There’s been a long and sorry history of $1 million+ Kickstarter campaigns crashing and burning, from a drone company that failed to deliver a product (over $3 million
) to a laser razor that got booted before it could even try (over $4 million
And now there is another chapter, as an e-ink watch company that once raised over $1 million from Kickstarter backers has declared bankruptcy — and none of those backers will likely see a cent.
In 2013, a Kickstarter campaign for the CST-01, from company Central Standard Timing, raised around $1 million from over 7,600 backers. The CST-01 was billed as the “world’s thinnest watch,” but never seemed to get off the ground.
The CST-01’s woes started with the pressures of that “thin” ideal, which caused the company to have to find a hunt for an elusive battery technology that could meet the specs it set forth in the campaign. The company eventually parted ways with its hardware partner, Flextronics, and said it would need $1.2 million more to actually mass produce the watch, according to Popular Mechanics.
That wasn’t going to happen, and the company has now declared the inevitable: it’s filed for bankruptcy.
Having a Kickstarter flame out isn’t exactly surprising, but the spectacular scale of this one is impressive. Slashgear found one document that said Central Standard Timing’s asset were just $30,000 ($10,000 inventory, $10,000 equipment, and $10,000 in patents). The liabilities were $891,563.
That means it’s extremely unlikely any of the backers will get their money back, according to Slashgear. Those backers are “unsecured creditors” and they are last in line.
And the kicker, according to Slashgear, is that the company’s statement includes this gem: “The Trustee/Assignee has not determined whether a Kickstarter or other crowd-funding contributor is entitled to participate in a distribution, if any.” Basically, good luck Kickstarter backers.
This is just another reminder that you should be careful what Kickstarters you back (it’s a donation with a promise attached), though as Popular Mechanics’ Eric Limer points out, the company has gotten better since 2013 about sniffing out potential fraudsters — they did kick out the laser razor after all, which went on to raise
$483,711 on Indiegogo).