Over $8 mil to date, roughly 3,000 units sold… and 15 days yet to go, is there any chance that GF will cap sales to meet production and shipping hurdles? Seems like a lot of pressure for a start-up, but I guess they’re thinking it’s a good problem to have. I have a lot of faith in this project and love Dan’s passion and enthusiasm, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I have a few concerns. My hope is that quality and timely shipping isn’t sacrificed for the sake of the money right out of the gate. Any thoughts on this out there?
8 meeeeeelion dollars in 15 days… to quote Mia Wallace, “I said goddamn!!”.
A number of folks are voicing concern, so I feel maybe I should be concerned on some level (I don’t know why tho - maybe it’s a sheeple thing), but I’m not. I would certainly like to get it sooner than later, but my calm lies in the fact that people are so confident in this that they have been willing to shell out 8 million dollars to make it happen. Confident that this group will deliver, confident that if things go South - it will be made right, confident that I won’t be waiting until 2017 to see this machine… mostly because 8 million dollars is a lot of money to throw at something, as far as production goes. Yes, I am a zealot when it comes to GF and have been defending it all over the internet, but I am part of a 40 year longitudinal study that says I have great instincts, and I’m feeling zero red flags here. So those are MY thoughts…
Worth remembering that Dan has said a number of times that the Glowforge itself is a pretty simple device - or as simple as it can be - the smarts are in the Cloud, so the advantage of that is that the design is already nailed down and will be more easily scalable for large orders and will be based on commonly available tech. We already know that the plastic is close to final and we’ve seen a number of vids of a very polished looking hardware cut and engrave stuff, so my two pennies are don’t panic - start designing stuff to print!
We’re lucky to have a lot of hardware experience on the team. I’ll tell you how we think about the risks ahead.
- Getting one machine “ready to ship” is very hard. We’re going to do it, but we’re going to hit challenges along the way. We’ve solved the problems we know about, but testing and productization will discover new ones.
- I put “ready to ship” in quotes in the previous bullet because once you think it’s ship ready, you give it to customers, and they break it. A lot. In unexpected ways. Then you have to really make it ship ready. That can be hard, or easy, depending on the problems found.
- Once you really have it ship ready, you have to figure out how to manufacture. (this is a simplification - we’ve been designing for manufacturing for a long time, but bear with me). There are sort of categories in manufacturing: hand build, small batch, full production, mass production. If you are prepared for one and you have to move up a category, that is where you get wrecked. When people talk about unexpected success killing projects, this is usually why. This isn’t a big risk for us; we already planned for full production (thousands) and we’re nowhere close to mass production (millions). We’re still at the point where increasing our order from our plan isn’t a big mess. The only real issue with this is component sourcing; we’re working on buttoning that up now for some of our esoteric parts (you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find good high-voltage wiring, and we didn’t secure sources for the quantities we now need).
- Once you’re manufacturing, you have to troubleshoot problems that arise. We’ll get this done. Mark, my cofounder, is very good at it and hires good people to help.
- Once you ship, there can be unfound (or found and decided to ignore… not cool) problems that cause repairs and recalls. Everyone’s heard of cases like this. We’re going to be maniacal about quality up front, even at risk of delaying, to keep this from happening to us (and you).
Does making 5x as many machines as we planned worry me? No, because once lines are running at full production, they move pretty fast.
Am I worried that we hit problems and run out of money? No, because we raised $9 million to operate the company for ~2 years before we took preorders (so, separate from the total on our home page). And based on the preorders, we have access to further financing options (like, banks and investors are asking us to take their money).
Am I worried that we discover problems that delay shipments? Yes, I wake up worrying about that every day. It’s the #1 risk. We have a solid plan to get full production in place so every machine ships before August next year… but there are a hundred ways that could go south, and not all of them have solutions before August. I can’t promise you we can hit that date, but I can make sure we keep you updated about how it’s going.
Second biggest risk is that some feature that worked great in the lab doesn’t get production-quality in time to ship. That might be true for some features of the software, but we can fix those with realtime updates. The painful thing is if we had some hardware feature that wasn’t working up to snuff, and we had to decide between delay and removing it. If that happened, we’d let everyone know, and offer full refunds to anyone who felt like they weren’t going to get their money’s worth.
This is risk you should be prepared for: delays, some feature changes (I guarantee some will be for better but there may be some for worse), honest communication, and the best product we can build you.
BTW, as with most things I talk about, I’m not a domain expert so actual experts are welcome to correct terminology and errors. I know just enough to hire smart people who know more than I do, and mostly keep up when they ELI5.
I love the fact that you are so open and transparent with your thoughts and process… I guess the excitement to get this machine in my hands has my brain working overtime. I’m a “@dan Fan” and have been sold on the product ever since I saw your first video about GF. Cheers!
This is exactly how every business owner should communicate. Dan, you (and the glowforge team) give me hope. In the coming months, no matter how inpatient some of us get, know that it’s only that we are so eager to unleash all this creative enegry and inspiration out into the world. You showed us the magic that can be made with a laser cutter, and found a way to make it kinda idiot-proof for us. I really feel like this is the begining of a new kind of industrial revolution, and the glowforge team may be it’s founders.
Thanks so much! We’re excited to get this in all of your hands… I hope your prediction comes true!
While I was hoping to have my machine next month, it was b/c I wanted to prove to you that I could make things on a Glowforge b/c I really want to work with you. I don’t live in Seattle, which could be an issue, but I have been in communication with Kira and with you, and I feel you’ve expressed interest in working with me.
I really could use the money since well– I just spent thousands of dollars on your product and I am having a hard time getting a job b/c I am disabled. I know you want to hire “diversity people”… and that I’m not the only person who probably wants to work for you… and I would rather get a working product later, than a “disfunctional” one now, but I am currently developing designs for your catalog, and I was hoping to get them made by the holidays on one of your machines, so that I could prove to you that I can be a valuable member of your design team. Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).