Shipping a quality device is by far the hardest part of building a hardware company. I’m not even talking about the extra work it takes to deliver an amazing customer experience. I’m just referring to a product that doesn’t break, feels great when you use it, and delivers on the promise. Not just once either, but multiple times over, across thousands of units.
To put hardware life into perspective, a Contour camera has over 200 parts inside. That’s over 200 opportunities to make a product that is misaligned, loose, or dead on arrival. Tested by hand, you don’t even get the 100% guarantee of knowing your device will last for the hundreds of hours you promise, until enough customers tell you it does.
The unfair advantage that hardware startups face is that every consumer has an Apple product in their pocket. Comparing your crooked and under polished device to a product that required an army to build it. Managing a single Apple factory line with more people than your entire company.
To make matters worse, consumers don’t give a shit about how small you are, how hard your product is to build, or that you are running out of money. All they really care is that they paid you and now they expect your product to not only deliver on the promise you offered, but surpass it.
I still remember the first VholdR camera that came off the production line. Envisioning that it would be as beautiful as an Apple device, my heart dropped into my stomach when I realized we weren’t even close. The switches were loose, the rotating lens wouldn’t lock into place, and the back door didn’t “click” when you shut it. Yes, it was an action camera, but it didn’t carry the craftsmanship I had been dreaming about.
Running out of cash, we had few options. Ship and stay in business. Don’t ship and go bankrupt.
We fixed as much as we could and we shipped.