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An easy to use device that allows anyone to quickly and simply increase the available memory in their MacBook computer.
9,805 backers pledged $384,319 to help bring this project to life.

To our wonderful backers - the big one!

Posted by niftydrives (Creator)

This update includes:

- appointing a new manufacturer: Foxconn

- design verification: DCA-Design

- Mk3 prototypes: all the models plus the MiniDrive Retina 13

- Mk3 timeline

First of all, thank you to everyone that has reached out to us to tell us how much they love their MiniDrive, we really appreciate the support guys - that is what keeps us going and working on this project every waking moment.

We are sorry that we have had to keep you guys in the dark for the last month - it has been necessary due to a number of confidential discussions that have been integral in developing the new timeline for the Mk3 as well as our future products.

Before embarking on this project, neither Steve nor I had ever manufactured anything. I had done some simple tinkering in the local FabLab and had a passing knowledge of CAD (self taught). Steve was living and working in China as a property developer and I was training to be a lawyer. Then Kickstarter changed our lives forever. You guys changed our lives forever.

In the truest sense of the word this was a Kickstarter project of what we have come to feel represents the best of Kickstarter: the ability of anyone, not just professional design studios and large companies, to launch a new product on the market. It's often not pretty. Deadlines are and always will be missed - often due to the inexperience of the founders, as well as the unrealistic expectations they put on themselves and their manufacturers. Sometimes projects fail. But it is giving those with a good idea and a lot of passion the start they need to make their vision come true which makes Kickstarter brilliant, and game changing.

However, there is a dark side to Kickstarter success: every funded project has a responsibility to hundreds if not thousands of people. This alone can end up being crushing, resulting in nervous breakdowns, personal bankruptcy of founders, as well class action law suits and a bad taste in the mouth of those that came to Kickstarter to help support an idea they believed in. That is what we (Steve & I, and every other founder) sign up for, knowingly or not, when starting a Kickstarter project.

The journey is an incredible one, both personally and professionally. Over the next few weeks we will try to share with you guys a little more about what we have learnt the hard way about successfully making a mass produced premium hardware product.

But what news of the MiniDrive? Brace yourself, this is going to take a while!

New manufacturer - Foxconn

Our previous manufacturer was not strictly a manufacturer, but a sub-contractor that project manages the manufacture of a product to local Chinese firms and then oversees the quality control process on the ground in China.

There are several firms that provide this and similar services and directly target successful Kickstarter projects, offering a fully managed manufacturing solution. Pebble, Remee and a couple of other great Kickstarter projects appear to have also gone down a similar path.

In a future update I will carefully go through what we learnt on the way in selection of manufacturer, but some of you guys have directly experienced, and everyone has seen, the results of getting that critical choice wrong.

After a long period of discussions we have finally appointed Foxconn as our new principle manufacturer of the Mk3 MiniDrive. For us, quality is, and always has been, massively important and we cannot tell you how upset we have been with the problems with the MiniDrive Mk2. Among all the manufacturers we have spoken to, Foxconn takes quality immensely seriously, and ultimately made our choice very easy.

Design verification - DCA-Design  

With the issues that we saw with the Mk2 (body-aluminium separation/read-write errors) it was massively important to us that the Mk3 MiniDrive is the best we could possibly make, given the design constraints.

As a self-taught designer with a limited knowledge of industrial process, it was critical to me that the Mk3 was looked at by a qualified and relevant 3rd party. We got DCA-Design, a leading European engineering and design consultancy, to review the new designs and advise on manufacturability and robustness, paying special attention to the key issues with the Mk2.

http://www.dca-design.com/

This does not cost as much as you might expect (as long as you keep the brief narrow), and I would strongly recommend any successful Kickstarter project to invest in this before commencing manufacturer as it will save you a lot of heart ache later. We didn't do this the first time round for a number of reasons (which I will go into on future posts) but a quick pro tip: just because someone says they can manufacture something, doesn't mean they can manufacture it!

Absolutely critical to our design verification this time round was to make sure that there were no problems that would crop up during assembly. We removed glue entirely from our manufacturing process and have created aluminium-body interface that requires the entire MiniDrive to be broken before it can every come apart. As there is no glue, the join is entirely mechanical and so will not vary from MiniDrive to MiniDrive, which was a large draw-back of the previous glue based design.

