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What Happened To Benjamin James? - How Short Term Sacrifice Became The Foundation Of An Incredible Brand

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‘Scams, Scams everywhere’Is what I think when I scroll around on the Kickstarter website. Amongst the sea of graphic novels and tech products nobody asked for are nefarious characters inventing projects that they never intend on delivering. It’s a shame really.

‘Scams, Scams everywhere’
Is what I think when I scroll around on the Kickstarter website. Amongst the sea of graphic novels and tech products nobody asked for are nefarious characters inventing projects that they never intend on delivering. It’s a shame really.
What started as a ‘public benefit corporation’ and platform to help fund creative projects in 2009, Kickstarter has built itself quite the reputation over the years. Look through the comments on social media and it’s clear to see they have a problem. Almost a fifth of all money raised on the platform go’s to scams for gods sake.

The Benjamin James Scarifour

I don’t like those odds. Imagine you go to the supermarket to buy some bread and one of the five loafs on the shelf is made from cardboard. Better pick the right one or little billy wont be getting his PB&J.
In saying that, there has been some incredible successes on the platform too. Take Furlan Marri for example, their unique take on vintage Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantine design has propelled them onto the scene like nothing else. Then we have Studio Underdog, selling out in minutes every time they do a drop. Bonkers.

There are some legitimately impressive projects on kickstarter, but unfortunately these are the exception. Most people are just out to make a quick buck, with no intention of making something truly unique and interesting. There’s a million and one watch brands launching on kickstarter and very few of them are worth looking at.
Very few, but not none.

The Benjamin James Scarifour

A few months ago I wrote an article about a watch brand on kickstarter that I thought was a winner. They had a solid concept, great family history and the watches looked awesome. Happy days.
Unfortunately things didn't go to plan, but the outcome isn’t one you might expect.

What Happened with Benjamin James

After reaching his funding goal in just ten minutes, Ben, the founder Benjamin James canceled his campaign and gave all of his backers their money back.
From the outside, this was a strange decision and one that raised some eyebrows from the watch community. Yet another kickstarter cancelled.
Reddit subsequently blew up with comments and theories as to why this has happened.
Some of my favourites…

Yes. Stay far far away from Kickstarter. It sucks too because there are legit people out there who want to use Kickstarter the right way but too many issues like this.
Arguably a very effective way to gauge consumer interest - can now build the proto and come back. But it’s a bit slimy if so.
Saw this as well and was somewhat disappointed to say the least. Not sure if I’ll jump back in moving forward.
Seems fishy…

I especially liked that last one.
I understand peoples concerns, it’s hard not to be spooked when you’re already worried about a platform synonymous with people taking advantage. That’s not the end of the story though. The Following was Posted on kickstarter by Ben on Oct 1, 2023

Hi everyone, thank you so much for all the support so far on the project. Many of you might be surprised to see I have cancelled the funding of the project. I have been receiving a good amount of feedback that people are worried that we haven't shown full working prototypes in the Kickstarter campaign.
I don't want there to be any element of doubt in peoples minds as to my intentions with this project, so I have decided to cancel the project and will relaunch the brand again when I am able to show a full working prototype which I am working on now with the manufacturer.
Truly again thank you all so much for the support, I massively appreciate your trust and without all of you we wouldn't have got this far. We will be back. If anyone has any further questions you can always feel free to reach out.

Thanks so much, Ben.

Ben and his prototype Benjamin James Scarifour

Instead of ignoring the concerned few and pushing ahead with the launch without a working prototype. Ben chose to listen to his customers and go back to the drawing board. A lesser man would have taken the money and gone ahead. I’m glad he didn’t.
Trust is always more important than money.
When building a brand at least. Your reputation is all you really have and to damage it this early on could have been fatal. Instead, the opposite has happened.
As the below commenter mentions,

Back today and up to 86 backers in under an hour. Looks like the only issue was him not having a prototype in hand to send around. That happened and looks like he's got some goodwill already surrounding his name and relaunch.

I think this guy nailed it. Instead of digging his heels in, Ben stripped everything back and started again. Giving people the opportunity to pull their support and being honest about the situation has made people trust in him more. He took a bad situation and used it to shape his reputation.
Money comes and go’s, people’s perception of you doesn’t.

The Benjamin James Scarifour

What Happens To Benjamin James Now?

After reaching his funding goal for the second time. Ben is well on his way to shipping watches. This time to backers that are as invested as ever.
Looking beyond Kickstarter and into the realm of big boy brands, I see Ben and his Scarifour building on his foundation of trust. I think a lot about longevity these days, since becoming a father five years ago. I try to do things with a long term result in mind. In an age where everyone wants things fast and patience is rare, it’s great to see someone taking their time and focusing on the long term play.

The Benjamin James Scarifour

In a sea of micro brands and kickstarter scams, it’s also refreshing to see someone doing the right thing by their customers. Benjamin James cares. About his brand, about his watches and most importantly about you.

I admire Ben for having the guts to pull the pin.

Well done mate.

Cya in the next one.

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