Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dot micro-earphones try to trick new investors on Indiegogo

Crowdfunding sites have allowed lots of projects to become real, but unfortunately they've become a fertile ground for scammers and fraudulent campaigns. Now it seems another trying to pull a fast one, and has already jumped to Indiegogo after being flagged on Kickstarter: the micro bluetooth earphones Dot.

The Dot were a huge success on Kickstarter reaching nearly $300k, and all seemed to go well... until someone noticed the Dot earphones were suspiciously similar to an existing product developed by a Chinese manufacturer. The project was canceled, as Kickstarter doesn't allow you to simply resell (at a considerable markup) an existing product, but Dot simply moved to Indiegogo - a crowdfunding site that seems to welcome this sort of shady projects.

The project creators are now in full damage control mode, saying it was all a misunderstanding and that they didn't intend to fool anyone, and that while the Dot is based on that manufacturer's product, it will be tweaked and customized, as well as having a stricter quality control. All nice things to say... if they had been said right from the start. Now, even they're being sincere, the truth is I've been tricked once already by the same kind of stunt. In fact, it seems that crowdfunding campaigns that simply try to resell existing "chinese gadgets" is becoming increasingly popular, and it's easy to understand why: just find a nice looking gadget, see how much it will cost to get the minimum quantities with custom branding, multiply the unit price by 3... and done. Instant money-making machine with little to no risk (even if you fail to provide the devices, you can simply say "tough luck, the project failed".)

So, though I'm a big fan of crowdfunding projects and continue to invest in many of them, one needs to be extra careful and do some digging before actually reaching for the wallet.

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