Skarp’s laser razor has been banned from Kickstarter on a technicality after the campaign raised more than $4 million against a $160,000 target.
The Skarp Razor is a lazer-based device that is billed as “the future of shaving for men and women.” It hit the ground running on Kickstarter last week, quickly reaching and surpassing the original goal of the campaign.
According to a letter sent to backers of the laser razor Kickstarter and obtained by The Register, the campaign was pulled due to the lack of a working prototype.
“We’ve concluded that it [Skarp’s laser razor] is in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards.”
There is, in fact, a working prototype of the laser razor, although it doesn’t appear to work as well as a production model would have to. During the course of a 90-second demonstration, the device clearly cuts through a number of hairs, but you can judge for yourself whether you think it should qualify as a “working prototype” or not.
Kickstarter doesn’t seem to think that is a working prototype, which raises the question of what, exactly, meets the crowdfunding giant’s working prototype litmus test. The device clearly doesn’t function like a finished product would have to, but it just as clearly works to some degree.
After getting the boot from Kickstarter, Skarp immediately jumped to another crowdfunding site. They ultimately landed on Indiegogo, which works a little differently from Kickstarter.
Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo offers “flexible funding” campaigns that allow partially-funded campaigns to still collect their money, unlike Kickstarter, which only collects and disburses funds if a campaign hits its goal.
Speaking to The Verge, Skarp CIO Oliver Pearce-Owen expressed his confusion at why Kickstarter would ban the laser razor.
According to Owen, they made it clear that the demonstration video represented a prototype, and that they would require additional funding to take it to production.
“To produce the shaving results we discuss in our presentation, we require a high performance precision manufactured fiber,” Pearce-Owen told The Verge. “We have taken our prototype as far as we can before mass production and that is why we are on Indiegogo.”
Crowdfunding in general, and Kickstarter in particular, has been plagued by vaporware and campaigns that over-promise and under-deliver over the years. One example is Arkami’s myIDkey, the demise of which Ars Technica profiled last year.
In other instances, like Altius Management’s promise to deliver “asylum bicycle playing cards” to backers, the rewards simply never came. According to Ars Technica, that particular situation resulted in a lawsuit.
Kickstarter recently reincorporated as a public benefit corporation, which may have something to do with clamping down harder on anything that even appears to be vaporware.
Pearce-Owen told The Verge that the laser razor was pulled off Kickstarter because of “pressure from special interests lobbying.”
That may have something to do with Kickstarter’s new status as a public benefit corporation, or he could have meant something else. According to The Verge, he neglected to elaborate on the statement.
Whatever was actually behind Kickstarter pulling the project, you can once again put up your money to pre-order a laser razor now that it’s up on Indiegogo. The limited early bird option is already sold out, but three other single razor options are still available at this time.
Do you believe that Skarp’s laser razor is the real deal, or was Kickstarter right to pull the plug?
[Screengrabs via YouTube]