News about Apricoat here!
During the past three years I was a passionate backer of crowdfunding campaigns. There have been some ups but also some downs. Some rewards were incredible and at some campaigns I am asking myself today, why the hell did I back this. Well, that is the exciting thing about crowdfunding, you never know what to expect. Some creators know that they can build up their reputation with a well managed crowdfunding campaign. They are able to bring a new product to life and built their brand with a loyal base of customer (who have been first backers). But there are also examples when a creator is destroying his reputation so badly with a mismanaged campaign, that there won’t be any way back out of it – one of these examples is Apricoat – A zero-compromise jacket, that is basically only built on compromises. I am a backer of this campaign and I honestly regret it. The campaign started really well, was high funded and immediately after the campaign finished and Apricoat collected the money, the trouble started. But Let’s jump to the beginning see what happened since then – or Let’s call it “How to ruin your reputation with crowdfunding.”
Apricoat – The new kid on the block to bring down established brands
When this campaign appeared on Kickstarter, it looked very promising.. The jacket was presented in a cute video, the marketing machinery was running. I guess I discovered it through a Facebook ad. In the campaign it was described that the team members have “a lot of experience in project management, material design, business finances and with their partners on crowdfunding and fulfillment there would be little room for errors and even ensure quick delivery.” The team also mentioned that they tested the prototype for the last three years in different conditions around the world and created the perfect jacket for adventures. The Apricoat Team announced their table to contents:
- DWD Differential Weight Distribution Design – this should mean, no matter how or what you are putting into the jacket pockets, the jacket would always balance the weight distribution and would look great on you
- 16 thoughtful pockets, even one for a hydration pack in the back of the jacket
- Inflatable hood pillow to have a comfy rest when traveling or during a hike
- Safe Anchor – A safety feature that can be used when in trouble, the anchor should have been able to hold 400 lbs.
- ClimateShell Insulation – Should be the latest technology and enables you to wear the jacket in warm and cold conditions, is ultra thin and lightweight, breathable and waterproof
Besides this amazing features the jacket should come with a blindfold, built-in sleeve gloves and manufactured of flexi-durable materials, a jacket which should last a decade.
While the campaign was running and active, the creator was responding to backer queries quick and in a hasty manner and the excitement about this new and fantastic jacket was rising. Everyone was hoping that the Apricoat team would keep their promise and deliver the jackets in time for winter.
As the campaign was very successful and the amount of ordered jacket were much higher than expected backers were worried about the quality. Apricoat was assuring that quality control would be very important as they want to delivery an outstanding jacket. Due to the high demand they wanted to use a 3rd party company for this. Production should take place in China by a manufacturer with high experience and making high quality outdoor gear.
Campaign ended – And so did the Service
Just after the campaign ended and the money got collected from Apricoat, they started to do changes. It started off that one of the original colors, Blue Melange, was replaced by Navy Blue, because their marketing team was thinking it would be more fashionable. This happened without consulting with the backers. As the campaign ended, those who decided to take the Blue Melange, would have been forced to choose a different color without having the chance to back out and receive a refund. After some rage of backers, Blue Melange was brought back as additional color option. In total the color range was growing to 6 options. Backers were asking for pictures of the jackets in those colors to make a choice in the survey. Apricoat was not able to provide pictures of their prototypes. This fact was raising suspicion.
The next downfall was not far away. Apricoat decided to cancel the Safe Anchor, one of the key features, due to safety concerns. Backers who backed the project specifically because of the Safe Anchor had no option to cancel their pledge as Apricoat refused to process refunds. Instead, they were starting a survey and offered three options as compensation to taking away the Anchor. Backers voted that they wanted to have a Hydration pack included that should fit perfectly in the designated pocket in the back of the jacket.
More and more backers were unhappy with the project and Apricoat was not able to calm backers down. The opposite was the case. Due to obvious language difficulties information were misinterpreted and some backers were getting really annoyed and trying to cancel their pledge through the credit card company. Some might have success, some did not. Apricoat ignored the comments section completely after calling backers toxic and only communicated in updates about the progress. No surprise that the estimated delivery date couldn’t be kept.
There have been other instances that raised suspicions of a scam, f.e a photo of a Gerber Multitool which could have been ordered as add-on and turns out to be a non-branded one.
Apricoat made a huge change to the initial jacket as they added a fleece lining for bigger comfort on the inside of the jacket. The Climateshell was supposed to work in colder and warmer conditions. Adding now a fleece to the jacket would make it much warmer. Some might think this should just cover up the fact that there is no Climateshell at all. Will be interesting to see (or feel) if the jacket will be waterproof or/and breathable at all.
Rushing to the finish line
After some weeks was really quiet and Apricoat did not provide much news, the updates were published in a steady flow. Team members traveled to China as the materials arrived in the “Assembling Center”. The Chinese New is approaching and it seems that Apricoat tries to rush the product through the finishing line as they want to ship orders to American and European backers by sea freight before the holidays are starting. I am in doubt that extensive quality controls are done as Apricoat is not mentioning anything about the results of that 3rd party company. So I am really assuming that this step was completely left out in the hope the jackets will be OK.
When the materials arrived in the Assembly Center the team (keep in mind that they mentioned that they have a huge experience in project management, material design, business finances and with their partners on crowdfunding and fulfillment) discovered all of a sudden, that they had not enough coats in certain colors and sizes and they forced backers to make a different choice through Backerkit.
Remember that I was mentioning above that Apricoat removed the Safe Anchor and as compensation they have been offering a hydration pack to be included in every jacket? Guess what…just before shipping is starting they are shooting another bomb at their backers. The hydration pack is now out of the blue to expensive and is canceled for all backers. Ahem what?? Yeah…they play the innocent virgin Mary and claim that they discovered this now…not days ago, not weeks ago, not months ago…but at the point when the packages are being packed in the Chinese assembly station.
I am really curious, if this jacket will ever arrive, if it will be anything like they claimed or just a cheap jacket bought of Alibaba with a custom “Apricoat” print on it…but wait…maybe they will realize it will be too expensive to ship the jacket all around the world and cancel the whole thing….and have then a good life down in Israel with all our spend money that we have thrown at them.
The Name Apricoat will be harmed forever
Even if the jacket will be amazing. This campaign shows how the interaction with backers can ruin a reputation forever. Whoever will google the name Apricoat, it will always appear the Kickstarter campaign on one of the first pages. If someone will research the company they will find out about the failure and mistakes this team of amateurs did. They treated their backers like garbage instead of respect, they stopped interacting with them and ignored concerns or criticism.
Unfortunately campaigns like Apricoat, Titan Note or Weatherpoint (might report about them in the future too, otherwise just google them) are ruining the whole crowdfunding scene.
Will let you know, how the jacket turns out….until then if you want to back a project, be cautious, ask questions and back out if you are not 100% convinced.
If you had issues with a different campaign, if you are also a backer of Apricoat or if you like to share your thoughts, don’t hesitate and leave comment.
Thank you for reading!
P.S.: Next time you can read about an outstanding campaign to restore faith in crowdfunding.