So ... What Happened to Spring 2014?
So it’s been a while since I’ve had an update for you on our progress, and I wanted to address a question we’ve been hearing a lot lately. Namely, a lot of people have been asking us why we haven’t gone to Kickstarter or another crowdfunding platform yet, given that we originally said we wouldin Spring 2015.
To avoid falling into the purgatory of Kickstarter projects doomed to walk the plane of existence somewhere between actually being viable and dying out entirely,* we made the decision to be as far along as possible before seeking funding to ensure that we could actually deliver on our promises in a timely manner. Sure, we could probably seek crowdfunding tomorrow if we were cool shooting a product video by putting a fake cardboard NoJack on a bike and having someone shout “Woop! Woop! Woop!” off camera to simulate the alarm sounding, with the intention to “fix it in post” after the crowdfunding round.
Matthew Iman of The Oatmeal quipped about Kickstarter that, “…instead of paying money and getting a product you pay money and get enthusiastic emails about production delays for the next three years.” We didn’t want that to be us. So instead, we made the conscientious decision to go the harder route of actually building it out and testing it to make sure it’s a solid product that takes care of all of the contradictory engineering challenges that need solved.
But what are these contradictory engineering challenges I speak of? Well, NoJack needs to:
- Be sensitive enough to pick up on motion indicative of a theft, yet smart enough to ignore everyday jostling and movement (while also allowing the user to adjust the sensitivity depending on the conditions).
- Be easy to install and maintain while also being nearly impossible for a thief to quickly detach or break. Because, simply put, if it’s easy to destroy or detach then it’s no good and will not act as a deterrent.
- Be able to power the onboard components to sound the alarm and alert the user’s phone when needed, but without quickly draining the batteries or requiring a bulky battery pack.
- Have an outer casing that is water-proof, vibration-proof, and tamper-proof while still allowing the Bluetooth signals and sound from the alarm to travel through it.
It has to do all that while also:
- Looking good so that people will be proud to put one on everything from casual city bikes to high-end racers, and
- Making perfectly-blended margaritas every time to keep you refreshed while riding.
Ok, that last one might have to go, but you start to see the challenges we’re up against. Getting it just right means striking the optimal balance between performance, strength, power, and aesthetics. We’re not willing to compromise on any of them; which is why the initial prototyping has taken longer than expected. But we’re confident that once we’ve got this right we’ll be ready to seek funding with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the hard part is behind us.
Hardware is relatively new to all of us, so I would be lying if I said there haven’t been some unforeseen delays and setbacks. Have we optimistically miscalculated how long it would take to complete a hardware project of this magnitude? Yes. Have we made some mistakes and set some fires (some figurative, some literal) along the way? Yes. Have we accidentally unleashed a legion of unholy animal-human hybrids on the world? Ye … No. No, that last one wasn’t us.
But are we committed to doing whatever it takes to make NoJack the ideal antitheft solution we’ve always known it will be? Absolutely. And nothing will stop us in this; not technical hurdles, nor design revisions, hardware issues, or even an army of bloodthirsty half-man-half-alligator manimals (which, again, we totally had nothing to do with).
We’re just getting started.
*This article gives a great overview of some of the problems that other people have had after a round of successful crowdfunding.
Scott: “Is it a bike alarm yet?”
Ash: “Shut up.”
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