Second Batch and Reflecting on Factory Life
Nothing really prepares you for that first week stepping onto the factory floor to make something for the first time ever. No matter how many MBA classes you’ve taken on operations management, or that fancy six sigma operation excellence certification on the wall, or even all those years spent leading innovation projects at the largest supply chain company in the world. It’s hard to explain why it’s so different, so personal; it’s scary, unpredictable and oh so beautiful.
We’re not a big corporate customer on a rosy “factory tour” - we’re a lean startup with our asses on the workbenches getting our hands metaphorically dirty putting together Genki. We don’t own the factories or have enough orders to make demands so we do what we personally can to move things along in collaboration. This week’s routine has been basically starting work at the factory from 8:30am-10pm 7/days/week assembling Genkis and troubleshooting/improving our manufacturing, packing, sorting, and fulfillment processes. Andrew spends a lot of time with the manufacturing machinery, inside the Faraday cage with the electric and sound testing equipment, and printing lots and lots of mailing labels. Chris spends a lot of time formatting shipping labels for printing (when he closes his eyes all he can see are barcodes), managing and tracking all of our accessory vendors, and managing our massive payments to vendors. All of us spend our time packing… packing and more packing.
And when I’m not packing? I spend my free moments answering emails, FB/KS/IGG messages, mostly though during the car ride to and from the factory in between calls with shipping and certification companies. If one of my responses seemed grumpy this past week, please don’t take it personally! It’s EXHAUSTING and a roller coaster ride of emotions - every positive message in the morning from a happy Genki user is so uplifting but man every time someone asks where there Genki is it’s a reminder and a kick in the ass to work harder (and smarter). We have no regrets though! It’s truly a blessing to have this much demand and to know that our work is meaningful albeit delayed due to the monstrous scale it’s grown to.
Enough About Feelings, Here's the Real Update
If the first 300 packages we sent last week was a sprint, then this week has been an intense marathon to get 5,000 packages out. A lot of the processes that worked for the sprint didn’t work for the 5,000. We had to quickly improve our process as we clearly knew that we were not going to make 5,000 packed and ready to ship earlier this week. We overcomplicated things with the SKUs and just to give you an idea of what the first 5,000 looked like here’s a screenshot of my tracker:
So you might be asking yourself, what the heck are the factories doing if you're exhausted with doing all this work. Well the truth of the matter is there's way too many variations and factories work best at repeating similar things. We made a simple spreadsheet with pictures to coordinate production and basically anything with less than 50 quantity we took it upon ourself too do because factories really don't like small batches. Now, imagine the hardest most impossible level of Overcooked where you have over 9,000 orders in 530 number of combinations. Each Genki has a 6-step manufacturing process and a 3-step testing process. Each accessory also has their own quality check process and then have to be assembled to the right combination attached to the right mailing label. Chris’ girlfriend even flew down to help out and together the four of us were able to pull through despite all the hair-pulling and constant yelling "who's doing the dishes?!"
So the good news is we've sent out 5,500 Genkis today! That means we're more than half way through! It's a bit of manual work to get all the tracking numbers in so sit tight. We have some bad news though, we rushed a bit and somehow didn't have documentation for two of our boxes which got stopped at customs so we have some packages that will have to be shipped out early next week with mailing labels reprinted (out of the 900 blue/red combos and blue/red with stand about 200 are affected and our shipping labels have expired so we'll have to work on this over the weekend). With that said we will send that out with out the remaining 1,000 or so Neon Blue/Red and Grey/Grey Genki's orders out early next week and begin the ARMS, Splatoon, and Mario colorways; we just got the color samples and our eyes are blurry from staring at neon and lack of sleep - the pink one though seems a bit off so we need to do more adjusting. Our goal is to finish everyone’s non-customized order by end of next week and be home well before Christmas for a much needed escape. When you’ve done 8 loads of laundry away from home that’s when you know it’s been too long.
But before my mind wanders too much into life after shipping, I mentioned that it was a sprint last week and a marathon this week. Next week is going to be more of a Spartan Race obstacle course as we start to tackle many more variations of colors. It’s way less orders but way more combo variations (462!) making it impossible to scale these quantities. When we had the voting sessions for color preferences in a previous update we recorded roughly 4% of you backers wanted custom colors - and at the time we had about 2,000 backers so Chris volunteered to to basically handle what we assumed would be 80 orders manually with just a $2 upgrade to cover his hotel fee. That number for some reason has exploded to 1,400 customized orders which is why it’s all-hands on deck to put these orders together and it’s super hard to promise an exact delivery date but basically we won’t leave till we finish.
