Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is Supporting GPS Crowdfunding Smart?

Geefunding_crowdfunding

What if I told you that there is an inventor looking for funding for this really awesome-sounding GPS tracker? Say the campaign was partially funded on Kickstarter (by far the most reputable crowdfunding platform) and the object itself sounded pretty sweet–a GPS tracker the size of a sticker that could easily help you locate your… well, whatever you’ve stuck it to. Sounds pretty great right?

Well, what if it turned out to be a scam?

Crowdfunding has become extremely popular in recent years for everything from media to technology and even odd projects, like eating a taco. Here at GPS Tracklog, I’ve written about numerous crowdfunded projects on both Kickstarter and the slightly less reputable Indiegogo. Some of the campaigns were successfully funded and delivered on time while others were not, but that’s sort of the luck of the draw.

However, I recently came across the extremely controversial Kickstarter campaign for a GPS tracker known as TrackerPad. This little sticker-like device just sounded way too good to be true and despite the fact that several fairly reputable and popular news sites, like Discovery News, Gizmag and Digital Trends, all covered the TrackerPad, I passed up writing about it for fear that it was a scam.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one concerned, as it not only suffered a heated debate in the comment sections questioning the tracker’s authenticity, but was eventually cancelled by Kickstarter for possible fraudulent activity. No harm done. Until the developer moved the entire campaign to Indiegogo, a platform which allows for flex funding. Flex funding basically means that all the money pledged—whether it reaches the goal or not—will go to the inventor. As soon as users hit the ‘contribute’ button, the money is as good as gone.

Now, I’m not going to try and claim definitively that the TrackerPad is a scam, but there are definitely a lot of warning signs. This article has some fantastic tips for how to vet campaigns and ways to spot crowdfunding scams and anyone who is going to use Kickstarter or Indiegogo should definitely check it out.

While there are plenty of campaigns that we have covered like the Iota (which should be shipping in September) and Trax (which is available now) both of which which have been great successes, there are others like the GPS microchip for pets that didn’t quite pan out. As with all things, don’t be afraid to be a little skeptical about something that just seems too good to be true.

But maybe it’s just me. What do you think? Do you ever back crowdfunded GPS projects? What about TrackerPad, the campaign mentioned… does it look like a scam to you? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

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