Earlier this month, two entrepreneurs from Ottawa, Canada launched a crowdfunding campaign for the "frank." phone. The main premise was that smartphones are too expensive, and there needs to be a phone priced competitively that does everything you need it to. The project had a very edgy tone, using phrases like, "It’s just another fucking phone but it’ll only cost you $180," and, "It’s about time to disrupt the shit out of the North American smartphone industry."

Unfortunately for the Frank team (and anyone who wanted the phone), Indiegogo has now suspended the project's crowdfunding campaign and automatically refunded all contributions. The page now has this message at the top:

This campaign has been closed by Trust and Safety due to a violation of our Terms of Use. The campaign will no longer be accepting contributions, and the Campaign Owners no longer have access to the campaign.

If you read our previous post about the Frank phone, you'll know that it was based on an existing OEM design sold on Alibaba. The message doesn't state what part of Indiegogo's Terms of Use the project violates, but leaving out any mention of using an existing reference design may have been the problem. The project's page might lead you to believe it was entirely developed in-house, with images of whiteboards and sketches of the phone's design. The project's About page even stated, "After many design variations, models, prototypes, and a few fights with the whiteboard, he [one of the entrepreneurs] was able to strike a good balance between build quality and design quality."

The team behind Frank. phone responded to our initial post by saying the development process was more complicated than simply picking an existing device. "We’re working with the mould, making customization and improvements, such as the upgrade to the front camera and the upgrade to Android 7.0, and introducing it to the North American market," the team said in their response. But seemingly no changes were made to the crowdfunding page or project site.

The campaign was unlikely to reach its goal regardless. While the funding meter on Indiegogo has been reset to $0, the Frank Twitter account stated it was at 23% on September 8. The first few days are crucial to any funding campaign, as news coverage often doesn't extend pass that timeframe. Despite plenty of positive press in the first few days, it never got the acceleration required to pass its $250,000 fixed goal.

We've reached out to the Frank phone project for comment, and we will update this post if/when they respond.

The Frank team sent out this email to some backers and followers earlier today:

Dear friends,

How did we get here?

Many of you messaged us over the past 24-hours in shock of receiving a refund from frank.'s Indiegogo campaign. We were also shocked to hear about the suspension of our Indiegogo account. We weren't expecting it.

Let’s be frank: our team made a mistake in our choice of language and design presentation, leading to misconceptions and serious consequences that we tried to rectify by cleaning up our campaign and in interviews with the media. But we didn’t do enough.

Though our experience with Indiegogo started out on a positive foot with Indiegogo “poaching” us from Kickstarter, using promises of free promotions and expert consultation, it ended with our campaign being abruptly discontinued without fair notice. We are currently in conversations with our legal counsel regarding Indiegogo’s claims, process, and damages.

We’re so sorry to our fans that have shown nothing but support since the beginning.

But Little Guys don’t give up. They punch above their weight.

What’s next for frank.?

In spite of this setback, we plan to push forward. Our mission is to introduce affordable smartphone technology to Canadians and Americans who no longer want to fork up thousands of dollars on a device.

And we're going to fulfill our commitment because we. are. NOT. backing. down.

The Big Guys can’t bully us.

Throughout this journey, we've learned a tremendous amount and have found ways to better our process and lower our costs. We continued to seek out new manufacturers and test alternate moulds and OEMs with the aim of reducing costs and increasing savings.

Indiegogo may not have worked out but we aim to move forward with our commitment to getting you our product at cost-savings and in a shorter time period. Please bear with us as we work out the kinks and formulate our next steps. We'll give you an update with details as soon as possible.

We’ve requested our list of backers from Indiegogo in order to properly thank them but we’ve yet to hear back from Indiegogo. Backer or not, please fill out this form in order to ensure you receive a discount when our product goes live through an online store.

So, in the craziest of ways, thank you to the online community who tore our project apart; you simply supplied us with constructive criticism, an enormous amount of research, and an opportunity to help us help our Frankensteins.

Stay tuned as we finalize the details.  Everything will be available on our website.

Thank you in advance for your patience throughout this whole roller-coaster of a journey.

Your frank. team
Mo
Fahd
Sara