It is no secret that pledging your support to a crowdfunding campaign carries risk. Typically the danger is that the product takes much, much longer to come to market than originally projected or that it doesn’t materialize at all; this year we have seen some very high profile Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns fail to produce a product with supporters left empty handed. What is more unusual, though, is to see the direction of a product completely shift after a successful crowdfunding campaign. But that is just what happened with AmpStrip.
AmpStrip made its debut this past January at CES and received a ton of extremely positive press. The Band-Aid like wearable device contained a thermometer, accelerometer, and heart rate sensor. The idea was to provide a wearable device for fitness that provided a comprehensive view of your body while being simple and barely-there. AmpStrip appeared to be a near ready-to-launch product at the time and the company behind it, FitLinxx, turned to Indiegogo to fund the launch. They raised over $530,000 with an initial goal of $50,000. Things appeared to be moving forward perfectly until March, at which point FitLinxx went silent for 3 months, not responding to emails or providing an update about the product. While never a good sign, when they did emerge from the shadows, FitLinxx claimed everything was still on track and that beta testing was proving successful. FitLinxx then crawled back into the darkness until this week, when it emerged to announce that AmpStrip would no longer exist in its current form and will no longer have any fitness focus. The only explanation provided was that the company didn’t have enough resources to focus on AmpStrip being a medical device and a fitness device.
Every inch of the Indiegogo page is covered with information about using the device for fitness, the product’s website still shows the tagline “Train To The Edge,” and it was being made by a company called ‘FitLinxx.’ AmpStrip was always first and foremost a fitness device. Clearly it was gathering health information but that was never an intended market for the wearable. Given that the product was already in beta testing, it is curious that FitLinxx would make such a drastic and sudden shift in the product. There really only seem to be two explanations behind this; either there were insurmountable issues related to the device when working out that were not found until widespread testing or the company signed an offer that could not be refused to focus on AmpStrip being a medical device. No matter the reason though, the way FitLinxx behaved was a disservice to its customers and disrespectful. With that level of consumer funding, companies owe it to their supporters to be more transparent. The good news at least is that FitLinxx is doing the right thing and offering to refund people’s money. If your money got caught up in all of this silliness, you can find a refund form on the company’s website.