Truebuds - Beware of Kickstarter Scams!

May 08, 2017

Truly wireless earbuds was new product category that was trending in 2015, mass produced in 2016 and now widely available in 2017 from major manufacturers like Samsung and Apple. In the early days, many new companies wanted to jump onto the bandwagon. Names previously unheard of like Erato, Bragi and Earin suddenly emerged to great fanfare and established themselves further by launching second generation truly wireless buds.
Credit -

What is kinda swept under the carpet are the 'brands' that made a ton of money from Kickstarter and shockingly never delivered anything. Yes, you heard that right. One company actually got more than a few backers from crowdfunding platforms and gave absolutely zilch back. So much for commitment.

Truebuds - The Promise
Truebuds's tagline was to deliver the world's smallest stereo cordless earbuds. In terms of specs, this was pretty much on par with the other true wireless earbud projects already launched on Kickstarter such as Bragi, Earin and Erato
From Kickstarter - Truebuds page

Everything looked pretty legit. They showcased their team, the design process, design mockups and their founder, Eric Tsoi, was supposedly interviewed by Digital Trends. It was quite hard to believe that anything was going to go wrong. 
From Kickstarter - Truebuds page

After all, other true wireless earbud companies were working to make it a reality and the Truebuds 'team' was actually clearly illustrating how they were coming up with the product from concept to reality. As a disclaimer, there's actually a link called 'Learn about accountability on Kickstarter', appended to every Kickstarter project page.

So What Happened?
Truebuds sent a crowdfunding request to Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
From Kickstarter - Truebuds page

On Kickstarter, they managed to get close to 3,000 backers contributing USD 411K while on the Indiegogo platform, they received USD 517K. All in all, that amounts to an approximate staggering amount of USD 1 million.
From Indiegogo - Truebuds page

And then the actual reality started to sink in.

The signs that something was amiss were the excuses that they couldn't deliver on time due to a few reasons. Their website ( started giving a 404 page leading nowhere. Their Facebook posts started churning out generic music industry news updates. Needless to say, there were a lot of comments from irate customers asking what happened to their orders. The founder did not answer to replies despite asking folks to reach out to him. The final straw came on July 6, 2016 when they put out their last post and that's it...there was no communications beyond that.
From Facebook - Truebuds page

What Now?
Needless to say, the customers who bought into this were probably seething and rightfully so. John Joseph from NY started a petition around 5 months ago for the 'prompt return of crowdfunding proceeds to Kickstarter and Indiegogo backers'.

On May 4, 2017, an update said that the State of California Department of Justice was 'taking this matter seriously' and acknowledge that the formal documentation of the complaint was received.


Lessons To Learn?
Some takeaways from this episode - 

1. Do Background Checks
Scams operate in all ways. Some are very straightforward. You can research them and the signs are telling when you check their web presence. Others like Truebuds are actually pretty elaborate. They took the pains to show you the creative process and who's in charge of what and even got a reputable media company for an interview. And yet they did not deliver. It does pay to make cursory background checks on any new company / business entity. If in doubt, check online, pick up the phone and make some calls.

2. Scams Can Operate Anywhere 
The Truebuds scam is one that affected anyone who knew of the major crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. This means that its reach was worldwide. Online scams are a dime a dozen and they come through all means. I can even share that bloggers are not spared either. A company called Goodstuff.SG attempted to get online ambassadors to spread the word of its website. Well, this same website shut down within a month. Talk about being unscrupulous.

3. Just Because Everyone Jumps In Doesn't Mean It's Legit
With so many folks throwing their money to the project, does that offer some form of safeguard? Absolutely not. It does of course drop your guard and think that since others are in, hey, why not jump into it? They have 7,000+ Facebook likes. Does it mean anything? On hindsight, probably not. 

The Truebuds story presents an interesting but sad episode. Hopefully, the folks who invested in it will either lay this to rest or move on. If you are one who's impacted, do not be dismayed as there are and will be black hats everywhere in the world. Whether you get the justice or the money back, we hope you will eventually get closure on this matter. All the best to you folks.

Petition - Please tell TrueBuds to return the $1m they stole from us on Kickstarter and Indiegogo!
Truebuds Facebook page
Kickstarter page
Indiegogo page
Eric Tsoi's Linkedin page

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  1. This wasn't a scam. It was an overambitious group of dudes who are too proud to be honest and admit failure.

    1. If it was the case (and it very well may be), there should at least be sustained communications to backers who put in the money to invest. Don't think it makes sense to go into hiding and pretend nothing happened.

  2. I'm seeing these Truebuds being sold online now under the brand name Gabba Goods. has them for $29. I'd be interested to learn what has happened with this story since you posted it.

    1. Apart from the product name, there's no evidence to suggest a direct correlation between the GabbaGoods version and the one sold on Kickstarter. Just do some background checks and you'll see that the marketing done for each is worlds apart.

  3. Good article. Everything mentioned is accuate based on my past observations. Think it was a case of a failed business. What’s worse is their deafening silence. Or lack of faith in their judicial system. Or both.

    I had contributed about SGD$350 to this project those many years ago. Today, I could get AirPods or better for the same price. I learnt it the hard way.

    It’s simple to avoid my disposition - don’t do crowdfunding. Instead, support legitimate businesses with products ready for sale. Case in point, I will “show em’ the money” when I “see it to believe it”. Old but gold.

  4. I filed a complaint with the FTC against Eric Tsoi, he ripped people off to the tune of over $900,000


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