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Grasshopper / Zenpen Concerns and Considerations

Discussion in 'The Vapor Lounge' started by vtac, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. vtac

    vtac vapor junkie Staff Member

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    After having been contacted by some concerned fc members I felt obligated to share this information with the community.

    To start off there's little doubt that trevorvapor on reddit is Trevor Vita, founder of the Zenpen vaporizer project, now renamed to Grasshopper. The argument could be made that his first three comments there(bottom of the page) are written as if coming from a random reddit user interested in the product. In the most questionable of the three he asks "Are those the final colors?" in response to a conceptual video of the product. After that he switches gears and starts answering questions as a founder of the project.

    Why would someone in that position create a reddit account, do a little astroturfing and then shift into founder mode using the same account? If one was to play devil's advocate they might say that he:
    • Didn't understand how reddit worked and that comments have permalinks which can be filtered by account
    • Had been using sock puppet accounts to astroturf and accidentally made three shill posts under his personal account
    • Forgot that he had made the first three comments with the account (June 27th and 28th) before deciding to answer questions as the founder on August 9th.
    On August 19th, a new member on fc with the username SpaceCow made two back-to-back posts (now merged) expressing enthusiastic interest in the product. As an intrepid member of our staff would later find, these posts were made from the same IP used by Zenpen.

    I had heard some positive comments about the people behind the project from a friend in the know, so I gave Zenpen the benefit of the doubt and asked him about this collusion. I was told that it was his little brother who must have made an account and commented. It seemed unlikely to me, but again I gave him the benefit of the doubt. It turns out that I had foolishly mistaken the Zenpen for another conceptual vaporizer seeking crowdfunding, which meant that the endorsement from my friend was misplaced.

    On November 16th, there were allegations of more astroturfing.

    There have been a lot of questions surrounding the Zenpen/Grasshopper.

    As a relatively astute, but entirely average looking fc staff member put it:
    Their business model has also been called into question:
    Am I posting this to hurt their project? Absolutely not. As a long time vapor enthusiast I revel in the emergence of innovative new vaporizers. However, over the years, the enthusiast community has seen more than a few new vaporizer companies promising the world and failing to deliver. We've also seen far too many companies deceiving the public with astroturfing campaigns and shill posters.

    An important distinction here is that the people behind the Grasshopper have taken $176,452 (and counting) from excited vaporists without having demonstrated a convincing proof of concept. My allegiance lies with the consumer and I'm posting this with their best interests in mind. I sincerely hope that these are indeed misunderstandings, and not opportunistic entrepreneurs aiming to cash and run on a ripe new market. I hope that these newcomers truly have broken incredible new ground in portable vaporizer technology. But, as always, buyer beware.

    --

    I'm going to leave this thread unlocked so that any discussion doesn't derail the Grasshopper thread. Let's be clear that this is not a place to bash the product or company. If you don't have something constructive to add in a civil manner, please don't reply. Please do not make accusations unless you have evidence beyond what was just posted.
     
  2. stickstones

    stickstones Wasted Staff Member

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    for the dummies like me, what is astroturfing?
     
  3. vtac

    vtac vapor junkie Staff Member

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    In other words, shill posting, sockpuppeting.
     
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  4. Bob Loblaw

    Bob Loblaw Astralnaut

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    thanks for bringing this to our attention
     
  5. darkrom

    darkrom Great Scott!

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    Also worth noting is in one of his first videos he pretends to be called something else, Chris I believe?

    There is an awful lot of shadiness for a company insisting they are on the up and up.
     
  6. Fenton Mewley

    Fenton Mewley A man in search of cloudier pastures

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    Great post! Very interesting...

    But to be fair to GH about PV's questioning of business tactics, GH has said that the price of units will go up past $99 retail. To what price? We have no clue, but if retailers contacted GH, they might be willing to give them a rough estimate of what the retail price would be.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the retail price after the campaign is 40-50% more.
     
  7. vtac

    vtac vapor junkie Staff Member

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    That's a good point. If the product truly does what they claim it could retail for 10 times that. After all it would be providing a combination of features and performance that no existing portable can begin to match - It would truly have no competition. What portable vaporizers, especially in this size category (and made out of metal) don't get hot to the touch? What portable can provide performance on par with a desktop vape such as the V-Tower, or 3-6 hours of battery power?

