Europe’s Biggest Kickstarter Project Implodes. Will You Continue To Trust Kickstarter?

by Hugh Brownstone4 Comments

Noted as the largest Kickstarter funding to date in Europe, the Zano mini-drone promised too much – and has now tanked. Completely. But this is part of a larger pattern emerging in the imaging industry, as we now offer the next installment of what we’ve decided is a new series entitled, “Not Everyone Likes the Concept of Minimum Viable Products,” or perhaps “What Works for Software Companies May Not Work Quite as Well for Hardware Companies.”

After raising more than £2 million on Kickstarter plus taking additional pre-orders even before the Kickstarter campaign began, British company Zano was well-positioned to make a big splash in drone photography and videography.

As long as it delivered what it promised.

Epic fail.

The CEO has resigned and the company just announced they've halted the project altogether and are pursuing “a creditors' voluntary liquidation.”

The project has gone belly up.

I’ve written it before, and I’ll write it here again: I’m very sympathetic to entrepreneurs, I like the idea of crowd-funding and I understand the tension between getting a product perfect and getting it out the door.

But insofar as putting out hardware products before they’re quite ready seems to be a growing trend (see our posts on Samsung’s NX1  [B&H|Amazon] , Sony A7s II  [B&H|Amazon] and Leica SL  here, here and here) — it seems increasingly clear that unless you know the people involved, it’s prudent to wait a bit before snapping up the newest gear — startup or global conglomerate alike.

Via Crowdfund Insider:

Largest UK Kickstarter Campaign Ever Zano Goes Bust. Begins Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation

November 18, 2015 @ 10:30 am By 

Back in December 2014, British company Torquing Group took to Kickstarter with a mission to raise funds for its new nano “smart” drone, Zano. The project was met with backer enthusiasm and excitement as it secured a grand total of £2,335,119 ($3,550,665.20 USD).

Zano 1The Zano was supposed to be smart because you “task it” as opposed to flying the device.  Backers supported the project because it was described as packing tons of tech into a very small package like WiFi, HD camera, GPS, Barometric Pressure reader, IR Obstacle avoidance, image stabilization. The list was long.

Things were looking pretty good. At the beginning of September 2015, Torquing Group announced it had shipping to first few units … a dream come true for drone fans.

But now it appears as if this smart drone will never quite fly. In a backers only notification, Zano creator Torquing group announced it has filed for voluntary liquidation. Zano is no more.

for the complete story, visit here.

BBC: Kickstarter’s Zano drone fails to fly

Via sUAS News:

It was Europe’s most successful Kickstarter project – but now the Zano mini-drone is in deep crisis.

Last night, the former chief executive of Torquing Group – the firm behind the Zano – resigned. That left the thousands who had backed the firm with more than £2m a year ago in despair.

Ivan Reedman, the engineer driving the design of the mini-drone, explained why he was going in a post on a Zano forum.

“My resignation is due to personal health issues and irreconcilable differences,” he wrote.

Read full article at sUAS News “BBC: Kickstarter’s Zano drone fails to fly”


ZANO in action

(cover photo credit: snap from the sUAS News)


  1. You guys should see how the Chinese kickstarter copies are doing things, most projects have a 30-45 day delivery after the campaign ends. And a lot of the projects are from very large groups like existing establish manufactures and the like. 

    wondering if i should back this project.. only for China folk though – which is ok I live here in GZ, China haha.. $930usd or so.. 
    13466 supporters Support ¥ 5999
    Thanks for your support, after all the chips in the end, you will raise $ 5999 all the exclusive price, get [“by the power” C1] transboundary a cool car. And the value of 110,000 accident insurance (one year period) 1. Please include your name in the remarks, identity card number as well as your phone number, we will insure you at the time of shipment.
    Delivery Fee: Free Shipping
    : Expected return of the transmission time within 45 days after the successful completion of the project

  2. Kickstarter is always a crap shoot. The potentially amazing X3 filters that have been featured on Planet 5D before were also an unexpected reminder of that. 

    I ordered the circular polarizer after being featured on 5D from the X3 guys. And after confirming my address once the funding wrapped up, I asked about them getting me my UV filter (another one called X3) that had never been sent in a previous funding drive. Wasn’t worried, though, since I’d invested in the polarizer, too. 

    Graham, one of the founders, called me out for doing this since he said it was a public forum. But I didn’t really know any other way to get ahold of the manufacturer and just wanted to make sure I got the UV filter I already paid for. And then he got rude and demeaning in emails… all the while I was scratching my head trying to figure out why he was so angry.

    End story is he decided I didn’t ‘deserve’ the polarizer and refunded me that money, though I didn’t ask him to do this. Then asked for my Paypal information to refund the UV filter… but never did refund the money.

    So many of these entrepreneurs haven’t ever done manufacturing, possibly haven’t dealt with subcontractors, and clearly aren’t skilled in customer service. So it’s certainly buyer beware.

  3. guenthergroup Hey Kelly Guenther,

    Graham Clark here, from Breakthrough Photography. 

    During our first Kickstarter each photographer had to complete three simple steps in order for us to send them their filters:

    1. Checkout on our site (for free)
    2. Provide address
    3. That’s it

    You were accusing us (malicious intent) in a public forum (not unlike this post) of not sending your product when you simply didn’t complete the process. How could we send your X3 UV without your address? 🙂

    We did refund you on PayPal your $53 (can’t do it on Kickstarter), my apologies for not doing it immediately, but we’ve been a little under pressure with manufacturing and shipping to 1,949 photographers.


  4. I’m just going to put my two cents in here as a business owner who got started on Kickstarter.

    Kickstarter is inherently risky for the creator because a creator of a project/product you must come up with a sufficiently unique and innovative idea, then launch a Kickstarter project which is the ultimate gambit as less than 9% of Kickstarter projects get funded, and if it does get funded you then have to figure out how to make it.

    Figuring out how to make something completely new and unique is not easy. Even longstanding sophisticated companies fail in that department. So it doesn’t’ surprise me that a drone project such as this one got the creator in the deep end where manufacturing complexity is concerned.

    On the flipside, as a backer it’s incredibly risky because Kickstarter (the company) does not place any legal obligations on the creator to actually ship and deliver, and lots of project creators understandably get themselves into the deep and can’t end up pulling it off, and as a result some projects never ship, and if they do it’s sometimes years later and the creators are in huge debt. And the backers are left out to hang.

    Having launched two successful campaigns and successfully created and delivered thousands of products, I found the easy way to eliminate the risk for backers is to completely finish the product, and then launch Kickstarter to test market demand. Then, if funded, it’s just a matter of making more.

    Kickstarter is an incredible platform new ideas and more importantly to confirm or deny demand in an idea. Manufacturing that idea and turning the idea into a reality is incredibly complex, and there’s always curveballs in manufacturing, so the fact that some great ideas just end up being more complex and failing to become reality should deter photographers from having fun with this awesome platform, assuming of course you don’t mind the risk of potentially losing whatever money you put into it.


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