The Real Scammer: The Guy Who Cried ‘Scam’ on Soap Home Automation
Some anonymous guy calling himself Saironek on Reddit says Kickstarter home automation darling Soap is a scam. His ‘evidence’ is silly, Soap is legit, and we think we have the clown’s real name.
Some anonymous know-it-all blogging that Kickstarter home automation darling Soap is a “scam” appears to be the real scammer.
Calling himself Saironek, this clown went to the trouble of setting up a Reddit account six days ago for the sole purpose of discrediting Soap, only to embarrass himself instead, along with the news outlets that picked up his comical piece.
Soap, which is creating an Android-based home automation system on top of a router, launched on Kickstarter two weeks ago, generating more than $120,000 in pledges on an $80,000 goal in just a few days.
In a Reddit post titled, “WARNING - Soap Router: A Soapy Bubble of Scam,” Saironek cites as evidence of the “scam” that Soap has a lot of “fake” Twitter and Facebook followers. (We know this because Soap’s Facebook page has 3,000 “likes” but the company has only 600 backers. Why would you ever like a company if you’re not an investor?!)
In any case, what attention-seeking startup wouldn’t relish any follower, fake or otherwise?
“I don’t know why he wrote it,” says Soap principal Brandon Jones in an interview with CE Pro.
He says the ghost-blogger has been “trolling” Soap’s Kickstarter page as Sairon, asking questions “as if he were a backer.”
Beyond the incriminating fake-follower thing, Saironek presents far more damning evidence that Soap is “a candidate for the greatest scam of Kickstarter’s history.”:
According to the campaign description, Soap is developed by three guys, Alex and Brandon Jones and Dave Tilton. If you carefully watch all the videos, you can safely tell they don’t look like skilled HW and SW developers.
Do tell: What do skilled hardware and software developers look like? I know a lot of them, and some masquerade quite convincingly as normal people.
Further proof of the Soap fraud is that a crowdfunded project called Droidifi is way behind schedule. Droidifi, an Android-based router, is kind of like Soap. Ergo, Soap is a sham.
The other telltale sign of Soap’s deception, according to Saironek, is that the bill of materials for the product exceeds the asking price.
Evidently, while Saironek fancies himself a technological wiz, he lacks some understanding of basic business principles.
Kickstarter promotional prices are meant to generate interest in a product and reward those who risk early adoption. The very basic Soap Essentials is being offered to a handful of early investors for $60, or $40 off the projected retail price.
Who knows at this early stage if the product will ultimately sell for $100, but let’s say it does and let’s also concede that the price doesn’t cover the bill of materials.
That’s how you get the broadest exposure to consumers, manufacturers, investors and acquirers.
At that price point, “We can start generating interest,” says Jones. “Obviously we got the attention. I guess our strategy worked.”
Who is this Doubter?
First of all, Saironek is somewhat of a Soap competitor, as he writes: “I’m working as a software developer on a similar project - an open source router with custom-built hardware, running its own mod of open source OS OpenWrt.”
Second, he is much smarter than everyone else on the planet because it took his team a lot of time to get to where Soap is going, and Soap could not be nearly as clever.
“This is a fulltime job for eight people,” he writes, “two of whom are hardware developers, and only designing of the six-layer board itself and tweaking it to perfection took almost half a year.”
He goes on to detail all of the design flaws of Soap, indicating that since they are not building their product like he’s building his, they must be ripping people off.
Jones believes Saironek’s real name is Jan Cermak from the Czech Republic – the same guy that allegedly has been pressing one of Soap’s suppliers, Sage Technologies, for evidence that Soap is legit.
No matter how convincingly Sage vouches for Soap, Cermak isn’t having any of it.
Is Soap Actually Viable?
Admittedly, I had never heard of Soap before this scam of a scam story broke.
I have learned from Jones that Soap started out as a way to simplify a router and, at the same time, build in some automation capabilities with on-board smart-home radios (ZigBee, Z-Wave and Insteon) and open-source development.
It’s a good idea, especially since network connectivity is the trickiest part of any home automation system.
The idea, in fact, is not unlike the Almond+ product from Securifi, maker of smart routers and a Kickstarter sensation when it launched in January 2013. Securifi demonstrated at CES 2013 some home automation radios and software for making its little touchscreen router even smarter.
When I heard from Securifi late last year, during my pre-CES research, they told me they were still proceeding with the project but it was slow-going.
SCAM ALERT! And by association, Soap must be a scam, too!
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at email@example.com
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