    I admit that this is sort of besides the point, and this isn't the first upcoming portable to make incredible claims. When it's combined with some seriously underhanded marketing for the purpose of raising money, that's when I think a red flag needs to be waved. :2c:
     
  8. t-dub

    t-dub Vapor Sloth

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    This is a great thread and really articulates my thoughts on this thing. I don't care what kind of insulation they have developed, eventually, heat will creep through it over time. All they can do is delay it. The first video hit looked like combustion to me, especially when he coughed it out. My comment on the second video about the trophy bass stealing a worm off a hook was my sarcastic way of pointing out how "unnatural" the method used seemed. That may have been a mouthful of vapor that came out but I have seen Vitolo hit the MFLB through his nose, a vape I never could even use. So that one little mouthful of vapor?/smoke? does not impress me much. These guys are fresh out of school and might have some big dreams and "think" they know something new that will change the game. Time will tell . . .
     
  9. Roger D

    Roger D Vapor Wizard

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    Even in theory, even if the energy available in the tiny battery was spent without any heat loss, it seems mathematically impossible to me to obtain something performing like a desktop unit, or even allowing 3 hours of autonomy (or even "days"), when you shrink down size to something that small. That's it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
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  10. PapaSmurf6768

    PapaSmurf6768 New Member

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    I know this is my first post, but I've been lurking these forums a long time and I felt like I needed to register in order to say this: we can speculate all we want, but bashing the product doesn't help anyone. It's $99. I, and the thousands of other people who have backed it, really do realize that we're taking a risk, and GH is making some bold claims. We're not stupid. But it's not like I am investing my entire life savings into a product that may or may not be successful. Worse comes to worse, I end up with $99 less in my bank account and a couple bucks worth of scrap metal.

    But to be arguing about the claims they're making whether they are true or not I think is a waste of time. Wait for February, see how people like their Grasshoppers, and make the decision then. No one is forcing you to buy one, it is your decision to take that risk or not. I, for one, am stoked about this thing coming to market, but realize it could be a waste of time and money, and maybe I'm getting my hopes up for nothing. I realize this, and the stupid people who don't are going to get butthurt, but that is their problem. Again, it's a funding campaign for a new project, not a mandatory investment. That is all.

    If you guys agree or disagree, let me know, I'm up for some civilized conversation. But all of this conjecture in this thread and the official one is really starting to get annoying.
     
  11. Roger D

    Roger D Vapor Wizard

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    What a first post. Could you introduce yourself ? I can't relate to what you say, seems like you come from another galaxy when you can throw hundreds in something that may be pointless.
     
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  12. lwien

    lwien Well-Known Member

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    For some, 100 dollars is a LOT of money. Never used to be for me. Hell, at one time, I was wealthy enough that I didn't have to look at the price tags to figure if I wanted to purchase something or not, but today, things are a bit different and 100 dollars could stretch me over my budget living expenses and I would imagine that there are many others in the same boat as I, so please don't assume that a 100 loss is meaningless to everyone else just because it is meaningless to you.
     
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  13. t-dub

    t-dub Vapor Sloth

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    This thread was created for the purpose of having the discussion, not argument, that you say is a waste of time. If we wish to discuss the torturing of the laws of physics by GH's claims, we may do so within the rules here. Calling others stupid is not a good way to start, sorry you are annoyed.
     
  14. PapaSmurf6768

    PapaSmurf6768 New Member

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    Sorry for the rant guys, I know this thread was meant for discussion. I didn't mean to offend anyone on the money standpoint, what I meant was if you don't have the $99 to spare (which I realize a lot of people don't), you don't have to buy a GH. I guess all there is left to say is that no one has any new information until GH themselves says something, or the product actually releases. All the hype is leading to an equal amount of conjecture, which I guess is just a natural thing.
     
  15. vtac

    vtac vapor junkie Staff Member

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    Who is bashing the the product? Did you read the last paragraph in the OP?

    I'd wager that many of the people who backed it don't have much experience with pen style vapes. I'm also reasonably sure that most of them aren't aware of the things mentioned in the OP.

    If you bought every new portable vape that promised it all and turned out to be a dud you'd be out $1000s. Personally I'd rather avoid throwing away any money. Again, this thread is not claiming that the Grasshopper is a dud - it doesn't exist yet. I think that some of the concerns raised here have merit, and this is a vaporizer discussion forum after all. :)
     
  16. PapaSmurf6768

    PapaSmurf6768 New Member

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    Agreed, these are legitimate concerns. I agree with what you and everyone else is saying, maybe I just didn't phrase it as articulately as I wanted to.
     
  17. max

    max Bingo Coordinator Staff Member

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    I don't know what you've learned about the current state of vaporizing technology, but some here know quite a bit. You don't even have to be technically savy to know what the limitations are for a small portable in the way of hit size, battery life, and excess heat. When someone claims to have come up with a product that's head and shoulders above the rest in all these areas, for a really low price, the 'too good to be true' warning should go off. If you're willing to risk $100, nobody should be saying you're nuts, but there's nothing wrong with being skeptical when a company says they have the best ever portable technology and you can get it for peanuts. If the GH were a car, it would be getting econobox/hybrid mileage, go from 0-60 in 3 sec., and cost under 10k. If a new car company advertised such a vehicle, the response would be 'BS. Prove it'.
     
