The Saga of Mellow

crowdfunding

#1

I’ve been around the block a few times when it comes to crowdfunding projects. I was thinking of doing something like this back before the Glowforges started shipping, to put things in context, but you know how hard it is to get around to things. Ironic. Anyway, I’ve crowdvested in enough projects that have either failed to deliver or are still stringing me along years later that I don’t even react when I get the latest “Exciting shipping update!” e-mail. I figured I’d start collating some of their stories. When you put the whole timeline together in one place, you have to laugh or cry.

So I present for your consideration, Episode 1: The Saga of Mellow. Subtitle: Yet Another Sous-Vide Device. What follows is all the e-mails I’ve received from them to date, heavily cut down to remove fluff, but not distorting or removing any relevant information. The things in brackets are my summaries or redactions. Please do take note of the dates as you go along. Enjoy!

2015-01-30 Mellow’s bringing new partners in

I’m very proud to tell you that we have been backed by Tandem Capital, Silicon Valley’s mobile acceleration fund, who just raised a $100 Million third fund. We’ve also brought on board some other great investors we’ll tell you about soon.
[nothing regarding shipping]

2015-03-15 Mellow keeps growing

Let’s start with some great news! We’'re happy to welcome David Schottenstein and Zalmi Duchman aboard as investors. You may have heard of these 2 businessmen, but in case you haven’t, here’s who they are and why their knowledge will be a huge asset for Mellow.
[Blah blah blah]

2015-04-21 Mellow Update #8

In manufacturing, volume is king. It’s counter-intuitive, but making 50,000 perfect copies of a complex machine is a lot easier than making 500. More volume means more people, better prices, and ultimately a higher quality good.
[nothing regarding shipping]

2015-06-11 Mellow’s back in business! Limited amount of units available.

After nearly a year of engineering research, design and optimization, we’re opening up the world’s smartest cooking appliance to pre-orders again.
[…]
Now, we’re gearing up for manufacturing and have a limited number of new Mellows available in our now larger first batch.
As one of our early supporters, you’ll receive one of the first Mellows off the line, we’ll only charge you when your Mellow is shipped and you’ll get an extra $50 off retail compared to our pre-order price.

2015-06-25 Mellow’s new explainer video - We’d love your opinion.
[nothing regarding shipping]

2015-07-02 First batch of Mellows almost sold out
[nothing regarding shipping]

2015-08-17 Mellow referrals reward goes up from $20 to $100!

As we get closer to manufacturing and shipping out our first batch, we’ve been ramping up our marketing to sell the second, the third, and so on.
[nothing regarding dates]

2015-10-20 New videos coming your way!
[nothing regarding shipping]

2015-12-24 Season’s greetings!

Over the last month or so, we’ve been tackling the issue of our tank’s material. [blah blah]

After our last update we were flooded with emails from concerned customers about our choice of a manufacturing partner. A lot of you wanted to make sure that we chose a manufacturer that treats its employees in an ethical fashion. We would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your concern and to let you all know that we share your opinions on this matter.
[nothing regarding shipping]

2016-03-16 Shipping update

When last we spoke, we were looking for the right manufacturing partner that would be the best fit for both us and Mellow. For the last two months we’ve been working with a great factory on getting through DVT and we’ve solved every problem we’ve taken on so far.

One of the biggest challenges we’re tackling now is Mellow’s water bath. Unfortunately, the molds to inject such a large, transparent, double walled part are extremely complex. Our current design is likely to deform right after we pull the parts out of their cavities. Fixing these issues is nothing that our team can’t handle. Unfortunately, it’ll take more time. To meet your quality standard and make sure Mellow performs and looks like the vision you pre-ordered, we’ll be delaying our delivery window until Fall 2016.

[various notes about tooling and testing and their excellent logistics partner]

2016-05-20 Mellow Update #14

[nothing regarding shipping]

We’ve also just gotten our hardware team back from a prolonged stay with our manufacturing and supply partners. Their trunks came back loaded with a new batch of pre-production prototypes, which are being tested and examined right now. These prototypes, will serve as component test-beds over the next few weeks.

2016-05-31 Where should we send your Mellow?

As we get closer to our shipping date, we’re reviewing all our customer information. Quite a few people did not fill out their shipping address, and we’re going to need it when we ship Mellow later this year. So, if you would be so kind as to give us an up-to-date address, just reply to this e-mail and we’ll add it to your customer file.

Also, starting this Friday, June 3rd, we will be charging your credit card. Of course, we’re taking off $50 off your pre-order, as promised. Our shipping date remains the same: Fall 2016. And you’re one of the first in line.

2016-06-06 Your payment has been received

[Credit card charged. Note 2016-06-11l statement “we’ll only charge you when your Mellow is shipped”.]

