Project Disaster : Hanfree iPad Accessory

This one’s a cautionary tale about the risks of Kickstarter. As awesome as it is to be able to “kickstart” new projects and businesses, it’s a sad fact that some projects won’t succeed no matter how hard you kick them. (How’s that for an over-extended metaphor?)

The idea here is pretty straightforward. The Hanfree is a really tall and really flexible iPad stand.

So you can use your iPad as a music stand.

Or you could use your iPad if you’re laying on the couch.

Or, you could use your iPad if, for some reason, you were in your bed, on your hands and knees.

The Kickstarter campaign was a success! They raised $35,004, and were rated one of the Top Ten Kickstarter Projects of 2011 by TomsGuide.com and a couple of other blogs.

So what went wrong?

Poor math, poor management, and poor money handling.

Basically, the creator, who has the superhero name “Seth Quest”, completely misjudged how much money would be needed to manufacture the item by a factor of about 10x. So when the money ran out he sold his car, and when that money ran out he asked his employees to work for free. Believe it or not, his employees didn’t refuse outright, but they asked for partial ownership of his company in exchange for their free work. He refused, and that was that. Project over. Company bankrupt.

About six months after the campaign ended, posted an update :

As you can imagine, many of his backers pitched a fit. Imagining Kickstarter to be some sort of store or skymall-like catalog, they were astonished and infuriated that the start-up business that they had invested in had failed. (To be fair, Seth Quest did encourage this way of thinking by repeatedly describing the pledges as “pre-orders“.) Check out this classy blog by an angry backer.

Unfortunately, Seth Quest responded to these angry comments in a very sleazy, unprofessional, and possibly even illegal way : By trying to hide! That’s right, he deleted all his email accounts, and even tried to remove his awesome-sounding name from the Kickstarter page!

To make a long story short, (Too late!) several of the Kickstarter backers are now suing Mr Seth Quest, but don’t expect to get much money out of him, since he doesn’t actually have any money.


This story is an import lesson for everyone involved in Kickstarter. Some people just aren’t prepared for the reality of manufacturing a product. If you’re thinking about backing a project, don’t be fooled by a slick prototype, do your research and decide if you trust these people to actually be able to do what they’re claiming! (Or just treat it like a gamble.)

If you’re thinking about starting a project, please do a lot of research, and figure out exactly how much money you’re going to need. Talk to people who have done similar projects and find out about all those expenses you haven’t thought of. It’s good to be confident, but be realistic too. The last thing you want is to spend the next few years hiding from hundreds or even thousands of angry people.

Project Disaster : i+Case

This project was for a stylish new bumper case for the iPhone 4. The i+Case consists of a solid aluminum band that covers the edges of your iPhone 4, both making it look cool, and protecting it from those devastating side-impact drops.

So what’s the problem? Why has this cool and popular product wound up on this site? Well, unfortunately the team behind i+Case, forgot about one of the iPhone4’s unusual design features.

The more famous of Apple’s founding Steves explains the iPhone 4’s unique antenna.

If you’ve ever been to a science museum you’ve probably seen the demonstration where they lock a pretty girl in a cage and fire lightning bolts at her. I don’t know what this proves, but wrapping an antenna in a piece of aluminum has basically the same effect.

That’s right, this stylish aluminum case blocks radio signals!

Only a few days after shipping, in mid December, users started reporting problems :

Shortly after, the creators of the i+Case posted an update explaining all the hard work they had done to try to make the case function properly. Ultimately, though, they were forced to admit that none of their hard work had actually fixed the problem.

By January, the European customers started to complain that they hadn’t received theirs yet, while American customers were asking how to return theirs!

The i+Case team made an announcement :

And that’s that. As far as I can tell they’re not offering any option for refunds for their dissatisfied customers, and let me tell you, they have a lot of dissatisfied customers.

A small sample of the comments about the i+Case

On the bright side, this Kickstarter project did successfully kick-start a business! So if you want one of these marvelous cases. (For example, as a paperweight, or an oversized key-fob.) You can buy one from their online store!

Check out the lovely disclamer they want you to agree to before you even view their website!