Late last year, a Kickstarter project had raised a lot of interest among technology enthusiasts, especially, drone aficionados, and raised as much as £2.33 million, thereby becoming Europe’s largest crowd-funded project at the time. The promise was a small handheld quadcopter that would be able to take photos and videos while in full flight. The device, costing a minimum of £139, was to be named the ‘Zano’, and was meant to be the world’s most sophisticated nano drone with the ability to capture aerial photos and shoot HD videos. The company behind the project was the Wales, UK-based Torquing Group, who was promoting the gadget as an “Autonomous, Intelligent, Developable” gadget. Seeing as the device would be significantly more portable and less expensive than other, similar products in the market from Chinese brand DJI or French brand Parrot, over 12,000 thousand people had plonked down cold hard cash in the hope of stealing a deal.
However, something, somewhere, went terribly wrong with the project, and the company itself ended up declaring bankruptcy, thereby leaving thousands of creditors and investors in the lurch. While about 600 units actually managed to leave the factory floor and were shipped out to backers of the project on the crowdfunding website, they failed to impress the buyers and the media alike, with the BBC declaring the contraptions to be “not impressive, staying airborne for only a few minutes, colliding with walls, and delivering very poor video”, in its review. Amidst ongoing issues with quality control, the company’s CEO and lead engineer resigned last month, citing ‘personal reasons and irreconcilable differences’.
Now, Kickstarter is launching an enquiry into the whole mess, to see if it can actually find out what went wrong with the company. Towards that end, the crowdsourcing platform has hired the services of Seattle, WA-based freelance journalist, Mr. Mark Harris, to investigate and hopefully, get to the bottom of what happened with the project in particular, and the company in general. Kickstarter however, is not likely to launch a formal investigation, as it does not have a financial stake in either the Torquing Group, or its now-defunct Zano quadcopter project. According to Mr. Harris’ blog on Medium, the report, which he expects to be published by mid-January, will focus on investigating “the progress of the project, from start to finish; to discover what happened to the over £2m in funds pledged; and to answer the questions of whether Zano’s creators could have done anything differently, or made mistakes that future Kickstarter projects might avoid”.
He further states that although Kickstarter is paying him for taking up the project, the crowdsourcing platform will, in no way, shape or form be influencing his report, nor will it have the right to edit his observations. He also rules out any conflict of interest saying that he does not have any interest – financial or otherwise – in the Zano project or in the Torquing Group, and claims that he did not back the project, and as such, does not have an axe to grind against any individual or organization involved with the project. Mr. Harris is also inviting Zano backers, creators and employees to get in touch with him in case they’d like to have their side of the story reflected in his report. Interested parties can reach him at the source link below.