Kickstarter: Smart luggage scam list

Unfortunately, kickstarter, indiegogo and other large crowdfunding sites promise big things but frequently don’t deliver. Kickstarter’s own analysis shows that 1 in 10 projects fail completely, and of those only 13% will get any refund at all.

Smart luggage is exciting tech, and the development, manufacturing at scale, and global shipping is harder than expected. It is therefore a large target for over promising and under delivering!

To keep an eye out for kickstarters that have gone wrong, this is the big list of crowdfunding smart luggage scams. We will try and update it as soon as we are aware of any others.

We’ll call it the luggage list of disappointment.

Naucrates ride on smart luggage

Who were they?

Unlike failed or underwhelming crowdfunding campaigns, there are a few that are outright scams. Unfortunately, Naucrates was one of these.

Naucrates was a combination of reseller and fraudulent product scam listed on Indiegogo at the end of 2019, attracting over £500,000.

What they promised

naucrates ride on luggage scam

Naucrates promised an interesting combination of smart luggage — ride on robotic luggage.

Unlike other tech-packed smart suitcases that follow you, Naucrates would do all this and allow you to jump on and ride it if you wanted to.

What’s happened with Naucrates?

It was a real — albeit knock off product — produced in China. This is an unfortunately common side effect of crowdfunding sites, taking existing products and reselling them as a crowdfunded novelty known as a reseller scam.

naucrates ride on smart luggage reseller scam

Look, It was a real product, it just didn’t do what it said they would, and wasn’t theirs.

However, to give it the edge over other reseller scams Naucrates added a pretend feature — the ability to ride the smart luggage. Lots of people including some big names fell for it and inadvertently advertised the scam.

The result was that Indiegogo profited roughly £30,000 in fees, half a million pounds went missing, and nobody got any luggage.

Barracuda Collapsible Luggage

Who were they?

Barracuda were a company jumping on the smart baggage wagon early in 2015. Their ultra short, successful, Kickstarter campaign raised $1.2 million in just 45 days!

What they promised

barracuda collapsible luggage

The promise behind Barracuda’s collapsible luggage was that it would offer USB charging and a tray to rest your laptop on when travelling, but wouldn’t take up any room at home.

This is because the luggage was designed to be collapsible using a four point system, folding

What’s happened with Barracuda?

Barracudas Kickstarter wasn’t an outright scam, it was more of a 50/50 chance whether you received your — slightly rubbish — luggage.

Many early Kickstarters received their collapsible cases, and Barracuda used the crowdfunded money to set up a website run between 2017-2019 selling cases directly.

The reviews were appalling and the company ran out of cash. Leaving the remainder of the Kickstarter backers — who at this time had been waiting nearly 2 years — out of pocket.

Barracuda Konzu

Who were they again?

The company that half-made a collapsible suitcase with terrible reviews, remember? They launched another overwhelmingly successful crowdfunded campaign to produce a smart backpack in 2017.

What they promised

Undeterred by the terrible quality collapsible smart luggage — and hundreds of backers that received no goods — Barracuda forged on.

barracuda konzu backpack

Their 2nd Kickstarter in 2017 advertised a smart backpack named the Konzu.

The smart backpack promised everything, smart locks, RFID proof secure pockets, an inbuilt device charger, water proofing, an open bag alerting system and much more.

The main differentiator though, was a unique wireless charging shelf for the bag. This meant you didn’t have the hassle of plugging in a cable to recharge the inbuilt battery, you could simply install a new shelf in your house instead.

What happened with the Barracuda Konzu?

In a similar story to their collapsible smart suitcase, a lot of over promising and under delivering left around 75% of the backers without a product or a refund.

The few that did receive their orders got the usual Barracuda luggage service:

I ordered 2 and only received 1. I didn’t get the charging stand either I ordered. And the backpack doesn’t lock like in the video. Very disappointed.

Mark — Early backer

Novi luggage

Who were they?

Novi were a short-lived kickstarter that ran throughout 2019, raising over $395,000 advertising on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. This was their first product, a smart luggage case available in two sizes: the carry-on sized Novi Citus, and the checkable Novi Atlas.

novi kickstarter smart luggage fraud comparison

Interestingly, Novi’s competitor shown in the Others table is Bluesmart. Another Kickstarter smart luggage company that arguably started the entire smart luggage movement.

Although Bluesmart were legit. (Before they boldly announced that airlines would change their regulations to fit around smart luggage batteries and not the other way round)

They went bust too.

What they promised

The Novi Kickstarter campaign promised all the smart luggage tech: fingerprint scanners, self-weighing bags, and GPS tracking with one unique difference. It was in a sleek luxury designed aluminium hard case called the Novi Atlas.

So luxury in fact, it was a complete rip off high-end german brand Rimowa!

Spot the difference:

What’s happened with Novi Luggage?

Novi Luggage’s Kickstarter page was subject to a DMCA takedown by Rimowa and is no longer available. Customers report more success from getting a refund via Indiegogo than Kickstarter, where the majority of the backers have received nothing.

Floatti Luggage

Who were they?

Floatti were an ambitious kickstarter brand promising to bring upmarket luxury to smart luggage, raising over 3/4 of a million dollars via Indiegogo and Kickstarter throughout 2016.

Unlike many other crowdfunding projects, we have already built and tested a fairly mature working prototype & APP, and thus with your help, we would be able to polish the current design and then move onto the pre-production stage in a reasonable period of time.

Floatti — 2016

What they promised

Floatti inc promised a high-end smart suitcase with all the usual features, bag tracking, device charging, self-weighing etc but with 3 key differences.

  • Suspension (incase you’re transporting a suitcase full of eggs)
  • Luxury leather touches with personalisation
  • A smart handle that allows you to use the phones app via swiping the handle instead of your phone

What happened with Floatti Inc?

Floatti strung their customers along for roughly 2 years. Having raised money via crowdfunding, Floatti decided Kickstarter and Indiegogo weren’t really for them, and they would instead make different suitcases, sell them to retail, and maybe get around to doing the, making the product people had paid for on Kickstarter thing, in the future.

In this time they used their backers money to launch a website for new customers, and create a retail batch of 600 units that didn’t have any of the advertised features. They attempted to sell these featureless suitcases for profit. This failed. Then they went bust. And then they tried to pretend that it wasn’t a scam, and they could maybe ship — the completely different suitcases — to some of their backers instead.

Floatti created 600 suitcases for over 2100 global backers, in black, only if you lived in the USA, without any of the smart features.

They also offered some soothing advice to the majority of their customers who received nothing:

Looking back, and kindly sharing the biggest advice to anyone who wishes to start their own product, is to have a dedicated financial adviser who is constantly seeking additional funding, who also drafts projections and valuations for your company. The cost for direct to consumer marketing for a new brand is simply monumental.

Oliver Lam — Floatti CEO