Prior to crowd-funding, budding inventors and entrepreneurs had to seek out people with enough largesse to provide necessary financing to make their ideas come to life. The advent of GoFundMe and other websites helped alleviate much of the heavy lifting.
Kanoa, a Silicon Valley startup, generated a buzz in the crowded crowd-funding field. They touted Bluetooth-enabled, wireless earphones that provided high-tech features, specifically music changing in pace and volume during a workout. Users could also control the ambient sound levels, depending on their surroundings.
Their pre-orders for $300 headphones (early backers received discounts of up to 50 percent) would help Kanoa get up and running. However, the first signs of trouble came when shipping dates were continually pushed back after the company promised a summer 2016 release.
After a year of waiting for their cutting-edge headphones, customers received notification that the Bay Area company was cutting their losses after running out of capital. The missive confirmed that Kanoa became yet another crowd-funded sensation to take the money and run.
The email contained a link to a webpage where the company cited being “emotionally overwhelmed” by the quick turn of events, which went beyond shipping delays. A scathing YouTube product review called the earphones “trash,” delivering the fatal blow four days before the company closed.
Koana claims to be in negotiation with other investors while they find a solution. However, their staff is gone and their customer support and social media presence is non-existent.
The continuing saga of crowd-funded companies making promises they cannot keep goes on. Silicon Valley’s Skully had 3,000 customers awaiting their $1,500, high-tech motorcycle helmets when they shuttered operations last summer. Lily Robotics, also based in San Francisco, filed bankruptcy in February. However, the company has promised to reimburse their 60,000 financiers who did not receive their camera drones.