I recently received a message from a backer asking for a candid response to some important questions. I will try my best to answer them below.
Original Kickstarter Post
At the time of posting I had never developed any physical product before. Consequently, I did not know all that was involved in bringing such a product to fruition. In the original campaign I stated that I had detailed drawings and that Teadrop was ready for production. Before putting the project up on Kickstarter I had spoken to a manufacturer in China and received a quote based on the drawings I had. The manufacturer explained what steps would have to be taken and gave an estimated timeframe in which it was to be completed. This is why I explained the status of teadrop the way that I did in the original posting and video. In short, I thought it was far more progressed than it was in reality. I am sorry if this was misleading.
I was asked to be more consistent with updates. This is something I have largely failed to do in the past despite repeated promises to do so. As I will explain below, the progress of teadrop hasn’t always been as I would have liked and I tended to favor only posting updates if significant progress was made.
The Long and Winding Road
After receiving funding via Kickstarter (thank you again!) I proceeded to work with the aforementioned manufacturer to produce the first physical prototype. When speaking with the manufacturer I received continual reassurances that the team was working hard on Teadrop and that I would get a prototype soon. Soon, however, delays in communication grew and I eventually realized that the manufacturer was avoiding admitting that his firm was incapable of creating such a device. As a result, I finally had to cut my losses and quit working with that firm. At this time, several months had passed and I found myself scrambling to find a new manufacturer. I should have kept you updated on this progress but I was embarrassed to admit that I had lost several months and had nothing to show for it.
Finding a new manufacturer
After interviewing around half a dozen manufacturing firms I finally settled on one in Canada. This manufacturer explained to me that the process of development would be much more involved and take far longer than the original manufacturer had indicated. Furthermore, it would cost nearly double the quote I had received from the first manufacturer. Unfortunately, the amount of money that I put as a goal on Kickstarter was based on the original quote I received from the first manufacturer. This new manufacturer was perfectly suited to the project but I didn’t have enough funds to proceed. Again, I should have explained this dilemma to you but instead I resolved to fix the problem independently and update you once I had figured out a solution. Eventually, I put my personal savings toward continuation of development and made up the difference by borrowing money from relatives.
The new manufacturer indicated that we would have to go back to the drawing board as the drawings I had had a number of issues. We began taking a methodical approach to building the product again from scratch based on the most basic requirements: a device for steeping tea with an integrated timer. At this time we were having weekly meetings; each week the team would present a new design to me and we would go over it trying to find new problems. There were a number of times that it seemed ready to go to production but we would find a fatal problem that sent us back to the drawing board. It turned out that such a device wasn’t nearly as simple as we had expected. In retrospect I realize that I should have been updating you with all of this but with each new design it seemed that we were so close to completion that I kept putting off updates until I had something concrete to show. Over the course of several months we went from a product that worked primarily with springs and gears to one based solely on air pressure and then finally to one that uses a combination of air pressure and a single spring. The device went from glass and stainless steel to plastic due to weight restrictions (from the gears) and then finally back to stainless steel and plastic. This entire process took months and yielded one physical prototype, photos of which I uploaded in a previous update.
The current design is the result of months of R&D. It features a stainless-steel enclosure with several plastic components (part of the cap and inbuilt floats). The timer is put into action by a clicking motion, similar to that of a clicking ballpoint pen. Various time intervals are achieved by regulating the amount of air-pressure that is released through several holes in the top of the device.
In the last update I explained that we had decided to manufacture Teadrop out of stainless steel and uploaded some photos of the present design. I also explained that we were still working on finalizing our timer. It has taken since the last update to figure out a timer mechanism that is elegant, efficient, and durable.
As of three weeks ago we finalized the timer design, integrated it into the enclosure, and ordered the materials and parts necessary for making the new physical prototype. It is currently being manufactured and I am told that it should be done by the end of this week. Allowing a week for shipping and customs clearing I should have it in two weeks.
We have been working hard to work out as many of the problems as possible before proceeding to the second physical prototype as the quote we agreed upon in the beginning only included two such prototypes. Unfortunately, this process took a long time and there wasn’t much to show other than minor modifications to the overall device. I should have posted more updates over the course of this development but I was afraid of revealing the frustrating nature of the R&D process, which at times felt like “one step forward, two back”. Again, I kept pushing off updates until I had something “impressive” to show. Unfortunately, this made many of you feel as though you were supporting an abandoned project, and for that I am sorry.
As I mentioned above, I anticipate to have the second, and hopefully final, physical prototype in around two weeks. We are working hard to have Teadrop shipping ahead of the holiday season and I have been assured by the manufacturer that this will be possible. We are confident in this finalized design and assuming it functions as expected it is the design that will go to full production.
What I Have Learned So Far
I have learned a lot from this entire process. I truly didn’t realize that after the Kickstarter campaign Teadrop would have required so much more R&D. Product development is far more involved and time-consuming than I had originally thought and if I had a better understanding of this at the time I never would have posted the project to Kickstarter in such a premature stage. Perhaps most importantly I have learned that frequent and candid updates are important components of Kickstarter campaigns and I have fallen very short in this regard.
I would like to apologize again for the lack of transparency throughout the entire process. I hope that this update has explained a lot of why certain decisions were made and, furthermore, instilled a sense of confidence that Teadrop will be shipping as soon as possible.
I have attached several images of the final design that went to the prototype manufacturing stage. When I receive the prototype I will post an update immediately.
Over the course of this process I have received many supportive comments despite the aforementioned shortcomings. Thank you again for your support and patience. Please continue to ask questions and post comments. I would like to turn this around and rebuild the community of amazing supporters that believed in teadrop from the outset.
I am writing today with an update on the progress of teadrop. I know things have been silent for a while, however, rest assured that teadrop has been progressing.
The image below is of the first physical prototype. It's great to finally have something tangible that I can experiment with. The first prototype revealed some problems with the design, mostly that it is a bit too small for tea leaves to fully expand within the inner chamber. As a result, we've been discussing modifications to this first design and have been incorporating them into plans for the second physical prototype, which will begin production this coming week.
In addition to the progress on the prototype front I have secured a full patent on the design as well as a trademark on the name Teadrop.
Thank you for your support and your patience!
pledged of $12,000 goal
seconds to go
May 6, 2011 - Jun 5, 2011 (30 days)
Pledge $25 or more
2oz of premium loose-leaf Japanese green tea in a special tin stating that you helped support teadrop's development.
Pledge $40 or more
Pre-order your very own teadrop. You will receive your teadrop before it goes on sale and at a price 20% lower than retail. Add $7 to your pledge for international shipping (outside of the US).
Pledge $100 or more
If you pledge over $100 you will get a teadrop before it goes on sale, an insulated tea travel mug with the teadrop logo and a statement that you have helped support teadrop on it. Also, your name will be included on the teadrop website as a backer.
Pledge $500 or more
For this you will get a case of 20 teadrops before anyone else. Your name will also appear on the inside of the teadrop packaging as a backer.