Orange County real estate agent Michael Wiener has committed himself to the principles of hard work and integrity. These two principles are something that he has built his business on, he says.
Although he is paid for his skills as a seller, Wiener is also a buyer in his spare time. The self-described entrepreneur often contributes to online crowdfunding campaigns. He contributes money to back projects and helps bring creative projects to life. Rather than back books or films, Wiener funds campaigns where he is offered a tangible reward in return.
“It seems like a great way for an individual to get funding to be able to create something that starts out as an idea that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to produce or bring to market,” Wiener said.
Over the past few years, Wiener has contributed money to 20 different projects via the global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. In 2013, he paid $200 to back a project claiming to deliver its supporters a “next generation smartwatch with brand-new technology.”
“At that point, that was long before Apple or really anybody else had a smartwatch on the market and to me that was a very appealing product,” Wiener said.
Since its creation, the project titled “AGENT: The World’s Smartest Watch” has surpassed its $100,000 goal and raked in more than $1 million in donations from 5,685 backers.
It is now more than two years after the campaign’s start date and Wiener and the other backers have yet to receive the AGENT smartwatch.
“This smartwatch will not be smart … If it comes out today, it’s going to be two years behind the times,” Wiener said. “Pretty useless, I would think.”
Wiener has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Chris Walker, the project manager and campaign creator of the AGENT smartwatch.
He said that Kickstarter’s Integrity team must hold creators responsible if they do not deliver what their campaign promises.
“The project creator has to have a legitimate project that they can create and Kickstarter needs to hold them to that … there needs to be some sort of recourse if they don’t fulfill their obligations,” Wiener said.
The crowdfunding platform encourages its creators to be honest and ethical while conducting business on the website, according to Kickstarter’s Trust and Safety guidelines.
“Personally it just feels like somebody stole $200 from me. I was just scammed out of it.”
Wiener says his experience with the AGENT smartwatch campaign has “absolutely” made him wary of backing other Kickstarter campaigns, although he has backed other projects since AGENT.
“I have backed some others since this, but I do my due diligence. I research the company and the individual,” he said.