Social Media has truly open and removed all boundaries making this a smaller and connected world. For any person being creative and working with innovation at some level is now in the Eldorado of access and information, inspiration and now even crowd-funding via services like KickStarter
This is now the world of endless possibilities where anyone, anywhere at anytime can present their project and get random investors with people investing anything from $1 and up. I am an entrepreneur for the past 15 years and there has been more than one occasion where I would have needed the collective power of crowd-funding back then, and perhaps I would have been able to give life to some of the (in my humble point of view) brilliant projects I have come up with in the past. I love the concept and principle of KickStarter enabling innovators, entrepreneurs to connect with investors and people willing to spent their hard earned cash on projects and the people behind it that they believe in actually can come to life.
There most be a downside, right? Anything that seems too good to be true, must be so, right? Well – this is the beauty with social media, it reduces the chances of being fooled or scammed since everything is available, online. Now, I’m here to tell you that it is actually is possible to scam people via KickStarter – and it is actually happening now.
Norwegians has been behind many innovations in the world, one of the most famous one is the paperclip. Another innovation was done back in 2005, where a couple of friends running a promotional materials company – one day given a challenge by one of the clients: They wanted something they could give their employees that was branded and nice enough to bring with them at all times – something they would love. So the guys sat down and after some intense brainstorming came up with something brilliant – a small foldable wallet with really easy access to the most important thing – your credit card. They designed the idea, tested it with different materials and went to China to find the right match on factory that were willing to produce their idea. Long story short, the concept proved to be truly great and since the product came to life, they have sold thousands and thousands of Exentri® Wallet in the Nordics and Europe. But the business is build on pure daring force and passion, building their business over time up until now to prepare for international launch.
Never trust a stranger?
My mother taught me, as many others that I never should talk to strangers. Well – Norwegians are a bit naive in that department so we don’t always do as our mothers said. One day a energetic and seemingly credible person was sitting in the office of Exentri Wallet discussing the options of becoming the distributor of the product for the US, which was according to plan. For various reasons the deal didn’t come true.
Now the American guy that came by the Exentri Offices was quite the digital savvy, and with the business insights he had obtained in the meetings he came up with a better idea. Why not contact a factory in China, make them produce a demo, that then is presented on KickStarter as a new revolutionary product! Which he has done. (look here) He is convincing in the way he presents his new innovation – which is a ripoff of a product that has been on the marked since 2005!
You might say, hey – there is copies of everything out there already. Everything from designer glasses, bags and other products are being ripped off on a daily bases.
But – there is a difference. These copycats making copies of Versace, Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and others are not appealing to the crowd-funding community to help them getting their business up and running. It is beyond any ethics and morals within business. This person – now having a project at KickStarter called the TriHOLD wallet (he even copied parts of the product name) now having a funding of $66000,- in under a month.
To KickStarter this presents a problem – as they are the facilitators and providers of the connection between innovators and investors. But if they don’t strike down on products as the person behind TriHOLD, they will loose the trust of the investors being afraid of investing in something that is a pure scam.
Is that the kind of projects and persons they want to have on KickStarter? The question is, can they or will they do something to prevent this for the future? I do hope so.
At the end of the day
I hope that KickStarter closes the TriHOLD project and tells the investors that this is not what it seems, not only because it is the right thing to do – but also because it is the only way they can protect their own brand-value and trust.
I am sure that Exentri® Wallet will continue to grow and prosper from their innovation and creativity that came to life more than 7 years ago. They will grow their market share slowly and steadily in other global markets over time, step by step. And I hope that crowd-funding can continue to be a clean and positive community. It is a brilliant idea, giving so many people the chance to bring their innovation to life – lets keep it like that.
Your thoughts, please