One month after getting its million dollars, Healbe's scampaign keeps on stacking up broken promises

By James Robinson , written on May 19, 2014

From The News Desk

Throughout Moscow-based Healbe’s six week Indiegogo scampaign for its calorie counting GoBe wristband -- which netted over $1m -- red flags appeared at an alarming rate. Doctors and scientists said it was a truly impossible product, hardware experts commented that photos of the Healbe prototypes, a product set to ship in June, looked primitive and messy. The company pretended to be from San Francisco, exaggerated its CES launch and not a soul outside of Healbe could vouch for having seen the product working.

Healbe swore it was going to get more transparent, just as soon everyone’s money was safe in its account. But, funny story: $1 million richer, the company hasn’t gotten any more transparent. In fact the broken promises continue to stack up.

Promise number one: In the middle of April, just before the campaign closed, CEO Artem Shipitsin told people that that next week he would be “publishing a schedule of samples for press people.”

What did we get? Shipitsin and Managing Director George Mikaberydze came to America for a whirlwind trip soon after the campaign closed. In a brief update on Indiegogo, the only item on its agenda it boasted about was a two-day interview with an obscure tech website called Digital Trends. Healbe gave Digital Trends an exclusive glimpse at the GoBe in action, the first people to get such a privilege outside of Healbe’s employees and PR agents. Except, well, whatever happened across these two days of intense reporting, no one at Digital Trends was left with any idea about whether the GoBe worked. The Digital Trends article is a master class in inept reporting, peppered with lines like, “We don’t know how accurate the GoBe is…” and, “We were not permitted to wear it ourselves, nor were we left with a review unit.”

Promise number two: From Managing Director George Mikaberydze, soon after the Healbe campaign closed, “we will open healbe blog, where you can see our progress and ask questions…”

What did we get? No such blog. A little over week after Mikaberydze made this comment, Shipitsin followed up with a comment that the Indiegogo “comments page will remain active however we will not be monitoring it as regularly as we have in the past.” People should “connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things Healbe & GoBe.”

This last part, favoring Facebook as a method of communication, has been a source of considerable rancor on the Indiegogo comments thread. “I think it’s rather shady that they ignore people who aren’t connecting to them on Facebook,” wrote supporter William Irving.

“OK. Healbe chose to abandon us, the contributors of the GoBe, in favor of nonsense Facebook fans,” someone commented anonymously.

Promise three: Independent tests to be done in “May-June,” according to the campaign’s Indiegogo page. Which was already a suspicious promise in our eyes, meaning that Healbe would be testing its product the same month that it was supposed to be shipping.

What did we get? Nine days ago Shipitsin said that Healbe didn’t know when different components for the GoBe were going to be delivered. An update on Indiegogo from last week said that they were expecting to receive a number of units by the end of May that will be used for testing. So now, even taking Healbe at its word, it is looking at beginning to test the GoBe externally in the same month it is supposed to be shipping it.

It was always suspicious that Healbe was planning on being more transparent -- sending review samples to journalists, setting up a company blog for people to follow along with its production process, getting independent validation for the miracle calorie counting powers of the GoBe --  only after it banked over $1 million dollars on Indiegogo. But with each passing week the window in which the company can be explained away as just inept, incompetent, or simply a little slow shuts tighter and tighter.

Instead of an actual product that it could prove and demonstrate in action, last week Healbe talked up triumphantly having submitted its app to the Apple Store for approval, in hopes, it seems, of controlling a product that no one outside of Healbe can vouch for actually existing.

But hey, it’s Healbe. If we can count on them for anything, it’s weirdness, confusion and dishonesty.

[Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]