The Mk3 prototypes - introducing the MiniDrive Retina 13

So, with the new design reviewed and revised seven ways to Sunday, and our new manufacturer ready and waiting to spring into action, the first call of the day was to prototype.

So, without further ado, may I present the MiniDrive Mk3 (in prototype form, this is approximately what the final one will look like, minus the rough edges!):

We are thinking about putting a flash of colour down the middle of the MiniDrive as we felt that it added extra awesomeness (like a go faster stripe but without the V8 engine). This is not definitely going to be included (and is definitely not the final shade!) but is an idea we are currently experimenting with. 

 And, finally, the MiniDrive Retina 13:

As you can see, the damn thing is tiny compared to the other MiniDrives and I cannot tell you guys how much a massive pain in the behind getting everything to fit was!

The middle one (the one in red) is made using a soft tool and is much closer to what the final MiniDrives Mk3 will look like.

And in the MacBook Retina 13":

Timeline for Mk3 - August 2013 

Due to the change in manufacturer we are now looking at August for delivery of the Mk3. We know that for some of you this is a year since we first started before you will finally get your MiniDrive, and there is nothing we would have liked more than to get a perfect MiniDrive out to you first time! You have been with us from the very start, watching us struggle to deal with thousands of orders, as a two person team. We are still struggling, but it is getting easier. It has been a crazy journey until now and we would like to share a little more of that in detail with you between now and delivery of the Mk3. 

So, every Friday, at 5pm London time, I will be posting a small retrospective on what we have learnt at each stage of the process - from funding to mass production. It is my hope that some-day every one of you might produce something you love, be it a big or a small project, and it is the least I can do to share with you all that we have learnt (or not learnt) on our journey so far!

Piers + Steve & The Nifty Team

contact@niftydrives.com

Comments

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    1. niftydrives Creator on

      @Avery - absolutely. We won't be doing the shipping of the Mk3 in quite the same way as we have been doing the MK2, so you will have ample chance to change your delivery address before we dispatch.

    2. Missing avatar

      Avery Worrell on

      Hey, just a quick question — I'll be moving before August. Will I be able to change my shipping address?

    3. niftydrives Creator on

      @Scott - that is awful! I am so, so sorry to hear that. Please drop us an email to contact@niftydrives.com and we'll do everything we can to rectify the situation.

    4. ScottG Canon on

      I like to know where the hell is my replacement is for the 15" Retina is!!!!???? I got screwed in the but from apple giving me a bill for $180 + Tax to pry that fraker out of the slot it got stuck in! Yes!!! I tried the steps to get it out too as mentioned. Your lucky I don't file a law suit for my loss of time giving my only mac to apple for 2 weeks. Then a second trip to repair because the port continues to not work right with normal SD Cards now. I wrote a glowing report of how much I loved the mini drive too. Up to the point when the card's silver bar came off and nothing else followed with it. Months of problems followed because of all the prying I did to get it out of the slot. Plus it would not sleep because of the card being stuck. The minidrive was broken in tiny slivers from all the digging that was done trying to get it out. Apple Never returned the part to me except the little pulling device you sent with it.

      Now I see these are on Amazon.com too. Much less money and a better design as its one complete part not being glued together.

      So my damages are over $180 for their repair, plus the mangled MiniDrive price, and then the 64gb SDcard from sandisk. TOTAL of $270+ all adding up. Not to mention the damage to the port that was done trying to get it out.

      I would just like to have a working one so I could urinate on it one time.

    5. Michael Rachid on

      Still having problems with my minidrive... Read-only issue. And I'm not in the mood to put a tape around it with the risk of that get sticked in my MBP...

    6. JKB
      Superbacker
      on

      No worries on the delays—you guys have been AWESOME at keeping us updated. The straight dope on what's happening with you is all I really want. I can forgive as long as I know what I'm forgiving! And, for the record, I LOVE my MiniDrive! Thank you!!!

    7. niftydrives Creator on

      @Chris - we are moving our email server as the old one was getting really bogged down. Should all be set within the next few hours. If you get a bounced email just give it a few hours and shoot it across again, should work.

