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The anatomy of a Kickstarter scam, starring Peachy Printer

If as much effort went into actually building this product compared to scamming investors and covering their asses, the Peachy Printer founders might have actually come up with something worthwhile.

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Bad apples spoil the bunch

I always wondered what BS smells like and now I know. The Kickstarter Peachy Printer scam is so unbelievably crooked that I can’t help but wonder if these guys had just put the same amount of effort into actually following through on their promises that they did on siphoning money from investors, something worthwhile may have actually been produced.

This is going to be a wild read, hang on to your butts.

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The short version

Two young entrepreneurs come up with an idea to create a desktop 3D printer that would cost consumers only $100. Dreamy, right?

Impressed Kickstarter investors ponied up $600,000 (Canadian). For reasons that completely escape me, the inventor and his partner do this without having set up a business banking account, so all the money goes into a private checking account where one of the partners’ proceeds to spend most of the funds on a new house!

Said 3D printer never gets made, no one gets arrested, and the whole scam is covered up for more than two years before it goes public.

Note from the Editor: This all feels like an elaborate hoax, but is being reported by even the most credible sources (like BBC), but we’re still holding our breath – filmed confessions that sound like a high school play? We’ll see.

A template for success

Kickstarter has set up a process where entrepreneurs have the potential to find investors so funds can be raised and dreams can be realized. The track record for this is pretty good because Kickstarter seems to be stronger than ever and is extremely vigilant about protecting their community.

Further, Kickstarter tells you (in fine print) that respective products may never see the light of day. Which is why money pledged is considered a donation.

But I digress. The Peachy Printer debacle is a prime example of why the government is getting involved and trying to regulate crowdfunding sites in order to make those receiving funds legally responsible.

The fine print

Always read the fine print. This is from the Kickstarter Website:

“Kickstarter does not guarantee projects or investigate a creator’s ability to complete their project. On Kickstarter, backers ultimately decide the validity and worthiness of a project by whether they decide to fund it.”

What is a creator obligated to do once their project is funded? (Notice it says fundamental and not LEGAL obligation). I’m glad you asked.

“When a project is successfully funded, the creator is responsible for completing the project and fulfilling each reward. Their fundamental obligation to backers is to finish all the work that was promised. Once a creator has done so, they’ve fulfilled their obligation to their backers. At the same time, backers must understand that Kickstarter is not a store. When you back a project, you’re helping to create something new, not ordering something that already exists. There’s a chance something could happen that prevents the creator from being able to finish the project as promised.

If a creator is absolutely unable to complete the project and fulfill rewards, they must make every reasonable effort to find another way of bringing the project to a satisfying conclusion for their backers.”

That is what is SUPPOSED to happen. It doesn’t mean that is what WILL happen.

Integrity is SO overrated

You can see Kickstarter has tried to insert some inherent sense of doing the right thing. All they do is provide a template. They get their percentage and sleep well at night because investors more or less know up front what they are getting into.

As bad as the Peachy Printer project is/was, it’s nothing compared to the recent Zano mini-drone initiative that scorched investors for several million dollars.

In both cases, the project developers apologized and tried to smooth things over by presenting professionally made graphics that explain how the money was spent. I noticed in both cases that no one made the effort to include a pie chart showing expenditures for a new house or a private island in the tropics, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.

Like money in the bank

In the bigger scheme of things how this ultimately ends is anyone’s guess. Regarding Peachy Printer, so far no printers have been made, most likely for the simple reason that one of the partners in the project took the money and built a house with it. Investors are likely pissed off because they got burned.

Will this give investors more pause before investing in crowdfunding sites? Maybe, maybe not.

Lino Rivera tells us, “My overall opinion on crowdfunding is a positive one, but there are no doubt pitfalls at every corner. I’ve had customers come from that space who were wildly successful out of the gate only to lose steam and ‘realign themselves’ a year after. I’ve backed a few projects myself, now that I think about it though, I haven’t received anything yet from those campaigns.”

“The last one I backed was actually from an established company who said crowdfunding sped up the time to market,” Rivera notes. “Really though, I believe it had more to do with market validation, which I think is one of crowdfundings greatest strengths. Before investing in huge amounts of capital, you get to see if it is even something the market wants.”

Will one bad apple spoil the bunch? Probably not, because as Rivera notes, there are other reasons for crowdfunding than the actual dollars. And Peachy Printer is hardly the first to victimize the crowdfunding space, so stay tuned.


All links he mentions are on this site.

#KickstarterScam

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

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How remote work has changed over the last decade

(BUSINESS NEWS) let’s reflect on how remote working and telecommuting has changed in recent years and look to how it will continue to change in the 2020s.

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As someone who often works remote, it’s interesting to see how much that means for work has evolved. The increase in commonality has been steady, and shows no signs of slowing down. Go Remotely has developed an insightful graphic showing the changes in trends regarding remote work over the years.

“For decades, the established economy dictated that you should pick one job, visit the same office for the next 40 years, and then retire,” reads the graphic’s intro. “However, recent remote working stats suggest the working world might be in for some revolutionary changes.”

From there, the graphic is broken down into five facets: Flexible Workspace Policy, Entrepreneurial Minds, Telecommuting is a Growing Trend, The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World, and The Future of Telecommuting.

With Flexible Workspace Policy, its suggested that telecommuting could be a solution for costly issues including lack of productivity caused by employee distractions, health problems, etc. It is said that employers lose $1.8 trillion annually due to these issues.

The end of 2018 found 35 percent of the US workforce working remotely. This is only expected to climb. Ten percent of employees don’t know if their company offers flexible work policies (this is something to check into!)