So there are two areas where we are noticing postal delays - all of Canada due to postal strikes which have sort of cleared but we hear there are some people blocking trucks and parts of California due to fires. We’re working on a solution for Canada with our fulfillment vendor as they say these strikes may go till February(?!) and that other services will cost $30 per package. If anyone has any bright ideas on how to resolve this best please message us. As for Californians please just wait a few more days.
Also some of your respective countries are charging you a combination of taxes and import tariffs and we’re sorry about that but we can’t really report these as gifts especially when we're sending out quantities of 5,000 at once - as a startup we can't risk an audit or get blacklisted at customs. For those that are having issues with us over-declaring the value that’s caused by how the Backerkit system reports value so if that’s the case we’ll take responsibility of any tax portion that’s reported higher if needed - but please give us a breather to do it after we get through the shipments. We've fixed most of this for the upcoming UK deliveries based on feedback in the comments.
For Those Who Have Genki Already
Hey, we seriously love the awesome reviews popping up all over the web. Most of you are enjoying Genki trouble free but we've had a few common concerns as well so I’ll try to address them here:
Having trouble with pairing?
Without an independent screen it can be sometimes difficult to know what’s grabbing the pairing connection so the first time may be difficult. First thing to check is if you know how to properly put your device into discovery/pairing mode (google your brand as it’s usually holding a button down for a few seconds). Also sometimes it helps to make sure you’ve “disconnected” it from your smartphone Bluetooth settings (you don’t need to unpair it). Some smart televisions are known to grab Bluetooth connections and hold them hostage sort of speak. If you have issues pairing try to turn off other Bluetooth devices except for the device you're pairing for the first time and it should be easy to connect afterwards. We saw this issue when we were like in an Bluetooth headphone section of an audio store and it’s just crazy trying to figure out what’s trying to pair.
Seems to be latency?
So Genki can only be as fast as the latency of your headphones, we'll always support the fastest path. The lowest latency codecs are aptX-LL and aptX and we know these are rare but we also support the AAC which is what most of today’s popular headphones support and still get a very fast 90ms (if you see other transmitters below Bluetooth 4.0 they don’t support AAC). Best way to tell what your headphone supports is this site at https://www.bluetoothcheck.com. If your headphones support AAC and you still feel there is latency then it may be caused by other features in your headphone such as noise cancelling. Best to Google to see if others report latency with your pair of headphones (and also compare it with the latency you get from your smartphone).
So we know a few of our cases are getting broken in shipment due to a combination of the portable stand being pretty heavy and the brutal treatment of freight from postal workers. We’ll figure a way to replace those who encounter this unfortunate issue but it’ll likely have to be after the holidays.
Something else still wrong?
Hold both buttons for 8 seconds and unplug Genki to reset the device to factory settings. If all else fails, shoot us an email at email@example.com and we’ll help you troubleshoot or get a replacement as soon as possible. (Please don’t email Backerkit support, you'll just get confusion)
A Minor Plea to Those Eagerly Waiting
We know everyone wants to know what batch they’re in and it seriously takes us about 5 minutes to match your name to something on Backerkit (especially since there’s no wifi in the factory and bad signal), then match that with what’s been packed, and then coordinate with the fulfillment to track the status. While yes I mainly respond during breaks but man I could’ve packed another two orders too. So please please just a little patience - I know everyone has awesome trips coming up!
No More Changes, Really This Time!!!
On a serious note is that we seriously get on average 5 address change requests a day now and we haven’t been able to handle these anymore since this last weekend. I know it's our fault for a late shipment but we have to draw the line. Literally our contact at Floship (our fulfillment vendor) worked with us super crazy hours, even heading back to the office at 3am working till 5pm last Saturday!) to get our labels processed in time because of all the last minute changes. We can’t do this anymore it’s causing way too many uncertainties and delays. All the labels have been paid and prepped for even if it hasn’t shipped. And also we keep getting requests to change colors in hopes to accelerate their shipping order and seriously we can’t anymore!
For Those Who Want More Add-ons
We’ll try to figure a process out after the holidays to help those who are loving Genki and want to add a dock adapter and/or kickstand.
Nerding Out on Bluetooth Certification
So we're now officially Bluetooth certified and can check out our shiny page here. Oh and if you hear anyone suggest that Nintendo is gonna include Bluetooth audio someday, rest assured and point them to the listing for the Nintendo Switch and find that it's not registered for "Advanced Audio Distribution Profile" or A2DP.
Anyway I'm super backlogged in messages and I'm too tired to proofread this post. I need to clear some headspace as my wife is flying in tonight to so I can get hopefully have spend some quality rest time before jumping back in Saturday afternoon to fix those constantly occurring shipping hurdles.
Thanks for listening,
Eddie and the Genki Team
(oh and tracking numbers will be emailed over the weekend it's more manual than it should be)