    8. Missing avatar

      Chris Mascatello on

      Should we be concerned that the nitfydrives.com domain is bouncing email addresses? I just tried to respond to an email from Piers (and also tried to forward to the "contact" address) and was not successful.

    9. Heri Sim
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks! Still having problems with my minidrive, but thanks.

    10. Paul on

      Hi guys, I haven't received the mini drive I was promised in the rewards section either. However, I made the developers aware of this via email and also requested to wait for the MK3. I don't feel cheated, to be honest given the teething troubles with the previous versions I feel lucky in that the product I eventually receive has been, by now, extensively tested & hopefully all the kinks are worked out.

    11. Phillip Haydon on

      @niftydrives - I think everyone here can accept a few months delay because of having 10 fold more orders to for-fill than expect. There's a huge difference between 11k and 384k. I think we can all accept that niftydrives is in-experienced and as a result things may get delayed, new things are learned that no one was aware of, etc.

      But I think most frustration is coming to these updates hearing that shipping is happening and never receiving anything.

      At first its like "oh ok, they're shipping, I'll get mine soon"

      Then "well they have a lot of orders to for-fill, i might be towards the end of the list"

      Then "its been a couple of months since they said they were sending them out..."

      All of us here are used to buying stuff off the internet from around the world and we know shipping can take a few days or a few weeks. Hell even Amazon books from small stores can take up to 2 months to send large old books. (seriously if Amazon doesn't sell the book, its sold by a small store, took 2 months and a lot of customs pain to get a $190, 130yo book from America to NZ)

      Ultimately a lot of us who haven't received anything are feeling scammed. We have this now promised MK3 version coming and the same people who received nothing before are left to wonder if we will actually receive the new version.

      It's not like we are issued tracking numbers :(

      I really just want my nifty drives, I still think this is an amazing idea and product. Just want to eventually receive something :'(

    12. Missing avatar

      Kimberly Vandegrift on

      Thanks for the update. I'm happy to be waiting for the Mk3! Looking forward to your retrospective as well.

    13. Missing avatar

      Oliver Schoettke on

      Good update - gets me excited for the next version, I just sprang for a new battery on my MacBook so it's good for a while and waiting for thenifty

      I have very little experience with glue in manufacturing but it was almost always negative, so good thing you moved on.

      One of the reasons I'm on kickstarter is to hear these stories of trial and error and gaining experience. So even if not every project worked out for me, the updates almost make it worth while by themselves. Keep them coming.

