I was skeptical when I wrote about the Park & Diamond foldable helmet three years ago. Based on prototype photos, I didn’t see how this helmet could pass any bicycle helmet certification. Well, it still hasn’t shipped and customers who invested in the company (that had never made a product, let alone a bicycle helmet) are feeling used, abused and scammed by both Park & Diamond and Indiegogo. Between a flood of investor comments demanding refunds, there are comments like these:
“I’m now finding out how to scam people. I’m going to come up with a catchy little item with neat pictures and tech data. Then once I get my cash from all the Indiegogo contributors, it will be “bye-bye, see ya’ suckas’”. These guys did it with $3 million!”
“They must have cracked their heads open product testing. Fell into a coma for the last 3 years, and possibly got taken off life support 4 months ago with their last comment. This is why I have trust issues. Never backing anything on Indiegogo again. Please refund!”
“What does, ‘Suspended’ mean? Can someone from Indiegogo inform the investors of what’s going on? This is THEIR platform after all. We may never see our money again; that’s a chance we all took. But, we do deserve to know what’s going on.”
“There is a point at which they should just be honest and say… ‘hey guys, we spent all your money and we aren’t delivering.’ I mean, of course I want a refund, but second to that, I would just like to be relieved of having even the faintest thought that there could be a real product. You sold vaporware per the Indiegogo model, now stop with the sporadic repetitive hollow updates and just lets move on with our lives.”
THE LESSON LEARNED
Indiegogo and similar crowd-sourcing businesses offer high-risk investments, not products. One wise investor told me, “I never invest in a company that has less to lose than I’m investing.” In this case, both Park & Diamond and Indiegogo had less invested than the 3-million bucks backers coughed up. Call me old fashioned, but when I want a new helmet (or gloves or shorts or shoes), I’ll go to a bike shop, find one that fits and buy it. I’m not going to invest in an idea of a new helmet.
Also, if the product being pitched does something that no product before it has been able to accomplish, be very skeptical. Bell, Giro, Specialized and Trek have been making helmets for years. They all dream about making a helmet that looks like a baseball cap and folds into a pocket. They just have never been able to figure a way to do it. And neither has Park & Diamond.
Journalistic stupidity: Digital Trends still has an article posted that states, “the Park and Diamond helmet is nearly as thin as a baseball cap while remaining just as protective as something more traditional.” The article misled investors. There was no helmet (there still isn’t). DT was regurgitating “claims” made by a company looking for investors. If you want to go down the rabbit hole of my coverage on the company, this is a good place to start.