A crowdfunding campaign for a futuristic razor that was banned from Kickstarter after raising more than $4 million has appeared on Indiegogo. The team behind the Skarp Laser Razor claims their product is the "future of shaving," using lasers instead of blades to trim hair and so doing away with razor burn, cuts, and expensive cartridge replacements. Kickstarter, however, is skeptical of these unproven claims and has suspended the campaign indefinitely.
in violation of Kickstarter rules
In an email to Skarp's backers obtained by The Register, Kickstarter said the company was "in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards," adding that "suspensions cannot be undone."
Skarp had provided a video showing a prototype model in action, but the razor featured looks extremely ineffective, managing to cut only a few hairs during a 90 second demonstration. Speaking to The Verge, Skarp's CIO Oliver Pearce-Owen said that the company has been "incredibly clear" that the model in this video is just a prototype. "To produce the shaving results we discuss in our presentation, we require a high performance precision manufactured fiber," said Pearce-Owen. "We have taken our prototype as far as we can before mass production and that is why we are on Indiegogo."
Despite the unconvincing video, the razor was speedily funded on Kickstarter, steaming past its $160,000 goal to raise $4 million before being suspended. Since moving to Indiegogo, the identical campaign has attracted more than $48,000 in pledges under the site's "flexible funding" rule. This means that even if the funding target ($160,000 again) is not reached, Skarp will still get to keep the money.
Pearce-Owen said that Indiegogo had been "incredibly helpful," adding "it's clear they are interested in bringing exciting, cutting edge campaigns to their platform." He also said that the campaign's removal from Kickstarter had been due to "pressure from special interests lobbying," but did not elaborate on who was lobbying the company or why. "This decision left tens of thousands of people disappointed," he said.
"you gotta do better."
Commenters on Indiegogo seem aware but ambivalent about the potential for Skarp not to follow through on its promises. "You gotta do better than that piss green video with a 2 minute shave for a wrist," writes user Mike King. "I'm trusting you, but you lost the Kickstarter for a VERY good reason. Get one working prototype that delivers, JUST one. That delivers the quick and easy shave you promised."
Crowdfunding is often a risky business for both backers and companies alike. Inventors might think they've solved a tricky problem only to be brought low by the challenges of mass production, while people who pledge their money to unproven projects can simply end up cheated out of their money. Whether or not Skarp can actually build a product that achieves anything like their ambitious claims is currently in doubt, but the company has at least found individuals willing to believe its pitch.
Update, October 13th, 13:02PM ET: Updated to include comment from Skarp's Oliver Pearce-Owen.
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