DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is designed to provide helpful information on the subject discussed. The information in this article is true and complete to the best of my knowledge. The views, information, or opinions expressed in this article are solely of those of the individuals involved. All information provided on and taken is at the reader’s risk. The information provided is for entertainment purposes, i.e., I am not providing legal or other professional advice. Samantha Yates, Past the Cellar Door, or any of the sources will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information presented in this article. Ms. Yates assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this article. The information contained is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness and without any warranties of any kind whatsoever, express or implied.
With that being said, all information included in this article is from the perspective and experience of myself and other individuals involved in this subject. I have not changed any given statements, and I have done the best of my ability to validate the accuracy of each statement given.
Prodigy’s Backer Program
I’d like to begin by addressing all of the negative comments and concerns I’ve received in the process of not only writing and planning this article but throughout the entire operation. To those who warned me, I wish I listened. For those of you who will tell me to read Kickstarter’s terms and conditions, trust me when I say I have. Seeking any and every loop hole since I realized I was never going to receive my Prodigy smart hoop. Not because the project has failed, but because myself, and many others, were deceived by Prodigy Hoops and the creator, Jonathan Clark.
I had full intention of coming into this article claiming this ‘smart hoop’ a scam, and Clark as a swindling fraud. After so much research, my eyes are bleeding, and my knuckles bruised, but I’ve realized we’re all just completely clueless. Jonathan Clark had too high of expectations, and instead of admitting defeat he has decided to tell fibs about his process and where he’s actually spent the money funded by the backers. I don’t believe this project started as a scam, but I believe it has turned into one with Jon’s unprofessionalism. I’ve received many statements from fellow backers (those who funded the Kickstarter project) and even some people who have just been keeping tabs on this project. I sit here now, ready to burst with information of deceit and selfishness. Everything I’m about to avow is from the experience of myself and others involved in this project.
When Clark first birthed the idea of this project he made very inflated claims and goals for this hoop and all for a lower price than most hoops. Some of the other smart hoop creators confronted him of how unrealistic his vision was for many reasons relating to financials and production. After this, Jon took most of his updates private and exclaimed to each of the backers that this information shouldn’t be shared outside of the group, yet I don’t recall ever giving a fair reason why.
Prodigy’s backer group was born in February 2016. A Kickstarter project was funded completely by about four hundred people on March 11, 2016. Jonathan Clark raised $95,838 for what he claimed to be the smartest smart hoop yet. For those of you who don’t know, a smart hoop is an LED hula hoop with many features meant for the purpose of flow arts and performance. For this Prodigy hoop, that meant high performance LED lights with motion detection and a unique pattern system. It was also claimed to be water/ dust resistant, have perfect counter balance and custom connectors that were unbreakable. With over one hundred and fifty LED’s in each hoop, a power movement system and declared twenty times faster than most hoops, this offer was one we couldn’t resist. These were only a couple features mentioned. Sets of poi were also made available yet not much information ever surfaced regarding those.
Pledges and donations were made from one dollar to five hundred and twenty-five dollars. We were promised this was a prominent investment. Little did we know, we would soon be receiving empty promises and filler statements to keep us happy. I have no clue how long he plans to draw out this project or if any of us will actually receive this smart hoop. However, there are many things I do know that I would like to share.
Clark began this group with regular updates, the entire backer community frequently expressed their excitement. As time passed, updates came less frequently. The updates also became longer with more filler information and no actual update on the process of the hoop being created. He often sent updates just to give the backers something to dwell on, even if the information was incorrect.
Through all of the statements I received, there’s one from an anonymous source that really tells the story from a teammates perspective. Information that I, as a backer, had to stop reading halfway through to comprehend the lies I’d been receiving. This person knew Jon and this backer project well. The information I will relay will most likely upset a few backers and supporters of this project, but this is knowledge that needs to be heard by many.
These hoops were originally supposed to be sent to backers as early as April 2016. Months passed, and no hoops were shipped. Electric Forest 2016 was a big deal for many backers as Clark promised those attending would be able to pick up their hoops in person. Nearing the event, problems surfaced causing the hoops not to be ready, but he assured backers he would have tubing delivered to the festival and he would be making the hoops there for backers to play with. The tubing was delivered but ended up being wrong. No backers were sent home with their Prodigy smart hoops. Only one update was given to the admins during his time at this festival, and not one word was heard from him a week after as he was sick with what’s assumed to be ‘festival flu.’ After this, most of the refunds started being requested.
“If at ANY moment you are unhappy with the decision, or decide you are not comfortable with backing the Kickstarter, I will not hesitate to refund you 100% of your pledge at any time prior to shipping,”
Jon stated this on April 21, 2016, in the backers Facebook group. He used this excuse whenever someone claimed his project a scam. Since the creation of this project, many have requested refunds though few have received theirs.
There is a reason no refunds have been sent out in months, the money Jon has claimed to lost this August, which I will explain later in this article, has been gone since at least July 2016. This has been made clear to me from someone given the task of administering refunds. This person realized refunds were not going through despite the Prodigy PayPal account being linked to the business bank account.
Jon then had an undisclosed associate administering refunds from there. Jon was reminded the unprofessionalism in having a random person dealing with backer’s personal information. He stated this associate owed him money and rather than paying Jon directly he had this associate send the owed money to the Prodigy PayPal and on to the backers from there.
