Robot lawn mowers are the rage this year. We looked at Yarbo and Lawna (suspended due to potential scam). Today, we are checking out the Conga robot lawn mower at the request of one of our readers.
Discover a smarter, more innovative lawn mower with the Conga® Series, and get ready to complete all your lawn maintenance work in one click. Equipped with AI Vision Algorithms and Vision Fusion Localization (VFL) Technology, the Conga® series can automatically set the boundaries of your lawn, detect and avoid obstacles in just 0.1s without the perimeter cables or remote control.
Like the other robot lawn mowers campaign we’ve seen, the video and campaign images rely on 3D renders and After Effects to make the Conga robot lawn mower look cool.
Cobbs Douglas, the company behind Conga robot lawn mower, does not show the bottom view or actual blades of the robot lawn mower. However, you can check out the bottom of the product as well as an independent review of a unit by a Shenzhen-based reviewer Sami Luo.
Given how well-produced the video is, we will take the review with a pinch of salt. You don’t really get to see real-world usage of the product, only fancy footage with transitions that try to wow the viewer. We get that a prototype like this probably doesn’t work well and would require video editing techniques to make it look like a good product.
That said, it is the wrong mentality to have for a Kickstarter campaign. The creator should be creating trust through transparency and honesty. Show backers where you are in the process of bringing the product to life so you can get valuable feedback from users who might very well become your staunchest supporters and evangelists.
The Conga robot lawn mower campaign is created by Ning Li in Hong Kong under the company name Cobb Douglas Robot.
Banggusi Electronic Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd holds the Conga trademark for lawn mowers. Banggusi Electronic Technology also uses the alias Cobb Douglas Utility Limited for the trademark registration.
Cobb Douglas is a New Zealand company that provides AI, IoT, and machine learning solutions. This is the company that the campaign presents as the team behind the Conga robot lawn mower. Ian Chen Yanbin is the founder and CEO of Cobbs Douglas.
The team also states that Yuefan Chen is their principal consultant from their solutions partner (read: manufacturer), Bongos Robotics. We are pretty sure Bongos Robotics is the English name for Banggusi Electronic Technology, the holder of the Conga brand.
The Bongos company website is down as of the time of writing. The Conga brand website presents the company address as Sheffield Crescent, Burnside, Christchurch 8053, New Zealand. Interestingly, Conga did not apply for the trademark in New Zealand. However, we found an application for the Conga trademark in China under application ID 21104752.
Misrepresenting social proof
Crowdfunding campaigns like to claim that they were featured on prominent news and tech websites. However, we know how these are very often press release publications that are misrepresented as new features to try to create fake credibility of the campaign.
Cobbs Douglas claims that the Conga robot lawn mower is featured on many news sites, although most of them are just press release. We’ll check the four that they featured – Bloomberg, Digital Journal, MarketWatch, and Yahoo News.
The articles on Digital Journal, MarketWatch, and Yahoo News are reposts of the press release from Newsfile Corp. They are basically regurgitations of the press release from Cobbs Douglas. Is such an article considered a news feature? Definitely not.
We were unable to find the Bloomberg article. This means out of the four news feature that Conga claims to have, three are not features. So we decided to check out the other “features” that they mentioned.
Yahoo Finance is cited as another feature, but it is actually the Yahoo News article. Using two logos to try to make up numbers? Not cool.
The articles on KnowTechie, Benzinga, Techicy, Markets Herald, StreetInsider are all the same reposting of the press release.
These reposts are basically copy and pastes of the press release with no value to the credibility of the campaign. We’ll mark this down as a red flag.
Is it worth it?
There are many robot lawn mowers on Amazon. While some are rather expensive, there are the likes of Gardena Silent Minimo, MowRo, and Husqvarna Automower that are in the similar price range as Conga’s Kickstarter price.
Conga will retail at USD 2,000 after the Kickstarter campaign. The Kickstarter price of USD 799 is a steal, but it sounds too good to be true. Either this is a scam, or the actual retail price will never go up to USD 2,000. In the latter scenario, we know the trick is to mark the “retail price” as US 2,000 but the product is perpetually on discount, so it’s actual retail price would be closer USD 799 than USD 2,000.
Is it a scam?
Given that there are have been robot land mower scams before, such as Lawna, we are wary of yet another scam for this type of product.
Cobbs Douglas seem to be trying to show that Conga robot lawn mower is a legit campaign. However, they raise several red flags.
1. They are not transparent with the company behind the campaign.
Sure, they mentioned in the comments about Bongo Robotics and link to their directors’ LinkedIn profiles. However, they are doing it in the comments. They did not present it on the campaign page for full transparency with all backers. They are only replying to backers who raised this issues in the comments to try to appease them.
2. They did not present the team on the campaign page.
They link to the directors’ LinkedIn profile in the comments. So, why not post the profile on the Kickstarter campaign page itself?
Information posted on the Kickstarter campaign will remain there when the campaign ends and become a permanent display of the information. This means a high degree of commitment and responsibility, on top of visibility to backers. People are less likely to dig through comments to look for the information.
3. They falsely claim to be featured by news.
Maybe they really believed that having their press released published word for word counts as a news feature. Either they are too naive or they believe the backers to be.
This is done pretty often on Kickstarter, and we often see campaigns run by Longham trying to trick backers this way. We’ve already mentioned before about how dubious Longham is, given that they have very bad Trustpilot score.
We can’t come to a clear conclusion, but we have concerns that the creators have been made known of and seem reluctant or event adamant not to address. Our advice is to proceed with caution.
If you’ve backed the campaign, there are still a few days left to reconsider before the campaign ends.
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