Circumstantial Info about the SOLUS+ IGG Campaign

In depth articles on specific projects, detailed feedback from backers, interviews and "ask me anything" sessions with creators, and product reviews.
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StevenBackerClub
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:19 am

Tue May 14, 2019 5:09 pm

PREFACE

The Koleda team approached us last week for a spot in our Club for their live SOLUS+ Indiegogo campaign. During our normal review & approval process, we became aware of their nearly-successful Kickstarter campaign that was ultimately suspended by Kickstarter Staff. This led to some serious hesitation for our approval team. In fact, we were largely in consideration of rejecting their submission outright, but we offered the Koleda team a chance to explain what happened and convince us of their legitimacy.

The intent of this article is to provide unbiased facts and circumstances surrounding the SOLUS+ campaign and why we ultimately approved their submission into our Club. For BackerClub members (and guests), we recommend you read this article so that your pledging decision can be as informed as possible. It's up to you to decide how you want to spend your money - this article can simply make you more educated on the situation before you decide one way or another.

FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES
  • Solus was originally launched on Kickstarter in Feb 2019.
  • They raised $400,000+ before Kickstarter suspended their campaign hours before the end date/time.
  • Kickstarter did not provide a concrete reason behind their suspension. We (BackerClub) find this is a common action (or lack of) by Kickstarter for suspended campaigns.
  • The Creators believe it was due to poor choices in messaging on that campaign that led to impossible claims (like the radiator creating more heat energy than it was provided as an electrical input).
  • Steven of BackerClub (hey - that's me!) has had (2) 45-minute phone call with the Creators, and as a mechanical engineer + entrepreneur, did not hear anything "fishy", misleading, or breaking the laws of thermodynamics. On the calls, the Creators freely admitted to their poor messaging, answered all questions genuinely, and provided sensible replies.
  • Some backers on Kickstarter are claiming this is a similar (or near-identical) product to a Xefro product that was taken to court as fraud. BackerClub has not been able to conclude any factual information from these allegations. The Creators have stated there is a commonality in the type of product, but they have nothing to do with the Xefro business/owner.
  • The Creators took their suspension from Kickstarter seriously, and rather than launching immediately on Indiegogo, decided to spend 2 months refining their project, messaging, etc.
  • They are now live on Indiegogo and offering a special perk to our members.
We asked a select group of active BackerClub members to review the campaigns themselves. The following points represent their concerns and the subsequent reply from the Creators (another phone call between the BackerClub and Koleda team).
  • Member: None of the Team Members on IGG have been verified, nor do they have any crowdfunding history (1st project created, never backed any other...)
    • Creator: This is true. It's our first project on IGG and our 2nd project overall (the Solus Kickstarter campaign was our first). Now that we know about this, we are going to have our team members perform the IGG verification soon.
  • Member: Comparing the two campaigns (new IGG vs. suspended KS), they switched from an old-school remote to an integrated smart home system in less than two months, with appropriate sourcing agreements for the pieces (you know how long that takes?)
    • Creator: Indeed - that would be hard! That's why we have partnered with another vendor in Europe to handle the hardware (smart thermostat). We have an initial agreement in place to fulfill upwards of 2,000 units/month. The hardware vendor also provides an open API for their smart devices, but the Koleda team is underway on creating our own cloud/app for the SOLUS+ integration.
    • BackerClub Note: Partnering with 3rd party vendors to provide core technologies or hardware is common for mass-produced items. This makes sense for specialization and production efficiency (aka, cost and reliability).
  • Member: The production GIFs do not really show an industrialized system, which raises questions for things like quality consistency and warranty.
    • Creator: We admit that our manufacturing process is small and relatively non-automated, but it is so that we can keep the manufacturing close to the Koleda team where we can supervise the process, materials, graphene production, etc., while not losing our intellectual property to far-off manufacturing factories (China...). The graphene compound we use is proprietary and we mix/extract it on-site. A lot of the production for the SOLUS+ system is performed in Latvia. A 2-year warranty is included with all SOLUS+ pledges.
  • The technical details on KS raise questions, their absence on IGG could be a point of concern for those that scrutinize both campaigns (unlikely, but you never know).
    • Creator: This is mainly a balance between selling the product to our target audience (the general public that currently uses a conventional radiator system) vs. providing mountains of technical details that are only understood by a limited group of visitors looking at our campaign. For those that want to know some of the details, we have specifications for the SOLUS+ models at the bottom of the page and a downloadable PDF that explains the science and efficiency assessments of our systems.
    • BackerClub Note: Here is a direct link to a report on the Efficiency of SOLUS+.
  • The Xefro story lacks specifics, but looks similar in the technology used (Graphene) and potentially in the logistics (Can Koleda deliver? See point on production above).
    • Creator: Toma, Koleda team member, has a little background info on the entrepreneur behind Xefro. http://www.timharper.net/
      However, Toma can’t comment on the person himself, their product, etc. He just knows they were taken to high court for the lack of installing working systems in peoples' homes and offering no after-sale support services. Koleda is completely different in terms of business. The Xefro product, in general terms of being an IR heater and using graphene (in an unknown capacity), may be the same but the team/business etc. behind the IR heater is totally different (along with our commitment to customers).
  • Lack of links to the press features. I didn’t find the Forbes story, the gadgetflow one was downgraded to one-star because of KS and just takes campaign elements verbatim. Didn’t search the others, but I expect more of the same...
    • Creator: That's a good point! We can try to add those in. Many of the articles are Koleda or SOLUS related (vs. SOLUS+). GadgetFlow was paid-for-press. Everyone else was unsolicited.
  • Member: General note - The important thing to me is even the BackerClub special pricing appears to be reasonable for what the product is, and not some sort of come-on that will leave backers with nothing.
MY 2-CENT TAKEAWAY

There are always risks when backing a crowdfunding campaign, so no one should pledge with a false belief that their pledge is 100% guaranteed to result in something. When it comes to this campaign and the Koleda team in particular, we found the Creators to be open, honest, and responding sensibly to our concerns. They made some mistakes on their Kickstarter campaign (making statements and comment replies that were easily read the wrong way or downright false) but are hoping to do better this time around on Indiegogo. They have stated the act of crowdfunding is important to them so that they can learn all of this valuable feedback (for the product itself and the way it is marketed) so that they can build a successful business in the future. On a science level, they are attempting to create a well-understood product (IR based heaters) at a reasonable price that looks good in your home and provides some smart-home integrations.

BackerClub members should feel free to ask any questions, state concerns, or provide feedback as a reply to this thread. The Creators have mentioned that they will try to respond where necessary.
Steven F.
Team BackerClub
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