On Friday, the company behind SOAP, a do everything wireless router, issued a meandering press release that is more than a bit cringeworthy.
Backing up a bit, Crowdfund Insider covered the first (of several) crowdfunding campaigns for SOAP back in March of 2014. There were so many red flags on this campaign it was pretty amazing that 830 backers kicked in $142,000 for this “home automation router” that was more vapor-ware then hardware from the very beginning. Hackaday called the campaign at that time as “shaping up to be one of the largest scams Kickstarter has ever seen“. Ouch.
Insult to injury, organizers decided that crowdfunding was a perfect way to generate money and they quickly jumped over to Indiegogo where they discovered even more success raising over $260,000. Incredibly organizers are attempting a 3rd crowdfunding campaign but this time jilted backers from the previous two campaigns are warning away unsuspecting supporters.
Recently Julie Jacobsen at CEPro blasted SOAP and the two creators, Alex and Brandon Jones, pounding the table on their questionable credibility and sketchy past. She revealed that Alex Jones filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 following the Kickstarter campaign but BEFORE they launched the campaign on Indiegogo.
“This is when all hell broke loose, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t even know I was addicted,” Jones said. “The spiral began when I realized I liked this drug and it did something for me it doesn’t do for everyone. I now know this is a disease. At that time I had no idea of the danger of what I was doing so I kept going back for more.”
“At that point the drugs were my emotional support system and crutch,” Jones said. “I realize now that I was mad at God and the world. For the next five years, my life continued to get worse. I was in a dark place and made many of the mistakes that most addicts do while stuck in the disease of addiction including arrests and legal problems.”
He apparently entered a HEALS Program in 2013, which was specifically developed to rehabilitate addicts through intensive behavioral counseling.
“The desire to get better and to be where I am today was always inside but I couldn’t get to it because I didn’t know how,” Jones continues. “I have learned the importance of hope. If you lose hope you give up on your life and you become ready to die. I was at this point. Then out of some miracle, I found myself placed in a court program designed to help people turn it around.”
“It’s a program that just gets your life back together. And I needed it. I totally needed it,” Jones said. “I volunteered. I went to counseling. I got the tools I needed to really stay sober.”
“On the heels of a successful initial crowd funding campaign for Soap, Inc. on Kickstarter featuring a hardware component of the technology, Jones filed bankruptcy to begin the process of moving on from rehab costs and medical bills, a step that allowed him to focus more attention and resources on developing Soap.”
Jones explained he is motivated by giving back; “I give rides to people that need to get to appointments in our court program. I volunteer wherever I can”.
The saga closes by stating SOAP plans a launch on the App store and Google Play in March. He explains the changing specs on the originally crowdfunded project as “recognizing a shift in the marketplace”.
“Soap has evolved from concentrating on hardware to developing software that is universal across many routers and home automation platforms, enabling the company to potentially serve a larger market.”
I am not really all certain what this all means. I am all for giving people a second chance and rooting for a “comeback”, but when you have raised over $400,000 from folks that were counting on you to deliver a promised product you establish an amount of trust that has frankly been destroyed by SOAP. Any mention of refunds for backers that have been left empty handed? Nope. And please Indiegogo – change your algorithm to flag campaigns that have already used a competitor. As for the backers of the first two crowdfunding campaigns (as the 3rd is dead in the water), I wouldn’t expect too much come this spring. Where there is smoke. There is fire.
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