We are working like crazy to get Strawbees to the world outside of kickstarter and it's all very exciting as it's been a fantastic year thanks to all of you. A lot of things have happened since our last update so to avoid turning this update an essay we will only touch on some of the most important ones.
Firstly we have a new CEO, Erik Bergelin. Erik was headhunted straight from McKinsey&Company for his skills in scaling up businesses. He is a great guy and has begun building the organization Strawbees needs to spread playful learning across the world. If anyone feels they can help us as an agent, distributor or global production partner please contact email@example.com.
Secondly, because of our choice to have Strawbees open hardware, the wonderful Kids Hack Day team that Erik Torstensson has worked with the past years have created a fantastic add-on to the system. So we hope you join us in welcoming the first new spinoff product, the Quirkbot, a microcontroller toy that anyone can program. Just like the Strawbees it uses inexpensive commonly available materials like regular drinking straws, LEDs and hobby servos to create a wide variety of hackable toys. You just squeeze on regular electronics components with the help of straws and the result is a very unique starting point for robotics and a great tool to build tons of fun quirky creatures.
One of the wonderful interfaces this makes possible is the drinking straw pressure sensor that makes your Strawbees structures, like our old fish, come to life by simply squeezing a straw. Quirkbot will go up on kickstarter the 20th of january 7 pm GMT+1 (or 1 pm EST), so make sure not to miss the early bird specials. Until then you can check out the teaser video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYL7X1Sxnio
Thirdly we are almost finished with the new retail version of the Strawbees kits and will get back to you with a great discount program in time for the product launch as a thank you for helping us get started.
And last but not least we are in the middle of developing concepts for educational fun instructions for the Strawbees. One problem we have had in making instructions is that there is no single sequence you need to follow to build your structures. That's why we're trying something different, hopefully making it an interesting challenge at the same time. Please check out the early concepts of our single sheet instructions in the linked pdf:s and feel free to get back to us with any ideas you have to make it easier to understand or better in any way.
We are happy to announce that production is finally DONE!
We can't begin to describe how nice it was to see great looking Strawbees coming out of the machine and after production was setup correctly it all went very smoothly.
Once production started rolling yesterday the Strawbees team had help from friends and collaborators such as Jakob Uhlin, one of our workshop leaders, and we packed 2/3 of the kits and everything looks nice.
Unfortunately we have a red day here in Sweden tomorrow so nothing will be leaving Sweden until monday, but more than 1500 kits will then be heading out to their destinations around the world. For now we hope you will make do these teaser pictures.
Because of this red day business we have also decided to give you the night before printing out the addresses so you can still change your address one final time. We know there has been some trouble figuring out how to do this so we checked with one of our friends to understand the backer end of the Kickstarter interface.
One way we know works is to search for the email from Kickstarter with the subject: Response Needed! -- Get your reward for backing STRAWBEES - dream BIG, build BIGGER! by CREATABLES. In that email click on the "click here to respond" button and you should be able to change your address. This is the only way to make sure we will have the correct address when shipping, we will try to find all messages too, but no guarantees!
Once again, sorry for all the delays and a great big thank you for bearing with us and for making this happen!
We seem to have caught the kickstarter hardware delay bug hard as production on friday did not work as expected. The machines didn't manage to cut through the plastic and there was this really sinking feeling of "where do we go from here?" about the entire Friday.
As I flew to San Francisco on monday and have had jam packed days at MakerCon since I arrived it's been hard to find time to sit down, figure out what to say and post an update. I'm sorry for this gap in communication but the good thing is that I was in contact with Petter and the manufacturers in Sweden last night and we have now managed to get the tool working by modifying it slightly. So anyway that delay makes this update feel much more hopeful now. But even so these "modified" tool puts us in a spot where the production generates almost 50% surplus materials, which is not nearly sustainable so we will only run a small first batch to evaluate how well the tools work over time. By the end of today we will be able to evaluate this first run and if all is well order a new tool configuration that should be much more efficient so we can get all the Strawbees out to you as soon as possible. The tool manufacturers have promised to be super fast as they played a big part in the fact that the previous ones did not work.
So the result of all this regarding the precut kits is that we will may be able to start shipping low quantities early next week and then ship continuously over a couple of weeks time forward due to the switch of tools. If you need to change your address because of all these unfortunate delays you can still do this by managing your backed project and editing the information in the survey.
Regarding the Infinite kits, they also hit a bit of a strange setback. The tools worked brilliantly, but the hole punches were the wrong size as you can see in the following image. The American 7mm hole punches on the right that we received in the trial tools were shaped differently and cut out a 5,8mm hole, which made it really tricky to click things together. So we ordered a bigger hole punch, but these cut out a 7,5 mm hole which was too big instead. Turns out there had been a mixup somewhere in the supply chain on the first batch and those hole punches weren't true 7mm and today I am getting new tools with correct dimensions shipped directly to the place I'm staying at in San Francisco. If these work we will order all the Infinite Kit's immediately and you can expect them to ship within two to three weeks.
Once again we are so sorry for all these delays, we could never have imagined that something as simple as this little thing that we had already cut out tens of thousands of pieces of could give us so much trouble. In hindsight we can see some places where we possibly could have acted faster or made better decisions but the fact is that we misjudged the implications of scale and getting a system that works and is efficient from manufacturing to shipping of these multiple piece productions.
As I mentioned in the previous update we are visiting Bay Area Maker Faire this weekend and because of all the delays we are only one person on site, so we thought maybe one or two of our wonderful backers would like to help us out in the stall for a couple of hours to cover me when I give my talks. We can reward you with tickets to the Faire and a handsome amount of Strawbees and you'll get a full rundown of all the features and how to use them from me. If you are interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a little bit of information about yourself and why you think we could be a good team at Maker Faire. I have two official spots with tickets, but you are all welcome to come by and play/construct with Strawbees if you visit the Maker Faire.
I can't say this often enough, but we are really thankful for your support and are so overwhelmed with the response we get when we show this little invention to people. None of this would have happened without our backers and there is nothing we would rather do than get your Strawbees to you as soon as possible.
Packaging, stickers and posters are now printed and done and we are locking addresses for shipping as we will run setup for our first large scale production tomorrow after lunch. So we hope that production will run smoothly on friday and that we will start shipping monday next week, incredibly exciting.
On another note Gothenburg has a Science festival right now and we have several Strawbees activities with kids building large structures around town. We visited our fractal workshop at the end of visiting hours yesterday and saw four huge Sierpinski Tetrahedrons towering over enthusiastic kids.
To all our backers in SF that will visit the Bay Area Maker faire we invite you to come by our spot there and if you have the time see Erik's talks about the creation of Strawbees.
We are so sorry for these repeated delays and really look forward to ship this wonderful little toy to all of you who have helped us get them into the world. Thanks again for backing us and lets hope the first real Strawbees batch leaves Gothenburg next week. We will give you more information and updates about the production tomorrow and Friday so stay tuned!