A Mighty Second Wind
Last time we wrote, we told you that we were looking for an additional firmware/software developer. Despite getting quotes from around a dozen different very capable developers (found by us and you, thanks for all your recommendations!), we have as of yet been unable to bring someone onboard. This is due to the fact that most of the people we got in touch with couldn’t start until January, which means that by the time they were brought up to speed, the time saved would be minimal compared to the added complexity and cost of bringing someone onboard. Also, as you’ve probably noticed, we’re smack in the middle of the holiday season now, which only worsens the prospects for efficiency.
We continue to search for a new developer or any way to speed subsets of the code development. In the meantime, our current man will continue to make progress.
On another note, we view it as a requirement that we seek UL certification for all machines, and this must consequently be incorporated into our pre-shipment timeline. All machines that we ship out will meet UL guidelines for electrical safety (yay!). To make this process as quick and painless as possible, and at the recommendation of our assembly house, we’re enlisting the help of a UL consultant, who will look at our first complete units and tell us whether anything needs to be changed before we ship them off to UL.
Which brings us to our next order of business: a new timeline.
But why should I have any confidence in this timeline? Monsieurs, you have betrayed me before! J’accuse!
This road toward the world’s most awesome home espresso machine has had its fair share of bumps, potholes, falling rocks, blind corners and gravelly patches. At this point, we all want assurance that the finish line isn’t just an ever-receding horizon.
To say we’ve learned a lot about engineering, design, manufacturing, marketing and customer service is...well...an understatement so extreme as to be laughable. But we’ve also learned some more general life lessons. Example: Over-promising deadlines and underestimating a project’s complexity has the unfortunate side effect of persistent anxiety and the guilty feeling of having let everyone down. For this group of like-minded espresso lovers (that’s us, but also you), this has been an arduous journey. But a happy ending is in sight!
When we conceived of this project 11 months ago, we thought - perhaps *coughdefinitelycough* naïvely - that our collective drive, intellect, passion and work ethic would prevail over any market forces and logistical hiccups we confronted. Once our blow-out Kickstarter funding was in place, we began to discover - and are still discovering - that our parts and service suppliers didn’t always have like priorities, and that redesigning from the ground up for optimized manufacturing is no small task. We were lacking in the specific experience that would have turned early roadblocks into warning signs and action plans sooner, and have been left playing catch-up for months.
As a function of our learning curve, we’ve brought on a board of advisors to help ensure the success of this project. This Advisory Board encompasses outside seasoned, entrepreneurial executives in finance, manufacturing, and small appliance sales, marketing and customer service - including one of our esteemed Kickstarter backers!
These non-whippersnappers have rolled up their sleeves to aid and guide us through this process of successfully navigating the tempestuous seas of manufacturing to deliver high-quality machines. They are also helping us think ahead toward developing the various support networks that will help us provide continued support and service to our Kickstarter backers, beyond initial receipt of your machines. They have helped us develop the below timeline according to goals they think are achievable, based on their past manufacturing experience.
Up until now we’ve posted about all of our major developments, challenges and progress. With the following timeline, we’re attempting to bring all of that together in a consolidated plan to reach the finish line.
With all that said, we now believe that our initial production of machines will not occur until April 2013, with shipments occurring from late April to early June 2013. This is based on what we are observing with the current slowed progress of the programming, and is meant to provide for possible delays during UL testing and life testing on the units.
We want to assure you of a few things as we lay out our plan for the remainder of the project.
First, the pledges you’ve made as backers and first purchasers of this fantastic machine are 100% safe and accounted for. We are not at risk of running our well dry and leaving everyone...uh...thirsty. We think that it’s important that any worries you might have on that front be assuaged. You will be getting your life-giving brew machine, but it will be late(r).
The misunderestimation applies only to the project’s complexities, not to its feasibility, mostly as they relate to the time required for manufacturing and programming, government regulatory testing and the procurement and confirmation of the high-quality components necessary to deliver a machine that will delight your expectations. Most of these delays have manifested themselves in the last 45 – 60 days. The purpose of this update is to give you a new perspective, an action plan and a revised timeline.
Kickstarter’s original backers absolutely remain our first and prioritized customers. You’ve invested in us, and we report - first and foremost - to you.
We know that this delay is as disappointing to you as it is to us. We all sincerely apologize, but we are committed to delivering on the original promise of a badass, high-performance machine at a great value.
A list of the critical timeline steps we are following is below. These target dates are the result of consultation with our advisors and with the various manufacturers and designers whose contributions to the project are still outstanding. Ongoing updates will continue and report against these steps.
Interestingly, this is putting us pretty precisely on par with the other Kickstarter projects to which we’ve been silently comparing ourselves.
You know where to find us!