Sesame Smart Lock Missing Ship Date, Backers Get Restless

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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  • Rick

    Definitely a scam. They took hard earned money from investors and instead of fulfilling their promises to their backers, took the product and started selling them on Amazon. Tainted me for the whole kickstarter funding campaign. Everyone should flood social media about this company’s morals

  • CharityJoy

    Dec 5th, 2016… still nothing.
    But it’s available to ship from Amazon and you can have it within 48 hours!

    Candy House is a fucking dick.

  • Jim

    For those arriving from Google wondering if Sesame is a scam, here’s my story: I placed a preorder on their website in June of 2015 (not a backer on Kickstarter). I think the business has different obligations to those who preorder than crowdfunding backers. Backers shouldn’t necessarily expect much. People placing preorders should absolutely expect a product, clear communication, and a timeline. It is nearly a year later, and Candy House has my money, and I do not have a Sesame smart lock. Here’s the basic timeline:

    6/18/15 – I place my order, my receipt says it is estimated to ship in June
    7/23/15 – I receive an update that says to expect delivery in August/September
    10/13/15 – Another update with an apology and an expected ship date of “by the end of this month”
    12/6/15 – I reply, asking for an update
    12/6/15 – I receive a response explaining that due to manufacturing delays, the delivery time for my order has been postponed to March 2016. They offer me a refund. (I don’t reply – the refund offer makes them seem more legitimate. I’m not happy about the delay, but figure I can wait a few more months)
    4/4/16 – I ask for an update
    4/9/16 – I ask for an update
    4/12/16 – I ask for an update
    5/6/16 – I ask for an update

    I haven’t heard from them since that e-mail back in December. From the looks of their kickstarter campaign, only some of the backers have received their locks, and one of the components has never been received by anyone (the wifi access point).

    Candy House has an F with the BBB because they have never replied to any of the 9 complaints against them.

    Maybe it’s a scam. Maybe they’re in over their heads. I really don’t know. But I think they owe more to their preorder customers than their backers, and the least we could ask for is a response to our e-mails, and for them to issue a refund to those unwilling to wait a year+ beyond their original shipping estimate.

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