Still, many backers have sent multiple requests for refunds and given no correspondence.
As previously mentioned, one of Jon’s admins was given more responsibility, having access to his bank accounts, PayPal accounts and everything they would need to assist him as his admin. This person was promised payment for the work done, yet anytime payment was discussed Jon changed the subject often and they never truly decided on what payment would be. Confronting him after realizing there wasn’t money in the accounts for refunds to go out, this person sent multiple invoices to Jon for the money he owed her for her time. He sent a rather defensive response stating his reason for not sending her payment.
“You believe [not paying the invoice] is simply a matter of me not feeling like doing it, opposed to me deciding not to throw out $500 for something in a time frame that was never discussed or planned for when its most important for me to make sure I can keep things sustained until we begin selling public”, “I did not refute the fact that you had helped a ton, and the amount you were asking for was not unjustified and fair. I also agreed I would pay you for the amount you asked for but discussed that right now I needed to be very tight on funds until we started selling publicly”.
There is a similar situation with his electrical engineer who was paid for only a month of his time. However, Clark still owes him a significant amount of money. He stated that only 100 controller boards were ever ordered.
At one point Jon was prepared to start shipping, he sent out three tracking numbers for delivery. All other backers were promised information on their shipping soon. The first two backers never received their hoops despite the given tracking number. They were claimed to be lost in the mail system. The third backer requested a personal engraving longer than the allotted character space, so he tested it to see if it fit. It did, and Jon sent the hoop to her. He admitted to the admins that she was not going to be happy with the hoop as it had problems, and it did. She stated it was beautiful and the brightest thing she’s ever seen, however there was connection issues and the remote didn’t work. Whenever spinning the hoop, it would open up, and the batteries would fly out. The remote didn’t work like it should as most of the buttons didn’t do anything. Jon appeased by telling her she’d receive a completed hoop as well as the broken one she’s received. Many of the other backers directed their anger to her as she was more available than Jon.
I’d like to note that not only has Jon accepted money through the Kickstarter program but the personal property of others. On February 26, 2016, Jon asked his backers for their broken or unused smart hoops to compare to his creation. He offered trade-in-value and/or a higher shipping spot once the hoops were complete. Most that I spoke to revealed they had no correspondence after sending their hoops and poi to him.
One of the last claims, yet surely not only, I have against Jon and his word towards us backers is regarding the remotes for these smart hoops. In July 2016, Jon claimed everything was back on track again, and the hoops would be shipped after he received remotes. After a week, he was questioned about the location of the remotes and Jon stated that they’d passed customs in Hong Kong, were traveling across the US and they should be arriving within the next week. After another week, it was found out by one of the admins that the remotes had not left Hong Kong; they had not even made it through customs. In fact, the remotes were ordered the day after Jon stated they’d be arriving within a week. I’ve decided to include this information for the backers to determine on their own the validity of his word.
Just as I was concluding this article, new information surfaced from Jon in the form of a video. August 18, 2017, was the first we’d heard from him since May 2017 with the exception of one of his admins updating us in July that he has moved. This video shocked and infuriated many of the people involved. Like the other updates, this forty minute video has a large amount of filler information, and many believed his words to be lies. Clark claimed that he was robbed by an associate who was also a drug addict. He stated that this associate made multiple withdrawals in the time span of 3 days while he was out sick. He cleared out what Jon says to be ‘thousands and thousands of dollars.’ (See above where he ran out of money for refunds in July 2016. He admitted to this admin in December 2016 that he couldn’t pay for work done per lack of funds.) Jon made a tough decision to not file charges, and he moved his associate into his home to help him get clean. He admitted in the video that it was not the smartest decision from a business stand point. Ultimately, his associate destroyed his shop and the work done during a relapse. He informs us that we are back on track again.
Prodigy went into a bad standing per the Kentucky Secretary of State website because he was unable to pay the $15 filing fee. He has not filed a change of address. Today, Prodigy Hoops, LLC has a bad standing and is pending dissolution. Jonathan Clark still has not released a timeline for the release of these hoops, nor an explanation as to why so many people have not received their requested refunds, even though submitted before the apparent stolen money from his associate. With this article, I ask that our voices be heard. That these backers are given the respect they have earned in the past two years of experience with this company. That Jonathan Clark releases a meaningful and true update of why all the information in this article has now surfaced.
If a creator is unable to complete their project and fulfill rewards, they’ve failed to live up to the basic obligations of this agreement. To right this, they must make every reasonable effort to find another way of bringing the project to the best possible conclusion for backers. A creator in this position has only remedied the situation and met their obligations to backers if:
- They post an update that explains what work has been done, how funds were used, and what prevents them from finishing the project as planned;
- They work diligently and in good faith to bring the project to the best possible conclusion in a timeframe that’s communicated to backers;
- They’re able to demonstrate that they’ve used funds appropriately and made every reasonable effort to complete the project as promised;
- They’ve been honest, and have made no material misrepresentations in their communication to backers; and
- they offer to return any remaining funds to backers who have not received their reward (in proportion to the amounts pledged), or else explain how those funds will be used to complete the project in some alternate form.
The creator is solely responsible for fulfilling the promises made in their project. If they’re unable to satisfy the terms of this agreement, they may be subject to legal action by backers.