Tellspec admits it can't make device in its $400k Indiegogo project, months after denying our report
In April, we reported that Toronto-based TellSpec -- which had raised $386,392 on Indiegogo at the end of 2013 for its handheld, calorie counting food scanner -- had used a dummy device in its video that it still didn’t actually know how to make.
It turns out that TellSpec agrees with us. Quietly, in an Indiegogo update posted 13 days ago, the company said that it still wasn’t sure how to make its technology.
The Indiegogo update, posted 13 days ago, begins with a grandiose justification of why the Tellspec is having problems.
“TellSpec plays in a sandbox of many hidden unknown technology variables in the process of development,” the update reads, signed only from the ‘TellSpec Team’.
“Start-ups & established companies (Apple for example) that build disruptive innovative technologies & have the potential to change human behaviour...take a LONG time to create the best consumer product.”
TellSpec then flat out concedes that it can’t do it like it said it could in its Indiegogo campaign. Bear in mind, that TellSpec presented its prototype in its launch video as being a done deal that was ready for production. It was only in the days after it launched last October, when onlookers were dubious that TellSpec had miniaturized the expensive, hulking raman spectrometer necessary to pull this off, that the company admitted that the gadget it was displaying was a simulation only.
In March, on Indiegogo TellSpec announced that it was switching up the fundamental technology that would power the scanner. In this latest update, it said it was going back to the drawing board, announcing a new feasibility study and said that it is its goal for the product they're working on now to be the same size as the one they pretended to already have finished. The TellSpec was already four months late, scheduled to arrive in December, not August. That has been pushed into 2015 and that after it ships, TellSpec’s algorithms will take about a year to be good enough for the product to be accurate.
“We are making every conceivable & commercial company-wide effort to deliver the best final consumer product. At this time, our continued goal is to build a final product that is as similar to the original concept as possible. It may take 1 or 2 iterations. But the final product will be as similar as we can make it.”
Essentially, TellSpec pretended to know how to make a product, raised $386,392, have engaged in a seven month R&D process with its crowdfunding cash and have now admitted that they’re only left with hope they can make it kind of like the mock up they tricked Indiegogo users with. The page is now flooded with refund requests.
After our first story ran TellSpec CEO Isabelle Hoffman emailed to tell me that I “do not understand what [Tellspec] are doing and what our technology is.”
I’d probably level that same accusation against her. Only a shame that Indiegogo's audience had to end up several hundred thousand dollars out of pocket for her to come clean on that.
When contacted for comment, Hoffman, TellSpec's CEO walked me over the initial pitch for the product and the news of the latest delays.
"As you know, when delivering a new and innovative product, unforeseen delays may occur. We outlined these risks in our IGG campaign page. We do our best to keep our community of supporters updated on product progress," she said.