“Hardware is hard.” People love to throw that phrase around in Silicon Valley. I bet that if I had a nickel for every time someone said that phrase to me since starting Tinsel, we wouldn’t need to fundraise ever again. The hardware life is full of ups, downs and turnarounds, but Team Tinsel is a resourceful and determined group.
Let me cut to the quick: we’ve had some difficult challenges in the last few weeks and this update will report that there are further delays. We are now looking at October 2016. I’m really, REALLY torn up about it, and hate sharing this news because I was confident that the issues we discussed in our last updates could be resolved without major changes to the product.
I was wrong. We’ve had to make a big change to the process of how we fabricate the aluminum parts of the pendant, which takes more time and more money. Don’t worry, we are still making your Dipper(s). In fact, the factory is running a pilot with this new process right now, and once it’s done they’re committed to making a batch of units that we can ship out to you as quickly as possible.
That’s the summary. Want know the nitty gritty? Please, read on…
In my last update, I mentioned that Monia and I would be flying out to Shenzhen to settle some final issues with the product at the factory. When we arrived, we essentially discovered that die casting is killing the quality of the product. There is an extremely high defect rate, AND the most recent issues I talked about are unable to be resolved if we die cast vs CNC.
To recap, our big issues:
Metal Defects: A surface with indentations, holes, and bubbles.
Plating: The metal defects cause the plating to peel off like a bad sunburn.
Open/Close Experience: About as smooth as your first kiss -- we’ve broken chain links trying to get the chevrons open.
Glossy Finish: The T3 pendant was too matte for our shiny personalities.
Scratches: The matte finish looks like something the cat dragged in after 2 weeks of wear.
We’ve been square-peg-round-holing-it with these aluminum pieces since we went off-tool because we knew the cost of CNC was significantly higher and yields less pieces a day.
How could all this happen?
Well, 7 months ago -- when our team didn’t know as much about metal work in manufacturing as we do today -- we made the decision to die cast our pendant parts vs CNC because of the cost and yield rates. It seemed like a no-brainer at the time. We spent time and money on creating the tools, and after they were done, the first pieces to come off-tool in January (T0) were broken and unusable. But as the factory made further changes to the aluminum alloy type and tool modifications, we got closer and closer to what it was supposed to be. This was encouraging. This also took time. So to keep moving forward, we had to base our subsequent decisions for The Dipper off of samples with CNC pieces while the factory made modifications to the die cast parts.
Sidebar: Many of you have gathered that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Shine, don’t settle, right? I’ve fought hard to ensure that The Dipper is uncompromising in its details, but eventually one has to draw a line. That line was what kept us trudging forward with die casting the aluminum pendant parts. At the time, I felt that we could tolerate a little pain for the greater good.
Fast forward to June when Monia and I flew overseas. We arrived thinking that everything boiled down to a few small kinks to work out. We had received four Dipper samples (T3s) that were die cast when I gave the last update and felt like the green light was right in front of us.
But things came to an ugly head in China. The samples we had were the pick of the die cast litter -- in person we realized that the defect rate for the pieces was MUCH HIGHER than we were led to believe. So high that we’d need to likely throw away 1-2 bad pieces for every good piece we created. Terrible. Just awful. It’s unsustainable, wasteful, ugly, and expensive.
It became obvious to Monia and I that we must CNC The Dipper’s aluminum pieces. It’s the only way to get through all of the problems with The Dippers’ parts.
So how do we to fix this?
Cue the negotiations and timeline revisions. We’ve spent the last few weeks in negotiations with the factory WHILE ALSO taking the next steps to make your Dippers, even though the costs aren’t finalized.
We are committed to getting this beautiful product into your hands, even though the new cost is 1/3 more than originally planned. Due to increased costs and the fact that each Dipper must be hand assembled, we must produce smaller batches of the product at a time. We will also need to increase the retail price of the product (still TBD as we negotiate), though it will not affect our current backers and pre-orders.
We’ve already started prepping the knives needed to CNC The Dipper. The factory has been working tirelessly and even created a T4 sample this week, but unfortunately made design changes that set us back. They are now reverting to our originally approved design and working on a pilot run. Then it's time to make your Dippers!
So yes, hardware is hard. It is both a costly and a time-consuming venture. But our team will not be broken.
You all have been on this journey with us. So many of you have had our backs. You give us life. You keep us going at this each day. You are the best backers we could ask for. Thank you. I hope you can stick it out a bit longer and allow us to return the favor.
Founder & CEO, Tinsel