Trouble in paradise
This is certainly the announcement we had been hoping we didn't have to make.
After numerous proposals and a dead-end search for alternatives, we did not succeed in securing a suitable shutter unit, a key part of the camera. Or at least not at a unit price we can afford (not even by a margin, due to a relatively small first production run of 2000 units).
The issue lies in the fact that, unlike not very long ago when the industry standard was 35mm over digital and full frame shutter units were common and mass-produced, today these units are reserved for mostly high-end models. So with production at only a fraction of what it once was, this means that demand and supply also dropped, leaving only one or two manufacturers worldwide. Our main mistake was made at the pre-Kickstarter stage; To get a realistic idea for off-the-shelf component costing, we went down the route of requesting quotes from sellers that supply parts for repair and service centers, as they can be bought in bulk and often come straight from the manufacturer. While in this case we don’t suspect bad intentions on the seller's part (since we had used once of their samples in the prototype), the shutter units became unavailable to us in large quantity once we were ready to order after DFM was finished. While at first sight many other sellers seemed to have access to service parts, and we felt reassured by our quotes, it turned out the supply chain has become so extremely limited, that no-one was able to help us with a substantial order.
On paper it’s quite simple; Or we throw the towel, or we ramp up the production run -but this needs extra investment- or we make our own shutter.
The first is of course not an option, and while we are in talks with investors about the second, we have decided to take fate into our own hands and will be designing a shutter in-house. In fact, we have already started work on a prototype unit. We are testing some of the casing materials this week and are designing the electronics. However, no mad heroics here, just a calculated effort combined with hard work and step by step progress. We know that it will not be an easy task to design and manufacture our own unit.
We need to be careful here to not promise before we know we can deliver. Even though over these past few months we have been able to surround ourselves with capable engineers and have found support from a compatible R&D facility, this is nevertheless a difficult undertaking. Since A; the unit needs to be able to reach shutter speeds up to 1/4000th of a second and B; we need to be able to produce and reproduce at a relatively low cost.
So what does this mean for my camera?
Because of this, the production on the camera is delayed and as such, a release date is the hardest part for us to estimate at this point in time. With the Christmas and New Year period coming up, manufacturing and prototyping facilities are slower than average. Besides this we need to lab-and field-test the units once we have a working design. So in order to allow ourselves the flexibility to do this the correct way, we need to be realistic and expect that this will be no sooner than late spring or even summer of 2019.
We realize this is setting us back by a lot, and we understand if this causes disappointment, but this is the road we have to take.
A positive coming from this is that we will not be dependent on 3rd party suppliers for a key component anymore, and yes, if we succeed, we will be taking orders. Likely with a reasonably low MOQ, if there is any interest.
Additionally, the extra time has allowed us to further fine-tune the design, something that is definitely not a luxury with a first generation product. So there is definitely good that will come from this if we can pull it off.
Other Reflex news
We realize most of you are here in direct relation to the camera (and might even consider anything else a distraction) but we do want to keep you informed about the whole picture, as events are sometimes directly or indirectly related.
Furthermore, this update -due to its nature- exceptionally counts as a press release making it important to communicate about the brand as a whole and be as complete and transparent as possible about our roadmap, the challenges we are facing, as well as the efforts we are making to succeed.
So, in other news; we have found a strong strategic partner in our optics manufacturer and they stand beside us to fully support the Reflex line-up of 3 primes starting with the 40mm we introduced at Photokina. We will be production ready by mid March.
Meanwhile we will also continue the development of other Reflex products that tie in with the Reflex I camera. This of course in parallel to the effort that goes into producing the shutter unit.
Seed investment round
As a promising startup, we have been invited to represent Reflex as part of a select few -this year apparently had over 8000 applications- at the prestigious Startup Grind in Silicon Valley in February, where we will be presenting the Reflex roadmap to investors as part of a seed investment round that will close in March. We welcome all investors and strategic partners. To request the Reflex pitch deck, please contact Craig ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) adding an investors reference and LinkedIn (or alternative business) profile.
For those of you who are interested in reading more about the event itself, please click the image below.
So these are the facts as they have presented themselves. We know we have kept you waiting (we couldn't really say much before knowing the final verdict on the shutter situation + having looked into the likeliness of making our own) and this news will surely disappoint many who are eagerly waiting. Be assured that this sentiment is shared by everyone working hard on this project. And while this is of course a setback, it is not a dead-end and we will continue our work to the best of our abilities and learn from our mistakes. Or in the words of someone wise and ancient; “Our greatest strength lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
As always, thank you for your continued trust and support,