Friday, July 15, 2016

Crowdfunding... NEVER again! Thanks to GOkey.

Two years ago, while reading the news on a tech website,  I saw a story about a new device which looked fantastic. At the time, with phones battling to be smaller and thinner, both battery life and storage was really starting to suffer. So this keyring sized device, offering a battery top-up as well as data storage options seemed the perfect solution.

The product was GOkey. Revolutionary, and as the interest grew, so did the ideas of what it could do. GPS locator, camera remote and so much more. The campaign on Indigogo can be found here.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gokey-battery-memory-remote-all-on-your-keyring#/

As I read more, and watched the demo video, I grew excited about the idea, and started telling my friends about these too. Friends who I now feel I owe an apology to, for talking them into putting money into the idea. We are all now in the same boat, and I would prefer if it were just me, so sorry about that.

Offering from 8GB to 32GB of storage (not a lot by 2016 standards I know!) , a couple of colour choices, and micro USB or Lightning Connector connections, a small battery for rapid charging of your mobile device. That was all it took to get the masses paying into the fund, in the hope of owning one of these revolutionary devices. $1,216, 280  or  2581% of the original goal. With all that funding, it was clearly off to an amazing start, and would be off the ground and produced in no time..... Right?

Well, no actually. Instead of saying, right "GOkey Mk1, as advertised" and getting it into production and distributed, based on the spec which people had bought into, the company decided it could better it. Rather than getting the original out of the way, then moving on to the Mk2, they delayed the whole thing, and started a consultation process, adding more and more new features to it, drawing more battery power, redesigning the battery, and basically going back to the drawing board.

Now, when people put money into a project, they read the return, accept it, and go for it. Sure, things take time, tooling, production, final testing etc. We are all patient, right? Sure, but how long is TOO long?

Due to the changes along the way, the production stalled, the communications faded out, and the hype died. I am writing this 2 years after making my pledge for 3 of the devices, and have to say that it is officially TOO long now. In the past few months I did receive an email suggesting they were just sorting final production and to confirm my preferences for my devices. Preferences which have changed over the two years, including a completely new connection option. Yup, tech has moved on and USB Type C is now fast becoming the industry standard. THAT is how long this whole process has been in the making.

What was once a great basis for an ongoing product which could evolve, and have customers returning for the newest version, GOkey have not even created an one hit wonder. More a one attempt flounder (at other peoples expense)

I think it is fair to say that there are a few different groups left waiting for their GOkey

The optimists . Waiting for this groundbreaking device to change their lives/
The pessimists. Totally over what they signed up for, and just waiting for their defunct devices to arrive so they can give them away for Xmas 2017 or stick them in a drawer for eternity .
And the realists.... Those SO over the whole thing, they have given up on every aspect of GOkey. Accepted the fact that the product will never be worth what they paid, that they have lost their money, and actually reached the point of barely remembering what GOkey was all about in the first place.

In Oct 2015, I emailed the CEO, Doros, stating my disappointment at the eternal delays, and expressing that I felt the idea was fast becoming obsolete. Unsurprisingly the response I received disagreed with my feelings, and asked why I felt it was obsolete.

Politely I put together what I felt was an appropriate response to the question, which went a little something like this..

Hi, 

Maybe obsolete is a too strong a word, or the wrong choice. But since May 2014 I am sure you know yourself that portable battery stores have become far more compact and popular, as well as affordable. Numerous devices out there with a remote shutter option on them, including the increasingly popular and affordable smart watches. 
I realise and fully appreciate that GOkey offers a unique combination of all of these, so for that reason, maybe obsolete is too strong a word.

The other thing, which of course you have addressed in the process is battery capacity. With phones becoming rapidly larger and their batteries also rising in capacity, what would have given my Blackberry in 2014 a good boost, will have far less effect on my current OnePlus 2.

Don't take this as me knocking the device, I still love the idea of it, and will be happy when it finally arrives, but it just feels it has really lost its edge to me now. Maybe that's the time frame, maybe its tech marching on. Either way, I know, as I am sure you do all too well, that I am far from the only one who feels receiving it will now just be more closure than fulfillment.

Hope you don't take this too negatively.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I thought the reply contained a fair argument supporting my points made, and hoped they would be considered, and I would get an intelligent reply. Sadly all I got back was what almost seemed like a pre-written, generic reply.

It may seem a bit old to the people that first seen it a year and a half almost ago, but the sleek design and its unique practicality will make it a commercial success. The retail launch of course next year will be the judge of it. For now what is important is delivering a high quality product to the backers. I am late. I have to at least deliver on what I promised

Best
Doros

Well, that was Oct last year. Fast forward to March 2016, and all backers received emails saying information on preferences was needed "before we can move forward". In other words, we still haven't actually started making them, don't want to over produce the wrong ones because no bugger will buy these retail when the campaign is over with. So once again, mid March, and still no sign of movement.

Now, its July 2016, two years later, and not another word from GOkey. It is fair to say that my days of crowdfunding projects are done with, and that this has to go down as one of the worst examples of how a great idea can be handled SO badly, that it just falls flat on its face. I have no doubt that backers will one day see a return for their investments. I fell most for the poor soul who threw $2300 in to get one of the great vale packages of 50 laser engraved GOkeys. The other who threw away $1150, and the 5 others who gave $490 each. There are many more quite large backers, all who must be pretty annoyed right now, or work for the company.

I have to summarise by saying this is one of the worst examples of customer relations I have ever seen. Deadlines missed over and over, lack of communication regarding these, and just hyped up "updates" about progress on the product, which then seems to fail, and so on. I am just curious now to see just how brilliant the product is that I have been waiting for so long. I doubt very much it will come close to making up for the disappointment in the way the whole matter has been addressed from the first delay.
Hopefully new upstarts will take this failed model and use it as an example of how NOT to launch your product onto a crowdfunding site.

Lesson learned, prepare to be burned!

**UPDATE**
It has even been over a year since they put an update on their Facebook page! That says it all really.
https://www.facebook.com/mygokey/

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