Rotten Apple Pops Kickstarter-funded Portable Power Station from Edison Junior's Bubble

By Peter Bernstein December 20, 2012

If you have read the biography of Steve Jobs you know he was a big fan of the Beatles, particularly John Lennon who after the group dissolved had a big hit single with a song (and album with the same name, “Power to the People.” Thus, one would trust that Jobs might have a little bit of heartburn from the fact that it was none other than Apple that literally popped the bubble of Edison Junior, the technology product design laboratory behind the Kickstarter-crowdfunded Portable Power station POP. This as Lennon would have noted is bad karma in action.

TMC CEO Rich Tehrani has wrote a lengthy blog about how tech start-up superstar Jamie Siminoff got his brainchild funded to the tune of $139,170 using crowd-sourced funding champ Kickstarter which became a product realized quickly in the form of the POP portable power station. 

Rich called POP “a winner.” Yes it is, and now was, for obvious reasons. He correctly stated that we all need a portable universal charger that is capable of charging multiple devices. Let’s face it; the bane of our electronic existence is worrying about running out of battery. In fact, we all have experienced the no battery or nearby outlet experience more than once. There are few bigger aggravations than having no juice in the middle of creating a critical presentation, being unable to send or receive vital e-mail, or in an emergency being unable to make a call.   

Well a not so funny thing happened on the way to user relief being in sight. Because of Apple it will not be in hand. 


Rather than paraphrase it, below is the letter Siminoff sent to backers that Jand posted to the POP Kickstarter page.

Letter to backers of POP from Jamie Siminoff, CEO of Edison Junior

To all of our loyal backers–

I’ll never forget the moment when our campaign passed the $50,000 goal and our dream of powering dying batteries became tangible.  Our promise was simple: provide a portable charger that was capable of charging ALL of your devices including the anticipated iPhone 5, which at the time, had yet to be released.

When Apple officially announced the move to Lightning we determined the best course of action was to incorporate two Lightning chargers, and two 30-pins (along with the four micro-USB’s).  After applying to Apple (which is now required for Lightning), we learned that they are no longer willing to approve a product that uses the Lightning charger alongside any other charger (including their own 30-pin – seriously).  Just like that, POP could no longer fulfill its true promise.

As we struggled with Apple we realized that Kickstarter did not have a mechanism for refunding everyone their money.  Since we are not willing to compromise and build a crappy product, refunding the money is the only acceptable thing to do.

This sparked the idea that crowdfunding of physical products needed a place that was built around the intricacies they present, so a few weeks ago we launched our own crowdfunding site, Christie Street.  Built from the ground up around product, Christie Street is designed to handle needs that can arise from products – such as refunds – in order to prevent compromised products from being delivered.

In order to process your refunds efficiently we are going to set you all up with Christie Street accounts, and there, you will be able to process your refunds.  Since payment processing has little to no room for error, we still have some final testing to do before we can send out the instructions, so the plan is set for mid-January.  Conversely, had we manually sent out the refunds to all 1,000 backers the process would probably have gone longer.

Providing full refunds means we will have to absorb a hit for both credit card (three percent) and Kickstarter fees ( five percent) totaling over $11,000.  Today we asked Kickstarter for the 5% fee they collected based on the circumstances, however regardless of their decision YOU WILL RECEIVE 100 percent OF YOUR MONEY BACK.

We don’t believe in selling a substandard, compromised product that only satisfies the needs of a few backers, as that was not our promise.  So we can’t thank you enough for your incredible support and awesome feedback – we hope to collaborate again with you soon.  If you have any issues please email me directly.

All the best,

P.S. If you know anyone at Apple please send them coal for their stockings, on behalf of us :)

Power to the People?

The fact of the matter for all of us who have owned laptops, early cell phones and now smartphones and tablets it that there are days when it seems the manufacturers’ hook into all of us is not even those nice ecosystems built around iOS and Android but rather the one built around power chords and power supplies. Why is it, for example, that every time I have changed phones I need a new power source that plugs into the wall, one for the car and now at least the one that does sync and allows me to charge my phone from my laptop also plugs into the wall? These things are expensive to purchase, and likely carry hefty margins. 

For all of you Apple users, there is no need to expound on this issue since you know all about Apple power.  In fact, someone might wish to rework the iconic fist (see below) that grew out of the protests of the 1960s and has been adopted by various groups of all political persuasions since, and rework it to send all of the manufacturers a message.

I would have liked to have had a POP. Right now to mitigate against my smartphone going comatose at the wrong time, I have a PowerStick and a pocket full of connectors. Problem is, it takes a while to charge and gives you just enough time to get your business done and find an outlet. It will not charge your laptop.

If there is a silver lining in this story, it is that as one might expect from such a creative mind, Jamie Siminoff has figured out a way to make lemonade out of lemons. He has identified a real need, i.e., getting people refunds on investments made from crowdsourced sites. Christie Street is surely needed but lets hope not too often and that the Edison Junior refund ends up holding the refund record for a long time.

 Too bad for all of us that Apple would not let him make Apple Juice.  

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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