If you thought that Skully’s plan to crowdfund an augmented reality motorcycle helmet was overly ambitious… unfortunately, you were right. After years of delays and several weeks of grave financial trouble, the startup has informed backers that it’s shutting down. Simply put, the company had run out of cash — it had been scrambling to raise some temporary funding, but that fell through. TechCrunch sources claim that Skully had even been trying to sell itself to Chinese tech giant LeEco. However, it reportedly alienated investors following number of disputes over a possible sale, manufacturing hiccups and executive spending.
Don’t expect a refund from Skully itself. The company is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and that doesn’t require a plan for repayment (which would be Chapter 11). If you’re out the $1,499 it cost to get a Skully, your best shot right now is to buy communication gear from Fusar, which is offering equivalent credit for its own smart helmet tech.
The shutdown is a not-so-subtle reminder of the inherent risks of crowdfunding. Despite what some creators say in their crowdfunding pitches, you’re not pre-ordering a product when you make a pledge — you’re providing financial support in the hopes of maybe, possibly getting something down the line. And producing an advanced, expensive niche product like an AR motorbike helmet only increases the challenge, since it involves both additional work and the support of a smaller customer base. Crowdfunding companies can offer production help or even insurance, but they can’t guarantee that you’ll get exactly what you paid for.