipments? It’s going to cause you way more heartache if  you have thousands of anxious backers in the wings wondering what you’ve done with their money.

Why does Kickstarter let projects get overfunded, we wonder? Why not just get to the goal and then stop? Read More

Caveat Backer

Jellyfish Tanks, Funded 54 Times Over on Kickstarter, Turn Out to Be Jellyfish Death Traps [UPDATED]

The Desktop Jellyfish Tank. (http://www.jellyfishart.com)

There are two problems with the Desktop Jellyfish Tank, a Kickstarter project based in San Francisco that raised $162,917 on a $3,000 goal.

The first problem is that some people still haven’t gotten their tanks. Wrote one backer, in a kind of free-form customer service poetry: “Where do I find out where my order is everone seems to have their tank now apart from me get highly fed up I either want to know exactly how long it will be or want a refund seems stupid I was one of the first to back but last to get it can some please help me it seems madness to I paid months ago and not even a email since.”

Second problem: Some backers who have received tanks have found that, while aesthetically attractive, the tanks may not be the safest place for a jellyfish.  “I lost one jellyfish already do to him hitting the rocks and then eventually getting stuck over and over,” backer Christopher Mendes wrote. “The past 2 mornings I’v woken up to find the other jellyfish to start doing the same thing. This morning he looked shrunken and crippled after getting out of the rocks.”

The newly-arrived jellies of Lana Vaughn didn’t fare much better: “Two Jellies in distress. One got stuck to the rocks. He got loose but has a big tear. Not sure how the other one got his tear. Third one is fine so far.”

But backer Sean Byington’s comment is the most tragic, and the most damning: “Came home to find that my replacement jellyfish had died a mere 3 days after recieving them, that’s a total of 6 dead now. I’m really disappointed in this product. Despite following all the instructions included with the tank as well as on jellyfishart.com, the tank seems incapable of sustaining life for more than 72 hours.” Read More

Caveat Backer

Investor in Kickstarter, the Company, Decries ‘The Worst Project I’ve Funded’ on Kickstarter

Mr. Haughey. (http://a.wholelottanothing.org/)

MetaFilter founder Matt Haughey had a bad experience on Kickstarter, and like those before him, he blogged about it. But as an experienced backer, and with a note of caution for project creators rather than a wag of the finger at Kickstarter (he’s a “very small” investor in the startup). “Lessons for Kickstarter creators from the worst project I ever funded on Kickstarter” is the title of this story, and it’s about a pretty iPhone case that took too long to make and then didn’t work. Read More

Caveat Backer

When Kickstarter Goes Wrong: Were 419 Backers Almost Taken for a $27,637 Ride?

tech sync power

About a month ago, there was a $2,000 Kickstarter project called the Tech Sync Power System, a system for controlling home lights from mobile devices over a wifi connection. The project creator, registered as Steven Washington from Chesapeake, VA, said he was working on a team of six people and promised to ship mobile apps and hardware to backers who contributed as little as $20.

The project was popular, racking up $27,637, ten times the amount asked. But almost immediately, there was skepticism. “Tech Sync Power System, Too Good To Be True? Most Likely a Scam,” wrote one blogger and Kickstarter user who claimed to have put together a more rudimentary version of the system, but for $50 per unit. Backers asked for images, video, anything that would verify a working prototype. Mr. Washington declined, citing the patent process: “Due to the pending copyright, and patent process, we don’t have screen shots of our software, or more photos of our prototypes available yet, also we are working to finish off the UI in our software. Once that has completed, we will be sure to post more photos, videos and screen shots.”

Betabeat found no pending patent applications in Mr. Washington’s name. Read More