Nearly two years ago, GOKey launched a perk-based crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The concept was fairly simple: a piece of hardware that you keep on your key-ring to replace all those different cables we constantly carry to charge and connect our smartphones. The targeted funding goal was $40,000 but the creator killed it raising more than $1.2 million from almost 14,000 backers. GOKey perks started at just $69 so the project was pretty accessible to most people.
On Saturday, after many months of delays and encouraging updates to keep backers hopeful, founder and creator Doros Kyriakoulis called it quits, explaining to backers he was out of money, shutting down and considering bankruptcy as his options are limited.
Doros’ update is below:
I sincerely regret to inform you that GoKey lacks the funds to complete the delivery of a viable product. We ran into technical difficulties that we could not resolve. There are no funds left to cover claims of suppliers and others or to offer refunds. I have been exploring all avenues to raise additional funds so that we could complete and deliver the product, but we have been unsuccessful.
I honestly fought with all I had to do good at the end. Tried so hard to raise a round or form a partnership to deliver. And there have been times where a deal was looking 100% certain. But the age of the product, the liability and the negative cloud hanging over it always prevailed.
I am left with no alternative but to completely cease and shut down all operations and activities and consider filling for bankruptcy.
I feel terribly shameful for letting you down.
I am sorry,
Another Failed Hardware Crowdfunding Campaign
Last November, Kyriakoulis posted an update that reflected the strain while expressing his determination to complete the project;
“It’s extremely difficult to maintain high energy levels and focusing on developing the GoKey while at the same time fielding the many comments and emails I get asking for refunds and accusing the project of being vaporware.
GoKey is real. Please ask yourself the question “Would Doros still be here today updating this project, answering comments and replying to emails?”. I hope you realise the answer is no. I’d have disappeared a long time ago.
So why am I still here?
Because I have a huge responsibility to all of you. We”ve made a lot of mistakes along the way but I’m committed to shipping every one of the 13,995 backers their GoKey.”
Kyriakoulis is, of course, not alone in his failure to deliver on a hardware project using a rewards platform. There have been many similar stories shared over the past years. A once high flying project has been brought to its knees by the fact that developing, manufacturing and shipping high-quality hardware is really, really hard. Backers are quickly learning that supporting a project that does not have a working prototype that is ready to ship is more of a donation than anything else. It is a truism that you should not support a hardware project that is not shipping in coming weeks (instead of months or years) unless you are willing to throw away your money.
While Kyriakoulis appears to be very contrite, and the path of an entrepreneur is extremely hard, most backers simply view this as a broken promise and they would like to see an accounting of how $1.2 million turned into nothing. They paid for a product and he failed to deliver.
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