Failed Kickstarter projects

Over the years I’ve backed sixty seven kickstarter projects. Seventeen were comics, graphic novels, audio books or magazines. Thirty-nine were hardware/physical product based projects. Five were software development efforts (open source libraries or software products, games….). And there were a few miscellaneous “support this group to do this thing” type of projects, or things where I only pledged $1 or $10 just to lend moral support.

My first failed KickStarter  (after 12 successful ones) was CST-01: The World’s Thinnest Watch
thin band e-ink wristwatch

The founders were very ambitions, and made great progress, but just didn’t have enough funding for this particular hardware project. I really wish that some company would pick up and run with this idea, because I still want one.
My second failed kickstarter (after another 5 successful ones) was The Peachy Printer – The First $100 3D Printer & Scanner!
DIY resin printer
I really liked the “build your own laser galvanometer and use a regulated drip to slowly raise the resin levels” idea for it’s simplify and DIY nature (and was not expecting terribly great build quality from the device). You might have already read about how that one turned out

The prize for longest delivery time (but not an actual failure) goes to: CAIN: FIRST BORN by Alexandre Coscas & Joe Kelbley
Graphical Novel Cover
They had an artist quit on them halfway through, but I get the impression they just got busy with other projects and came back to this one, which was KickStarted in 2013 and delivered seven years later in 2020.

I had eight more successful kickstarter projects (if you include CAIN First Born in that count) before the next outright failure: Magic Phone Stand
Rigid usb cable that makes a phone look like it's floating
Of all the hardware failures, this is the one that surprised me the most as it’s just a ridged USB cable that makes it look like your phone is floating…but perhaps the asking price was just too low to develop a new cable at this small scale.

After five more successful projects we come to my first software project failure:
Descent: Underground
Spaceships flying in tunnels
I have fond memories of playing Descent 3 using a secondhand Virtual-IO i-glasses VR headset on my Linux computer (it was one of the first commercial games, along with Quake to support Linux), so I was happy to support an Indy reboot of the Descent 6DOF franchise. Unfortunately, legal issues complicated things
leading to a KickStarter failure.

After another eight successful kickstarters, we come to the Peachy Printer Part 2, a.k.a. ONO by OLO 3D: ONO – The $99 Smartphone 3D Printer.resin based 3d printer using your phones screen
There have been successful resin 3d printers launched on Kickstarter….but I appear to always pick the wrong ones. (Possibly because I’m only willing to risk $100 or less on resin 3D printer projects.) This project just admitted failure today, which is why I decided to write this blog post, but everybody knew it was a failure (or outright scam?) about 1-2 years ago…

The next Failures?

Eight more successful Kickstarter Projects separate the ONO from my next (potential) failure: Yomee – The World’s First Automatic Yogurt Maker
Yogurt making appliance
Although they have not declared outright failure, it has been 3 years since the Kickstarter, and in my experience, if you haven’t delivered your product after 3 years you are probably not going to get around to it.   [Also, the $130 thousand dollars they collected is enough to show interest in the product, but not actually produce it, so they are relying upon investors or acquisitions to bring this thing to market.]   The last update was from October 2020 when “production is in progress now”, but I’m not holding my breath.

I’m not going to include Boost Surfing Fin: Electric Motorized Fin for any Surfboard     in this post, as they claim to be just about to ship their product, and it’s only been a year and a half since the campain started, plus COVID, and they are giving lots of details on their production process…. On the other hand, I feel more confident about the Origami Paddler project than Boost Surfing. Here is hoping they both deliver and I can combine them.

[July 6th 2022 update: I have received both my Origami Paddler and Boost fin from the Kickstarters. However, many people have not yet received their Boost Fin (the company appears to be struggling with production) and Origami Paddler has just entered receivership.  So while I have received my rewards and can’t categorize them as a failed kickstarter projects, others who have not yet received their rewards may feel differently. ]

[June 1st 2023 update: Yomee has officially announced that they were not acquired by a kitchen appliance company, and the campaign has failed. They did have a small number of pre-production units that they offered to ship to people located in Hong Kong and Singapore, but that doesn’t help US backers.]

Take Away Message

I’ve supported many successful KickStarter projects, and while the hardware projects have a greater failure rate than other categories, I’ve been happy to receive many successful hardware projects.     If you want to maximize your potential of receiving a hardware project, look for those that are an established company (or individual) with a track record of successful products looking to bring a new product to market.   Examples include:

However, you should never back a Kickstarter to use as a Birthday or Christmas gift, as it will never meet your schedule.   I’ve had great luck supporting individual artists to produce books, magazines, graphic novels, etc.   The KickStarters I’m most proud of backing are Art and Engineering projects without a specific reward/deliverable other than knowing you are bringing something new and weird into the world. How can you not feel satisfied knowing that you helped create the Carpool DeVille – The World’s Fastest Hot Tub?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *