I admit it, one of my favorite nerdy past times is checking in on Kickstarter campaigns to see how things are moving, if deadlines are being met, and if backers are being satiated with updates in the case that deadlines are slipping.
While it's not smart home, one of my favorites to watch is Agent Watch. The reason I check in every so often on their campaign is I think its a fascinating and instructive look at how even the most capable campaign creator can sometimes meet significant challenges in delivering product. Chris Walker, the creator of the campaign and a legitimate technologist by any stretch (his company created Netduino, an Arduino-like alternative open source hardware platform), launched the campaign in spring of 2013, promised delivery of the watch in the pre-Apple Watch era of January 2014, and of today has yet to deliver. The backers are up in arms, and I can't blame them (though I think their attempts to bring fraud cases against a creator like Chris are misguided - nothing is guaranteed with crowdfunding).
Now I don't check in on campaigns like Chris's with any sense of schadenfreude; if anything, I like to root for the small guy. But crowdfunding campaigns are fascinating to watch unfold, and this one, as well as a few others, hold so many lessons for creators and market watchers alike.
Which brings me to the Sesame Smart Lock. From all outward appearances, the campaign looks legit and, if I were a betting man, I'd guess the product eventually ships. But the product has slipped past its original promised ship dates, which was May 2015, and as of now the company (Candy House) has been fairly regular updates on what the hold-up is.
According to the latest update from the Kickstarter campaign, the company has experienced some issues as they adjusted their design, which led to them having to create new molds for production, which then to a re-design on their motors and power units. Again, it all seems plausible, and maybe normal, but at the same time the natives are beginning to get restless.
The backer-worry came to my notice with this comment on a post I wrote about Sesame.
Did you verify that they are legit business. When I do background check it’s a young 20 year kid from China living in Palo Alto, CA with an address showing an apartment complex. Us backers on Kickstarter are still waiting to hear something and we get nothing.
Now I don't know much about Candy House, and I have no reason to doubt because it's a young entrepreneur from China that it makes any difference at all. The reality is, many crowdfunding entrepreneurs are young and from many different regions. That's the reason their using crowdfunding: it gives them access to capital to deliver their vision and product to the world.
The point I am making by pointing to this comment is that it shows that backers start to get restless quickly, and as a result often will start digging around wondering where their money went. If you have any doubt, check out the comment section to see the beginning of a mob mentality beginning to form.
When I look at the Sesame smart lock, it doesn't appear exotic or have a technical detail, like embedded Wi-F in the lock as an example (I'm looking at you, Goji), that would be a potential backbreaker. So again, I expect that things are just as they say.
But for any startup in the smart home space looking at crowdfunding, it's worth watching how companies like Candy House handle this, and how backers react when timelines start to slip.
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