Trip to Taipei, Taiwan
Hello backers! I am sorry for the radio silence on my part lately. This is something I definitely do not plan to make a habit of. So, what have we been doing lately? Here it is:
We spend the beginning part of January/late December communicating back and forth with manufacturers. Just one problem...nobody really understood what I was trying to do. The Levitatr keyboard is fundamentally different in minor and major ways compared to a traditional keyboard. When you begin to work with a company that has been building keyboards for 10+ years it becomes difficult to communicate that you have “reinvented the wheel” so to speak. Add a huge language barrier and a 12 +/- hour time difference and the result is a one-email-per-day communication system with confused parties at both ends. Whats the solution? A face to face meeting.
So we traveled to Taiwan to meet with these manufacturers at their facilities. Why Taiwan you ask? Its the unofficial keyboard manufacturer location of the world and I have no idea why and do not care to find out. We arrived in Taipei Wednesday the 18th. First meeting was on the 18th with several others to follow throughout the remainder of the week. I cannot go into much detail about these meetings, their locations and the manufacturers involved because I cannot be sure who reads these updates (cough cough competitors). It should be noted that this is my first experience in this situation. I am only being completely honest with my supporters. I am not a pro but I am a fast learner. Were some mistakes made? Most definitely. Was alot of progress made? Most definitely! Please remember that you pledged money to me to get my company off of the ground. There is no book about doing business in Asia. Scratch that..there are 1000’s of books but most are from big executives flexing their big muscles, muscles we do not yet have...nor would I want to take that stereotypical, thick-headed american approach to doing business in Asia. In my opinion, Asian manufacturers want respect from americans and their companies and this is something I am happy to dish out. Hey, I could not do this without them!
One minor delay and roadblock to progress...Chinese New Year. I knew it was coming I just had not anticipated it taking up so much time. This year, Chinese factories typically shut down from the 18th to the 31st of January. Taiwan takes this upcoming week off (23rd-27th) this year. The manufacturers I am working with rely on both of these areas. This sets us back a short amount of time.
Where are we at now?
All of the parts are in the pipeline. Some are not started due to others needing finished. Its a one foot in front of the other type of process. The mould cannot be cut for the chassis until the circuit board is finished. The circuit board cannot be completed until the keyboard membrane is finished. The mould for the battery cannot be cut until the battery compartment dimensions can be finalized which hinges on the circuit board dimensions the battery shares its space with. The moulds for the upper face, lower cover and kickstand cannot be cut until the chassis is finalized as their dimensions rely on the final dimensions of the chassis. Its a tangled web but we are making progress. We cannot afford to cut moulds and ask questions later as each one costs $3,000-$5000 and we need about 10 of them!
I leave this update with some photos from my journey and a final message.
I need your support now more than ever. You have given me the opportunity of a lifetime and I am forever indebted to you as a backer. You put me on the map. Gizmodo.com, Wired.com, DETAILS Magazine, Esquire Magazine UK, Fast Company Magazine, GQ Japan and many others have all taken interest because of your support for grassroots design and showing the world there was a market for a new, innovative product from an unheard of startup company that could rival major corporations. Its sounds like a movie but its now my life and I will (and do every single day) work my hardest to repay you with an amazing product. Please understand that nobody wants these keyboards in your hands more than I do. I wake up at 8am and go to sleep at 11pm everyday and my nose never leaves my laptop except for basic human necessities. When I get a setback, I am more upset than any of you. It pains me that you all have had to wait this long and longer to get what you have already paid for. All I ask is to please have faith and know that this is not only my full-time job, but my full-time life. I happened to come up with this amazing idea as a light bulb moment. I also happened to pick one of the most complicated iPad accessories as my companies first product. We are not talking about a iPad or iPhone stand here or a hunk of plastic. We are talking about a keyboard that requires hundreds of parts to work with most being custom, first of their kind, kind of parts. The result is an amazing, game changing product but the road to completion is difficult and complicated. I am still planning some sort of perk for making you wait this long. Possibly a price reduction? Stay tuned!