    14. niftydrives Creator on

      @Andrew @John - our intention is absolutely to get a MiniDrive to every single person who is owed one. We have sent out over 15,000 MiniDrives and are now working with one of the top manufactuers of electronic consumer goods. Unfortunately this stuff takes time. Lots of time. I know that from your perspective, having received nothing to date, it must be incredibly frustrating and make you feel cheated. We are working towards resolving this every day, and know there are lots of people who feel just like you that we can't wait to finally get their MiniDrive to! You have been patient and understanding until now, and I know that everyone has a point at which they throw up their hands and say "screw this, these guys are just messing me around". I really hope that by being with us through every update and at every step of the way you have seen the difficulties involved in going from a two man team, to even the start of an organisation that can deal with $400k orders at one go. That is what kickstarter is. It is the journey; seeing through our eyes the challenges we face in getting this far, and what is against us in the future. When we gave our estimated delivery date of November, that was in order to delivery $11k of orders. A perfectly manageable amount by two guys with little experience in manufacture, but a willingness to learn, some great local partners, and a lot of energy. What instead we were faced with was a mammoth task; that of setting up a full assembly line operation within 3 months, to deliver to over 100 countries internationally (with all the customs and tax implications that had alone), and we had to do it from scratch. Problems, delays, setbacks are pretty much guaranteed! But we are still here, want to be here and we will deliver.
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Todd - Really sorry to hear this! Drop us an email to contact@niftydrives.com, it is honestly the quickest way to sort this kind of problem out as it creates a papertrail for us to reference later that me just emailing you doesn't. Also, I can be crazy slow in replying to messages due to the volume I am dealing with daily. If you email contact@niftydrives you are going through to our dedicated customer support team.
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Ryan - you are absolutely right. Taking your time is so important. But with 9,800 people waiting on you, it is hard to go "sorry guys, this will be another 3 months" - especially if it is the third time you have done it! I cannot tell you how temting it is just to go "yea, next week guys" and then go and yell at everyone to get a move on. But that does no one any favors. Hardware has to be done right because the cost of getting it wrong is SO high!
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @John - we STILL cannot believe how much work is involved in bringing even the simplest thing to market. It's like wrestling with an angry cat - just when you thought you'd got it under control it twists out your grip and gets you right in the face. Our cat wrestling skills are slowly improving though...
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Dean - yey!
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Eric - we hear you buddy. If you haven't done already, please drop an email to contact@niftydrives.com and Jasmeet & Varun will sort you out.
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Greg - Great to hear (who doesn't love to hear that). See the Marzadori answer below for taking new orders.
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Paul - the ever present paradox of the chicken & the egg!
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Jerome - haha, I'm not sure! Much as I really appreciate the comparisons, I think we have a little way to go there :-P
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Andrew - The new delivery date is for the Mk3's - if you would prefer to have a Mk2 we can send you a new one, we still have a few on stock, just drop us an email on contact@niftydrives.com
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Philip - I know you and Steve have had a couple of chats about this, please drop us another line if there is anything else we can do.
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Marzadori - Nice! We will be taking orders again as soon as we have a definite rock solid delivery date from Foxconn. That won't be happening until July. We will be sure to let everyone know once everything is up and running again :-)
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Johnny - abolutely, we are painfully aware of you guys who are still waiting for a MiniDrive, we won't be forgetting you!
      --------------------------------------------------------
      @Travis - August as long as everything goes to plan - we will be shipped to all the waiting Kickstarter guys first before shipping to any new orders we might get
      --------------------------------------------------------
      Best, Piers

    15. Johnny on

      @andrew in total agreement

    16. Missing avatar

      Andrew on

      @Paul and Paul,
      No, Kickstarter is not a store. However, I'm sick of that being used as an excuse for project creators to not fulfill their promises. Project creators have a legal obligation to deliver on the product they promised. Some of us have never received _anything_ and this whole project just seems like a scam now. Here's what Kickstarter says about projects that are failing to meet their promises:

      "Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?
      Yes. Kickstarter's Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill."

      Nifty has not delivered and has not demonstrated to a satisfactory extent that they will ever be able to deliver on what they promised.

    17. Missing avatar

      Stu Robson on

      August? Well fingers crossed I actually get one this time around. Making do with this plastic minidrive for ebay is just about doing it.

    18. Todd A Naber on

      Hi Piers + Steve,
      I finally received my Nifty Drive. I'm think this must be the first or second iteration of the Nifty. I also purchased the 64gb Micro you offered via the Kickstarter program. When I insert the Micro into the Nifty and insert it into my MacBook Pro- it doesn't mount on the desktop. I have to find the 'sweet-spot' in the Nifty so the Micro is read through the Nifty and it mounts on the desktop.
      The other problem is- the Nifty inserts in the MacBook Pro's SD slot- but it goes in but is hard getting it back out (maybe the Micro causes the outer jacket of the Nifty to be too thick. Right now it's in- so I'll leave it in till I hear back. Do other's have this problem?
      Inquiring minds would like to know,
      Kind Regards,
      Todd Naber (applguy@gmail.com)

    19. Missing avatar

      Alexandre on

      Good job guys! Even with the problems and the delays I only have good experience with your service so I will wait the time it will take to make the MK3 :)

    20. Matt Barton on

      Hi guys,

      As someone who received the original drive but could not be read by my rMBP then I am happy to wait for MK3, just to know it will work straight out of the box when I am traveling with it. I look forward to receiving the new version when it is ready.

    21. Paul on

      Stop with the request for refunds. As it was mentioned earlier, Kickstarter is not a shop in which you go to purchase products its somewhere you come to back great ideas. I too never received my mini drive & as a result opted to wait for the MK3. As an individual who has backed a number of projects now II can definitely inform you all that this is not the only project to have hit a few snags along the way & be behind schedule - trust me on that. Anyways enough rambling, thanks for the update guys.

