Following the story of Healbe and its supposedly calorie counting, $1 million Indiegogo scampaigning GoBe wristband is like watching a weird piece of avant garde cinema. Things happen next to each other without explanation, reason or correlation.
The day after I sat down to lunch with Healbe’s CEO Artem Shipitsin, Head of Sales Stanislav Povolotsky and its retail distributor from Levin Consulting, Bob Marcantonio, where the three of them admitted, in essence, that the GoBe didn’t really work as they said, the GoBe actually won a prize.
Like… for its technology.
As Shipitsin, Povolotsky and Marcantonio made sales calls in the west, Managing Director George Mikaberydze was in New York, representing the company at CE Week’s Battle of the Bands. It was a contest where alongside four other wearable tech companies, Healbe had to make a four minute presentation about — but not show off in any real meaningful way — its GoBe wristband. Its competition included a personal trainer who is not listed as promoting anything, and Skulpt, fellow Indiegogo graduates who are also late in shipping a product.
You can watch the presentation here. Healbe starts at the 29:25 mark. Interestingly, Mikaberydze hands the floor over to Brian Blanchette of MicroArts Creative Agency, Healbe’s former PR leads, to do much of the talking.
“While we’re thrilled to have won the Battle of the Bands and for the chance to show GoBe off at CE Week, we are most passionate about continuing to innovate and deliver a new future of health and wellness,” Healbe wrote on its Indiegogo page yesterday.
Disconcerting really, that once again Healbe were allowed to skate by on miracle claims without its feet being held to the fire in any discernible way.
However, more illuminating than winning a prize for staging a live informercial against a weak field of companies, was that let loose on reporters in New York, Mikaberydze’s was speaking from a very different script about the GoBe than his colleagues were the day beforehand.
Which is worrying. For a small company, one arm of Healbe seems to have little clue what the other is doing. At the very least it’s a massive issue in communication and core competency. At the worst it suggests that company is just making up answers as it goes along.
Mikaberydze told Caitlyn McGarry from Tech Hive at the CE Week event that the company was set to publish more of its internal results this week showing that the GoBe has an 86 percent accuracy rate. It hasn’t. This plan was not been mentioned to me the day prior. He also said third-party tests will be released in August and that the company was meeting with eight independent medical experts to give them a GoBe this week, where the day beforehand Povolotsky and Shipitsin talked only about the difficulties of getting these tests done and the need to perfect the product before they did so.
Whereas Shipitsin was still hopeful in conversation to me that the Healbe would ship in August, Mikaberydze told McGarry that it would be sent out in September.
In a “weird” fashion (McGarry’s words) Mikaberydze showed off Shipitsin’s Facebook page, littered with check-ins at Apple headquarters (Marcantonio had tried to blatantly hint to me that they’d met with Apple), Best Buy and Fry’s, to prove just how for real Healbe is in its sales attempts.
Par for the company course, McGarry was allowed to see, but not use, a GoBe.
“For now, all I can share is what I saw, and I didn’t see an activity tracker than can automatically measure my calorie intake,” she wrote.
That sounds about right.