Judie at Gear Diary tipped me off Wednesday to the story of weeSteady, a mini-steadycam accessory for cameras and phones that was rejected by Kickstarter. Jack Campbell, the entrepreneur behind weeSteady and parent company weeGadgets, told Gear Diary via email that Kickstarter had declined to list his crowdfunding campaign because of the recent massive success of another hardware project on the site.

“Apparently, because of enormous backlash (fears) created by the huge $10 million Pebble watch campaign, Kickstarter has at least for now stopped approving pure hardware products for funding projects,” Campbell wrote. “There has been a wave of fast-growing online chatter raising [a] question of safety with these huge hardware projects that promise a product, collect a big amount of cash, and then have a tiny band of inexperienced dreamers left to actually bring the promised product to quality mass production.”

Pebble, an e-paper smartwatch compatible with Android and iOS devices, sought to raise $100,000 via Kickstarter but quickly caught fire, racking up more than 100 times that amount largely through pre-orders of its gadget. The team stopped offering pre-orders shortly before the campaign closed, wanting to make sure they could produce enough devices to meet all pre-paid demand. (Full disclosure: I backed Pebble with a very small contribution, as I thought it a cool project but wasn’t interested in actually buying one.)

At least a few other Kickstarter-funded hardware projects have experienced production delays that have led to grumpy customers waiting for their products. For instance, the comments section for Elevation Dock - an iPhone dock campaign that raised more than $1 Million – is rife with annoyed funders who’ve seen the April 2012 estimated ship date come and go with nary a dock in sight. Kickstarter currently offers no formal refund mechanism for consumer backers of a campaign; once a successful campaign closes, backers’ money is collected via Amazon Payments and given in one lump sum to the fundraisers. Minus percentage cuts for Kickstarter and Amazon Payments, naturally.

According to Gear Diary, Campbell says Kickstarter fears negative publicity and possible longterm investor-related effects from hardware campaigns gone sour. “A staffer I know within KS told me that [it has] really caused a concern about the PR image within KS management, and has chilled their willingness to flood KS with more and more hardware products,” he wrote. “I understand it’s in heavy discussion, seeking a decision.”

The company’s current model of taking a 5% cut from all successful campaigns is no doubt keeping Kickstarter afloat, especially given the eight figure success of Pebble. But given the coming enactment of the JOBS Act, which will make equity-based crowdfunding legal in the United States, the KS team no doubt has their sites set higher when it comes to disrupting – if not entirely reinventing – the way “creative” enterprises raise money. No doubt, as well, a number of big time venture capital firms have their eyes glued to the world’s #1 crowdfunding site to see if parnterships and spin-offs might be in their future.

Kickstarter declined to comment on the matter to Gear Diary beyond pointing Judie to its current hardware project campaigns. Indeed, as of writing this I counted at least 20 active campaigns in the Open Hardware category. I’ve heard grumblings from multiple sources about Kickstarter’s “Apple-esque approval policies,” with folks complaining that the Brooklyn, NY based startup rejected their campaigns without giving constructive feedback or concrete reasons for the turn-downs. But we all know what happens when you’re hot. When you’re hot, everyone wants a piece of you and you reserve the right to say No. For any and all reasons you choose, with or without explanation. Kickstarter is a private company whose terms of use are clearly posted on their site. So buyer, backer, and entrepreneurs all should take heed.

Me, I just paid $37 bucks for some premium underwear via Flint and Tinder’s Kickstarter campaign. The guys behind the drawers just sent me a survey asking for my style and color preferences (that’s personal, thanks), so I’m fully expecting some soft, soft, unmentionables to arrive within the next month or so: Flint and Tinder lists “June 2012″ as their estimated delivery date for the three pack I’m due.

What about you? Ever pledge money to a Kickstarter project? If so, was it hardware – and did you actually get your gadget? Tell your story in the comments.

Source: Gear Diary