2016-09-17 Mellow Update #15 (shipping date)

We have a shipping date! Mellow will start shipping on November 28th. Pre-orders will be fulfilled in the same order as they were placed. Your pre-order is one of the first ever, so your unit will be one of the first to be shipped. From our manufacturing facilities to our logistic partners and then to your kitchen countertop, your Mellow will be on the move for about one month.

2016-09-30 Mellow Update #16

Same awesome tech, new look!
[description of how product differs from original prototype]

2016-11-23 Update #17

Hello *|FNAME|*!

We’re sad to say your Mellow won’t ship in time for the Holidays, but it is for good reason. Check out the video below for a word from our CEO.
[link to unavailable YouTube video]
We’ve made so much progress in the last few months. We want you to know we are working around the clock to make sure that you receive a beautifully crafted product that you love to cook with for a long time to come.

2017-01-30 Mellow Update #18

Mellow is on track for shipping Spring 2017. We’re scheduled to ship all orders placed before January 31st, 2017 by the end of April.

If you haven’t seen it in the press yet, I’m excited to finally be able to tell you that Mellow’s being built by one of the best manufacturers in the world, Flextronics. We’ve been working with Flex’s top teams in one of their jaw-dropping campuses and we couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve done together.

[press release about how great Flex is]

When will I get my Mellow?
Flex expects to ramp up to thousands of units produced per month in the first weeks of mass production. We’re shipping by pre-order date, so our first customers will get their unit first.
It’s early to say exactly when your Mellow will ship (that depends on external factors like how fast our manufacturing ramps up, how long it takes for customs to process our first batch and how quickly they’re expedited by our shipping company), but roughly speaking, If you pre-ordered before Summer 2016, your Mellow should ship by the end of March, and if you pre-ordered after, it should ship by the end of April. As soon as the first week’s worth of Mellow mass production is done, we’ll update you with a schedule of when your unit will be manufactured and delivered.

2017-04-03 Good News From Mellow!

My name is Gary Itenson and I am the new CEO at Mellow. Firstly, I want to sincerely apologize for our lack of communication over the past month and please know that this has been nothing more than new company growing pains. Over the last three months, we have perfected a product that we are sure you are going to love and finalized the production of Mellows in China.

Today we are very excited to announce that Mellows will be packaged and ready for shipment beginning the first week of May 2017. Based on our production schedule and transit time, the fulfillment of pre-orders will be completed by the second week of June. When you “Meet your Mellow” we will be enclosing a thank you gift which will include our custom bags, magnet system and more.

Equally important, we recognize that we have not done well communicating with you, our Customer. To remedy this, we have put in place a fantastic customer support team that will provide regular updates on when your smart sous-vide appliance will be on your doorstep and timely responses to your inquiries.

2017-04-26 Your Mellow shipping address is needed

To ensure we have your current shipping address and phone number, please click on the link below and let us know where we should send your Mellow (even if you’ve already emailed us previously).

Has anything changed since the last update you sent?
Nope! We are still on track to begin shipping the first week of May.

How are you picking who gets Mellow first?
We are shipping by order date, since that’s the most fair.

When will I know my Mellow will be shipped to me?
You will receive an email with a tracking number once your Mellow is about to ship.

2017-05-20 An update from Mellow

I want to thank you again for your patience in receiving your Mellow. We know it’s been a long wait, and it feels even longer to us.

The news. We have in transit our first production units and they have exceeded our expectations. Building Mellows to perfection has not been easy and we have 100% inspected and tested each unit to insure the best possible quality. Mellows will be processed on a first in, first out priority and customers will receive this first batch of units on and around June 1st.

What is next. Based on this first production run our manufacturing partner is making adjustments and improvements that will allow us to ramp more quickly. This is happening now and our second stage of production commences in about 10 days.

Based on this schedule more Mellows will be on the way soon, and pre-orders will be fulfilled gradually through the months of June and July. Our team will keep in touch with you as we get closer to shipping to you; to let you know specific dates as soon as they are available. We’ll also send you a form to fill out your shipping address (if we haven’t received it previously).

2017-06-15 Mellow Update for June

I’m so sorry for the delay in getting this email out to you. Some clients should have received Mellow by now, so please allow me to explain the hold up.

Upon receiving the first shipment of Mellow’s in the U.S., we immediately provided Mellows to a test panel consisting of pre-order clients, industry colleagues and consumer product testers.

We identified improvements that we are now correcting. Please keep in mind that Mellow is a new, smart appliance that we developed sophisticated software for to achieve the best Mellow experience. You have our commitment that every Mellow we ship will be held to the highest quality standard, but we kindly ask for your patience in order to achieve this.

In an effort not to give out more incorrect dates, we will continue to update you here as we progress. Your Mellow is not months away we can assure you this. Once ready, we will expedite shipping your Mellow. In the interim, I will follow-up with any additional information.

