Cases

Disclosing investment scheme and customer fraud of Ukrainian IT startups

ENG
In 2016, Ukrainian IT startup introduced a robot vacuum cleaner controlled by Alexa. The project raised $100,000 of the required $50,000 on Kickstarter and $140,000 on Indiegogo. In 2019, the company won a €1 million non-refundable grant from the European Commission and, according to the founder, received 5,000 customer orders for a total amount of $2 million. However, according to customs invoices, 61 orders were shipped in 2019 and none in 2020. At least four backers received damaged product due to improper packaging and 25 backers are still waiting for the shipment, as reported in the comments.

In December 2020, the company uncovered production had been suspended due to the coronavirus, and shipments would resume in 2021. Customer Service temporarily does not accept returns of damaged products.

Molfar established that the startup's co-founder and one of its investors were involved in another troubled project. Haptic feedback controllers manufacturer failed to deliver products to its customers or delivered them damaged. The pattern was similar: creating MVP, going to Kickstarter and finding investors, raising funds and smoothly winding down production. A background check on the project's owners, which Molfar analysts performed for one of the investors, helped avoid a repetition of the situation and financial losses.