This is a great piece of journalism, Mark. The tl:dr is a disservice to what you did, though. I understand why you put it in, but some things need to be understood in their entirety instead of being condensed.
A few things come to mind.
Ivan Reedman — is this the Peter Molyneaux of the consumer tech world? Or, should I say middle age Peter Molyneaux (as young molyneaux made some excellent games). Ivan is far beyond the point of redemption. I would even go so far as to say the stress induced health problems are more than just the pressure of getting it done, but had more to do with the extreme guilt from over promising.
Kickstarter — it is true that crowd funding is inherently a fickle and uncertain thing. There are ways to mitigate this, however. I do not build or prototype things, so my ideas might be unreasonable, but here are a few. Put the project on hold for a period of time after it is funded, based upon what it netted — say, 1 week for projects under 500k and add a week for every 500k thereafter. Or some other number. Use that time for someone at kickstarter to have a “show me your work” moment, like in math class where the teacher is looking at not just your answer, but how you got there. Have a finance person look at the finance. A logistics person look at the logistics. An engineer look at the engineering requirements, and so on. Make the project developer respond to their questions. After all, if infrared is awful for object avoidance (as the micro drone creator said) that’s something that an engineer would notice immediately. If there are irreconcilable differences, axe the project and return the money. Failures do more than anything else to make kickstarter look bad. There’s risk, but you can modulate risk.
Kickstarter, pt 2. — Going with the idea above. Allow companies to be “pre certified” by kickstarter. That is, allow them to have all of their stuff reviewed by your experts to see how viable it is. Kickstarter can then assign some sort of grade. This isn’t a this going is going to happen grade, but something showing how much risk in involved by the inherent concepts of the project. Otherwise, kickstarter is just going to look like a greedy middleman, someone who cares only about the $$$ raised and not the final product.
The other adults in the business — why so many? Why so many macs? A supercomputer? Ivan Reedman might be a wunderkid, but let’s emphasize the kid part. 2 million pounds is a lot of money if you’re building golf tees. It’s nothing for a drone that connects over wifi to a supercomputer, can fly on its own, and shoot in 1080p. That’s bonkers.
The backers — Didn’t their mothers teach them that if something is too good to be true, it probably is? Was Ivan Reedman and co just so special that they could do something a decade ahead of everyone else? No. This wasn’t re-imaging available technology to do something innovative, it was creating something out of whole cloth, something that has no peer, present or in the future.