  18. darkrom

    darkrom Great Scott!

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    My big concern actually goes beyond the grasshopper itself. My concern is that there are a LOT of pen vapes out there claiming they can vape herb, but none do. Well the cera, but again I mean pen form factor, not jumbo sharpie.

    This is going 100% unchecked. Its gotten so bad that Snoop Dogg personally replied to a comment I made and insisted his vape was different and better. Still an electric smoker. I'm so sick of the false advertising. Do you know how many people could be turned off of vaping from electric smokers calling themselves vapes? I haven't smoked in years, and I'd rather hit a blunt than COMBUST out of a pen.

    I want this vape to succeed for so many reasons, but I don't truly believe that it will. I get that they don't OWE us proof of anything, but at the same time I feel like if you are making "industry changing" claims about your product, you should have to prove that real well before being taken seriously, much less paid a ton of money via crowd funding. If you don't think thats important, I'd like to start a crowd funding project for my own invention. It turns 1g of bud into 2g of BHO, but you'll have to take my word for it...
     
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  19. stickstones

    stickstones Wasted Staff Member

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    Although the OP mentions the grand claims the visionaries of this device have claimed, the real point of this thread is to point out what may be shady internet marketing practices. I agree with @PapaSmurf6768 that we have gone several rounds in the other thread already about the performance claims and it's getting old. But the marketing tactics vtac is pointing out haven't been addressed yet and are of great concern to those of us who care about this forum.
     
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  20. nopartofme

    nopartofme Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, vtac.

    Astroturfing is a serious offense in my view. I care a great deal about this forum, and behavior like this is harmful to the community.

    While I have been prepared to write off my $89 early bird contribution as a gamble, I am uncomfortable with the fact that my money will be going to people who would make use of these tactics. I will be ceasing public support of this project for now. If the Grasshopper turns out to be the real deal, they will sell millions. For now, with a lack of convincing proof and evidence of dishonest behavior, I don't think they are deserving of any further support.

    Acknowledgement and apology for this by the GH team would be appropriate IMO.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  21. darkrom

    darkrom Great Scott!

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    I guess for me it always comes down to the fact that if the product is good, you don't need shills. It would simply be a waste of time.

    Then again as far as I know, no one outside of the company has ever tried this thing. If that is the case then there are NO valid reviews at all. I think this was done for a reason. If I was selling a vape that lasted for days and was outperforming everything, I'd show everyone. The fact that they can't do that, and they have resorted to, lets face it...lying, is worrisome. Pretending to be a customer or a fan while you work for the company is a lie.

    On the other hand I believe we've had shills from Storz and Bickel, which just blows my mind that they would need to resort to that after proving themselves for years already.

    Its a very hard thing to figure out why companies do what they do sometimes, but there is just a LOT of "shadiness" coming from the marketing of GH. Its a lot of controversy for a product that no one has even seen yet.
     
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  22. lwien

    lwien Well-Known Member

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    My shilldar has been up and running ever since this funding program first started.

    And I totally agree with DR above. I too find it amazing that companies actually believe that people fall for this crap. The majority of the time, it's just so obvious. If you're gonna shill, than at least do it well.

    Over at GC, this guy with no previous posts comes in and spams the exact same post in 12 different portable vape threads with a link to the funding site while stating how great this vapes looks. When I called him out on it, 3 others with absolutely no previous posts, comes in to defend him. Within a few days, he was banned and all of his posts were deleted, but man............like I said, if you're gonna shill, don't be so fracking obvious about it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  23. PapaSmurf6768

    PapaSmurf6768 New Member

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    Astroturfing is wrong, I agree. But to go from one extreme to the other doesn't make much sense to me. These guys don't owe anyone anything, they are crowdfunding, not taking preorders. If they delivered a product that sucked, apologies would be in order. Until then, like I said before, it's just a waiting game. No one has used a GH yet because they've only made a couple prototypes, because their funds were limited prior. I expect that once the IndieGoGo campaign ends, then we'll start seeing some more information, upon which you can make all the judgement you want...
     
  24. nopartofme

    nopartofme Well-Known Member

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    I'm not following. You agree that astroturfing is wrong, and that's what I'm seeking apology for. Like stickstones said above, this is only about the shady marketing tactics and not the vape itself.
     
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  25. lwien

    lwien Well-Known Member

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    There are some of us who would rather not do business with a company who succumbs to those kinds of marketing tactics but would rather do business with companies who are honest in ALL of their dealings.
     
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