Crowdfunded Drones Fail to Launch

A Virginia woman preordered a drone from a crowdfunded startup with the promise it would be delivered in a few months, but it never came.

Lily, an autonomous, waterproof camera that can follow you intrigued Annie Rosello of Alexandria.

“I thought it would be a great birthday present,” she said.

She preordered one for $500 in June 2015 a month after the company launched its crowdfunding campaign to the public, asking drone enthusiasts to preorder the product still under development.

“I knew from their materials that it was going to take a little while, maybe six months, they were doing some testing, but I never expected it was going to take 18 months,” Rosello said.

According to the company’s social media, it raised $34 million for 60,000 units by the end of 2016, but delivery kept getting pushed back.

“Now we want your shipping address, now it’s coming in December, now it’s coming in January,” Rosello said. “I mean it’s just like little carrots all along the way.”


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Customers voiced frustration on the company’s Facebook page.

With no contact information available for Rosello to reach out to the company, she reached out to NBC4 Responds.

NBC4 Responds reached out to Lily Robotics by email, Twitter, Facebook and the CEO’s LinkedIn account without receiving a response, but 12 hours later, Rosello received an email from Lily to its customers expressing sadness in “ever-diminishing funds” and failed attempts to secure finance. The email promised refunds, and a follow up email confirmed Rosello’s refund was on its way.

The Federal Trade Commission warns before investing money into a crowdfunding site, check to see if the creator has successfully launched other products, and check the creator's background and reviews to see whether it delivered what it promised.

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