Another day, another Kickstarter drama – one of Peachy Printer's co-founders has accused his partner of stealing 50% of the funds garnered from the crowdfunding campaign and using the money to build himself a house, thus making it impossible for the product to be commercially realised for backers.
On 11 May, Peachy Printer creator Ryan Grayston, who co-owns firm Rinnovated Design, wrote a lengthy statement on the product's official website and on Kickstarter accusing his business partner David Boe of embezzling C$324,716 ($252,488, £174,762) after funds from both Kickstarter and another campaign on Indiegogo were deposited into Boe's personal bank account.
Boe held a 50% stake in Rinnovated Design and dealt with financial matters, while Grayston headed up technical development. The $100 stereolithography 3D printer Peachy Printer was praised as being an additive manufacturing game changer when the initial Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign launched in September 2013.
The start-up continued to keep backers informed on updates to software and the development of beta testing kits throughout 2014 and even posted new about estimated delivery dates and pictures of the completed hardware in May 2015. However after that, the company stated that it was having problems with its production process that was delaying deliveries. These posts continued until March 2016.
Confessing to the world
No updates were posted in April, but on 11 May Grayston released a lengthy statement on the Peachy Printer website explaining the situation, detailing how he responded to the situation and how he pursued repayment from Boe. To date he claims to have received C$107,000 in repayments, but the payments stopped on 2 March 2015.
Grayston says he only found out about the theft of the funds a year into the campaign. The official website details how the funds garnered from the two crowdfunding campaigns were used and contains accompany evidence, including a picture of Boe's new house and notes on the attempts he and his colleagues made to approach him to return the funds. He also stated how he moved Peachy Printer production into his own home and laid off all employees, retaining only his brother, who has had to take a steep pay cut.
At the same time, Grayston also put a simplified post on Kickstarter, together with two YouTube videos. One video contained evidence of phone conversations with Boe, while the other video entailed Grayston inviting three backers living nearby to come and interview him on camera about the issue.
Struggling to ship 3D printers
"I don't want to quit. I really want to get all the backers their printers," Grayston told one of the backers in the video. "I've been working on this for two and half years now and I just put everything into it. I just feel like my legs have been cut off, you know? I've waited as long as I can wait for this money to come in, and we are flat broke right now.
"Because we had this agreement with [Boe], and all the things he had done to reassure us he was going to pay, I felt that the right thing to do would be to keep going, so we rounded up money from other places like government grants and just tried to hold the whole thing together, and we did accomplish the R&D for the V1 kit.
"But really, Dave's actions have really damaged the company, especially now that we've laid everyone off. It's a very hard position to be in and if we can find a solution... I want all you guys to know that I want that and I'm here, I care about this project, and the printer works shockingly well. We actually did it, we made this printer work."
Grayston says that although he has no idea how they can afford to ship the printers out to backers, he still wants to find a way to do so. To that end, after dealing with Boe's lawyer and failing to receive any more repayments after March 2015, he sought new legal counsel and reported the theft to Saskatoon City Police in October 2015.
Saskatoon City Police is asking for backers of the Peachy Printer to come forward and speak to them about the issue, and Grayston has included several email addresses relating to the police department and other officials in Canada on Kickstarter for backers to contact. Grayston is also asking all backers to fill out a survey letting him know what they would like to do going forward.