Manufacturing the Pavlok: What Went Right, What Went Wrong, Shipping Timeline
Hey all — this is Maneesh Sethi, CEO of Pavlok writing today. This is an important update about our failures, so it is extremely important to me that I write it myself. I want to clear up some of the questions about Pavlok — including your biggest one, when will it arrive?
When we launched this project we had two major deadlines:
- start shipping Prototype units in January, 2015 (we’ve already shipped ~400, with another 200 going out this week)
- start shipping the final Production unit in April/May, 2015 (international in June)
We are going to miss the May deadline. We know that sucks, but we want to make sure we deliver the best product to you. Hardware is really hard, and rushed hardware isn’t worth its weight in BOM. Rest assured, we are going to ship you your product. And now we are closer to an accurate, final ship date.
When will Pavlok ship?
- US orders will ship in July/August 2015
- International orders will ship after those — ideally August (this depends on CE approval, possibly Sept).
The next section will explain in more detail what went right and what went wrong over the last few months.
What went wrong
- Building a company is hard. Like really hard. Pavlok isn’t just a shocking wristband. It’s also finding the right employees, negotiating with investors, designing packaging, managing suppliers (reliable and unreliable), writing documentation, safety testing, liability insurance, and lawyers lawyers lawyers. Every step of building a device is 10x more work in supporting services and structure.
- Our hardware progressed faster than our software. We already have hardware prototypes — over 400 on people’s wrists. Unfortunately, our software hasn’t been keeping pace. Our firmware (embedded code on the hardware device), smartphone app, and webapp are still in process. So many moving parts means that when one thing changes, everything else has to change as well.
- Prototypes / 3d-printing != Manufacturing. When we launched our IndieGogo campaign, we we working exclusively with 3d-printed prototypes. If you print something that doesn’t work, no big deal — you just fix the file and print it again. Unfortunately, manufacturing doesn’t work the same way. With real supply chains, you have to produce a full mold — which takes thousands of dollars and weeks of work. If there is a problem, you have to throw that mold away and start all over again. This is probably the biggest reason as to why we missed our deadline: New revisions of the Pavlok unit are measured in weeks/months, not hours.
- Building hardware is expensive — far more expensive than an IndieGogo campaign generates. Even Pebble had to raise money from VCs to fulfill the orders from their first $8M++ campaign. The most expensive part is people: our team is 11 full time employees working on electrical engineering, software, app development, design, mechanical engineering, sales, customer support, and more. If we had unlimited money (or raised a big round from VCs) we could have thrown money at the problem to speed up. Unfortunately, bootstrapping means we move slower.
- International safety testing. If all we had to do was deliver a shock we could wire up batteries to a couple of transistors and contact points and BOOM it would shock you. But delivering a safe, adjustable and consistent shock is more difficult. We need to make sure we meet safety standards here in the US as well as comply with a different set of standards in the E.U and other countries (about 40% of our IGG backers are international). The good news is that Pavlok is totally safe, and we are well under the threshold for maximum amperage. However working through the regulations has been one of the biggest delays and is why international orders will ship a month later than US orders.
What went Right
- Our software, while not complete, is going to be awesome. Prototype users have a beta app that can remotely make the device shock, vibrate and beep. The new app includes courses on the science of behavioral change, guided modules for changing specific habits, settings to customize the shock, and integrations for connecting your Pavlok to other hardware and software. We are also building a separate alarm clock app so you can set your Pavlok to go off at a specific time. The iOS apps will be ready for the launch of the Production Units and Android and web apps will follow soon after.
- API is almost ready. It works and we use it. We have a senior developer working out the last few bugs and adding a layer of security and then we will make this public. Here you can see some examples. Using Pavlok for productivity, and Using Pavlok for Inbox Zero.
- We are running live Q&A webinars. You have questions about Pavlok and we have answers! Check out a recording of the most recent webinar. We’ll be holding the next one next week, on Friday. We send invites to the Pavlok mailing list—sign up here if you haven’t already.
- We are holding a Hackathon. The event will take place here in Boston on May 16, 2015. Participants will have early access to the API to build their own integrations with the Pavlok device. Interested in participating? Join here.
That’s it. The truth is, most crowdfunding campaigns deliver late (84% says CNN) — usually by 6 months, a year, or more. And many crowdfunding campaigns never deliver at all. Ours is not like that.
You will get your Pavlok. In all honesty, if we had shipped on time, we would have been rushing to get you a sub-par product. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather ship you a product that functions flawlessly, rather than one that will break in a matter of weeks.
Below you can see the Pavlok modules. On the left is the prototype module, and the right is our first production-style module (not finalized or polished, but you see the style change).
That’s all for now.
CEO & Inventor of Pavlok
P.S: Have a question about Pavlok? Ask in the comments below and we will respond fast.