    22. Missing avatar

      Ryan Lindsley on

      Thanks for the update. Take your time. Make it right. Glad to help fund something awesome. Also, I'm looking forward to the Mk3! Looks sweet!

    23. Missing avatar

      John Dean on

      I was one of the unfortunate who received the Retina version that was totally DOA - no read only issues, couldn't even be seen at all. I knew coming into my kickstarter projects I fund that it's a risk. This isn't best buy. No guarantees. Before you fund a project, put on the big boy pants and read the fine print like any adult should when signing a contract. I funded it early in the funding period, so I'm just shy of hitting a year. For any idea to go from concept to a first run production in another country, ship, and have the issues worked on and a new manufacturing source procured, and hopefully end up in my hand all in a year give or take, sounds pretty impressive to me. I know I couldn't do it, which is why I like to fund projects. Piers, Steve, it's been a rough road, but kudos for hanging in there and dealing with the problems as they came up. I for one am looking forward to the MK III this summer.

    24. Dean Flory on

      I love my Nifty and look forward to seeing the new version as well. I realize now I was one of the lucky ones. It's definitely worth holding out for gang. Having the extra space on my retina MBP has been great.

    25. Eric Olsen on

      STILL WAITING FOR MINE.

    26. Pace McCulloch on

      Thanks for this update guys, very helpful for others of us who were wondering about manufacturing in China. I'm looking forward to your other updates with tips.

    27. Greg Knackstedt on

      The MiniDrive i received was fantastic. How do I order an updated version?

    28. Missing avatar

      Paul on

      I backed this project as well, and I would like to point out to other backers, that Kickstarter is not a store! If you want finished products in a short time frame, go to Amazon.

      The Minidrive creators have most likely long since blown through the money that they collected from us, and are dutifully trying to complete this project. I'm sure that there are other project creators who would have abandoned their project by now. Failure is a risk that creators AND backers should take into account before using Kickstarter. That said, I think this project will ultimately succeed. Allow them to finish their work.

      If you expect a refund at this point, especially given the colossal efforts these creators are making, I would strongly discourage you from ever backing another Kickstarter project. Wait for the product to come out in retail stores and purchase the product then. Of course the risk then is that the project never gets funded at all, and excellent ideas die on the drawing board.

    29. Missing avatar

      Jerome Salesin on

      OK, So August, Sept., Oct.....what ever...just as long as I get one that really works. Edison, Ford, Tesla...they all had major disappointments, but just look at what they finally accomplished.
      Keep plugging away, just make sure it truly works right out of the box, and I will be happy!

    30. Johnny on

      At this point I want a refund too.

    31. Missing avatar

      Andrew on

      Wait, so now the expected shipping date is 9 months after the original estimate? (You apparently screwed up and lost my order, so I have received absolutely nothing from you) And since you haven't met any of the previous delivery date promises, I have zero confidence that you will meet this new August date.

      Piers & Steve, it's time for a refund.

    32. Phillip Haydon on

      @Johnny - I haven't received a drive or even my MicroSD cards. Either they were never sent, or they continue to send to the wrong address. :/

    33. Missing avatar

      Jean-Paul on

      Thank you for being above board and real about the situation. I am looking forward to getting the new mini drive.
      Foxxcon is legit

    34. Missing avatar

      Young Kim on

      I'm sorry to hear that other backers have not yet received their nifty drives. Either way, I have to say that this is an ingenious piece of hardware. The material and form complement the aluminum MacBooks very well. And functions really well as a simple secondary flash drive. I was really surprised when my drive fit well in both the Air and Retina 15". Keep up the good work! I'm happy to have support this project!

    35. Marzadori Pierrot on

      I'm a backer and ordered an MiniDrive Pro.
      Few weeks afrer, I got an MB Pro Retina 13".
      Glad to hear that you managed to design a MiniDrive for the Retina 13".
      How can I reserve the new Retina MiniDrive 13"?

    36. Johnny on

      A good amount of us have yet to receive the first MK drive let alone mk2. May, June, now August ship date. I'm borderline doubtful I will ever get my drive at this point. Please don't disappoint the handful of us that have yet to even receive this project we paid for.

    37. Missing avatar

      Travis Hoyt on

      Thanks for the great update. For those of us that chose to wait on getting our reward until the new version comes out, when might we see those?