Ritot, a Ukrainian startup seeking crowdfunding on Indiegogo for a what they present as the “first projection watch,” has raised a considerable amount of funding, but garnered criticism and accusations of fraud in the process. With less than a week left in their Indiegogo campaign, the company has far surpassed its original target of $50,000 by taking in over $1 million from more than 6,000 backers.
According to Ukrainian tech blog AIN.UA, backers have begun to accuse the company of offering more than they can deliver. Some even doubt of the identity of Ritot’s founders and of the very existence of the technology required to develop the expected product.
Ritot is currently developing what it says is the first notification smartwatch. The watch being developed is supposed to display the time in digital form and to also project notifications regarding text messages, phone calls, emails, calendar or weather alerts, Twitter or Facebook messages, or any other app, by projecting an LED light onto your wrist.
With over $1 million raised, there has certainly been significant public interest in such a watch, but questions have been raised about the feasibility of the project. Issues with the proposed watch include the impossibility of projecting a quality image with a Pico projector at less than a 90 degree angle, photoshopped photos of the item “in use,” and parts costing several hundred dollars being packaged into a much cheaper final product.
With its latest update from last week, Ritot says that they have developed a test version of the watch. Co-creator Michael Medvid told The Next Web three weeks ago that they intend to release a working, but not final, prototype in a few months.
Medvid also told the US publication that, as a result of the political situation in Ukraine, they decided to relocate the business to San Francisco and to change their names. There have been suspicions about the mere existence of the creators of this project as they are unavailable on major social networks, but Medvid says that they intend to revive their social media accounts in the near future. The decision to “virtually” relocate to the United States was explained as an attempt to convince the public that the founders can be trusted to deliver on the promised item. They decided that people would be hesitant to back the company if they believed that political turmoil could ruin their prospects of receiving one of the watch units.
Ritot is not the only Ukrainian startup to carry out a successful crowdfunding campaign. Kickstarter appears to be particularly fruitful for Ukrainian companies, as WoodNBoom, a manufacturer of a rubber band gun, has raised more than $145,000, while hardware-company Concepter has obtained $155,000 for smartphone LED flash iblazr and picked up $155,000 for intelligent iPhone case Lunecase. Some startups have raised more, as pet-focused startup Petcube has taken home just over $250,000 and LaMetric, a Ukrainian-founded and London-based company developing a customizable smart ticker, has obtained more than $370,000.
On Indiegogo, there are a number of Ukraine-based projects other than Ritot. However, none have thus far raised $30,000.
Ukraine Digital News has reached out to Ritot for comment, but not received a response.