2017-08-15 Mellow Shipping Update

We continue to appreciate your support, and patience with us as we work hard to make sure you receive a perfect Mellow. As you know, we’ve had some hiccups along the way, but we’re excited to say that we’re entering the final stretch!

Along with our very capable manufacturing partner we have overcome our technical issues and pre-orders will begin shipping as early as next week! We expect to have all of our pre-orders delivered over the next 60 days.

You will receive an email from us when your unit is about one week away from shipping so you know when to expect your Mellow. Additionally, we’ll send you tracking information once your unit is out for delivery.

2017-09-26 Your Mellow is shipping soon!

We are so excited to let you know that your Mellow will be shipping soon! If you haven’t already, please download the Mellow App on the iOS App Store or on Google Play.


To be continued…


#2

Ah, so you’re a veteran of crowdfunding.


#3

The one that peeved me most was the Earl - a back country e-ink GPS/mapping tablet. The guy was forever talking about what was coming, his travails in China with the manufacturers, his latest venture to secure additional funding, apologies for not communicating, promises to communicate better (rinse & repeat those last two every three or four months) and then social media pics of him on Kilimanjaro and FB posts of him opening a new restaurant with his wife in Seattle. Lots of apologies followed by periods of radio silence and then more apologies until he fell off the face of the crowdfunding earth (but not the real earth as his FB postings showed).

The one I appreciated most was the Nuviz HUD for my motorcycle helmet. They ran into technical challenges, called off the thing about a year into it, refunded everyone’s money and then a year or so later came back & said - “hey we worked out the problems we hit, if you want back in we’ll honor your previous pledge and ship it next month” and they did :slight_smile:

You don’t have to be on time (I don’t expect anyone to be in the crowdfunding world to be on time) but you have to take care of your backers.


#4

I was once a backer and a contributor to the Kickstarter wundekind known as “Space Command”. By contributor I mean I worked on the darned thing for a bit, until I saw the 1st trailer… :unamused:


#5

Chuckle! I backed a crowdfunded movie once - I got it about five years after it was due, and it surprised me completely. I’d totally forgotten about it. (And it wasn’t particularly good either.)

Other than that…this is my first exposure to crowdfunding. (Not the first to bringing a new product to market, we get the results of that on a regular basis with our business, just to crowdfunding. It adds an interesting level of “oh holy crap” to an already complex situation.) :smile:


#6

Makes me very glad I did not give into the temptation to order a Mellow.


#7

Documentaries are the worst. I pull all my Kickstarters in a spreadsheet once and basically if it’s a documentary, it’s never going to get made.

I’m really sad about this one and this one and this one.


#8

Anyone remember the peachy printer saga? If not, Google it!


#9

Oh, I do.


#10

I’ve put a lot into crowdfunding the past couple years. I have tried to be careful what I’ve selected. Some have taken a while, but I’ve yet to have one fail to deliver. Of course, I have some outstanding, still, so that could happen. I just avoid movies, though.


#11

OOOhh, do one for the OLO 3d printer! I have been waiting on that one for awhile now! They just sent out a release that they are switching to communicating to the phone via bluetooth now, instead of the audio port… This is way after they made a bunch of machines, and delayed so many times.


#12

I love the idea of helping the little guy make their dream come true, I have supported a documentary film and legal battle against a national fast food company, a fun coloring book which I just got, a few other small projects and a 3d printer which I follow the emails - glad they don’t email often with updates.


#13

I really want the OLO 3D to succeed, but I’ll certainly wait until they ship before laying down real money,

They even have a resin for doing lost wax.


#14

Am currently in on the snapmaker printer… High hopes. Always hehe.


#16

Yeah I think OLO was ONO, it always amazes me why people don’t research names before branding. I had a company want to buy wholesale from us and when I looked them up somebody else owns the name so they need to go back to the drawing board


#17

So far I’m batting a 1000 - just waiting on a 3D scanner and a laser cutter to materialize to keep the record going. They were both funded in the fall of 2015 and will ship “soon”-ish-ly maybe.


#18

I have backed quite a few Kickstarters and Indigogo that were successful and not very late. I avoid any that haven’t already developed the product to a least proof of principal. There have been three exceptions. Two were calculated risks because they were not much money and they both failed completely. GF was an unwitting risk.


#19

10 Campaigns.

4 are still advancing, one of those apparently VERY close to shipping.

6 have shipped, 5 of those delivered, one expected this week per UPS.


#20

Whoa, Nuviz looks awesome. Not $700 awesome, but awesome.


#21

Only backed one crowd funding campaign because I typically like to touch everything before I buy.

Hasn’t been painless and not everyone will see it my way at this time, but looks like I’m getting more than my moneys worth. Hope most will feel that way eventually.

Edit: I take it back. Backed two other very small projects with little risk. Both delivered.