Bills and laws for virtual jobs passed by governments reflect the need for accessibility, economic stability, and emigration concerns. Companies with flexible work policies have reported seeing increases in productivity and profits. (Funny those both start with pro, no?)

With Entrepreneurial Minds, a few interesting things found include: remote workers are less likely to take off if they are sick, the majority reports better productivity when working alone, the majority reported lower stress levels. However, there is a problem with not being able to unplug after work which is an issue for some.

Telecommuting is a Growing Trend finds that there has been a seven percent increase between 2012 and 2016, with the majority (80-100 percent) reporting they work remotely. Industries seen embracing remote work include: transportation, computer/information systems/mathematical, arts/design/entertainment/sports/media, finance/insurance/real estate, law or public policy, community/social services, science/engineering/architecture, manufacturing or construction, healthcare, education/training/library, and retail.

The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World finds that the pros to hiring remote workers includes: finding talent outside of your geographic area, improves retention on work/life balance, increases productivity by decreasing commute time, and saves money by requiring less office space. The cons include lack of timeliness when it comes to receiving information from employers.

Finally, the Future of Telecommuting suggests that in 2020 the US mobile worker population will surpass 105 million (and will account for 72 percent of the US workforce). Hiring managers predict that telecommuting will increase tremendously, most skills will become even more niche over the next decade, and many think that 38 percent of their full-time workers will be working remotely in the next decade.

How do you feel about the increase in remote working and telecommuting?

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ClickUp team productivity app is gorgeous and wildly efficient

(BUSINESS NEWS) Seeking to improve your productivity and speed up your team, ClickUp is an inexpensive option for those obsessed with efficiency.

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Back again to obsess over productivity apps – ClickUp, is a project management tool seeking to knock the frustration out of PM. It’s getting some good reviews, so I gave it a try for a week by setting up my current job search as a project and getting a feel for the app. And as you’ve read in my other reviews, we will address features and design.

On the feature front, ClickUp offers a pretty standard set up of tools for a productivity app. What stands out first and foremost are the status options. In general, most productivity statuses are simple: not started, started, in progress, done, etc.

But ClickUp lets you set up custom statuses that match your workflow.

For example, if you’re doing instructional design projects, you may assign projects based on where they are flowing in an ADDIE model, or if you are a Realtor, you may have things cataloged by sold, in negotiation, etc.

Customization is king and custom status is the closest you get to building your own app. And if you like it simple, you don’t have to customize it. The assigned comments feature lets you follow up on specific comments that originate action items – which is useful in team collaborations.

You can also assign changes to multiple tasks at once, including changing statuses (I would bulk assign completion tasks when I finished applications that I did in batches). There a lot of features here, but the best feature is how the app allows you to toggle on and off features that you will or won’t use – once again, customization is front and center for this platform.

In terms of design and intuive use, ClickUp nailed it.

It’s super easy to use, and the concept of space is pretty standard in design thinking. If your organization uses Agile methodology, this app is ready for you.

In terms of view, you can declutter the features, but the three viewing modes (list, box, and board) can help you filter the information and make decisions quickly depending on what role you have on a board or project. There is also a “Me” board that removes all the clutter and focuses on your tasks – a great way to do focused productivity bursts. ClickUp describes itself as beautifully intuitive, and I can’t disagree – both the web app and mobile app are insanely easy to use.

No complaints here.

And the horizon looks good for ClickUp – with new features like image markup, Gannt charts (!!!!!! #nerdalert), and threaded comments for starts.

This application is great, and it’s got a lot of growth coming up to an already rich feature base. It’s free with 100MB of storage, but the $5 fee for team member per month that includes team onboarding and set up (say you’re switching from another platform) and Dropbox/Google Docs integration? That’s a bargain, Charlie.

ClickUp is on the way up and it’s got it all – features, a beautifully accessible UI, relentless customization, and lot of new and upcoming features. If you’re into the productivity platform and you’re looking for a new solution for your team, go check it out.

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Business News

Should you alter your business travel due to the Coronavirus?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Got a business trip coming up? Worried about the coronavirus spoiling those plans? Stay up to date and safe with this cool site!

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travel coronavirus

The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University has created a website that tracks one of the biggest trends of 2020: the coronavirus. Also known as 2019-nCoV, this disease has already spread to over 40,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with over 900 deaths (as of when this article was published, anyway.)

Not to mention, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that we still don’t know exactly how the virus spreads from person-to-person. In fact, there’s quite a bit we don’t know about this disease and although some people are reported as recovered, it’s only a small fraction compared to how many are sick.

So, what’s so great about this tracker? Well, first of all, it updates in real time, making it easy to keep track of everything we know about confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It’s chock full of statistics and visuals, making the information easy to digest. Plus, with a map front and center, it lets you know exactly where there have been reported outbreaks – and how many people have been diagnosed.

Because the site sticks to cold hard facts like statistics and maps, it also means you can avoid the racism and general panic that’s accompanied news of this outbreak.

This is a great tool for staying informed, but it’s also extremely helpful if you’re going to be traveling for work. As the virus continues to progress, you’ll be able to see just how many cases of coronavirus there are in the areas you’re planning to visit, which will allow you to plan accordingly. Even if you don’t feel the effects, you can still risk passing it to other people.

(In fact, the CDC recommends those traveling from certain areas in China practice “social distancing” when they return to the US, avoiding public spaces like grocery stores, malls and movie theaters.)

Of course, if you have something planned several months from now, don’t cancel your conference plans just yet. A lot can happen in that amount of time, so avoid the urge to check the website every couple hours. It’s supposed to be a tool for staying informed, not staying stressed out.

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