Hello from Bolingbrook, Illinois!
Possibly the most exciting thing to happen to us today was that we actually had time to sit in a cafe for 3 hours and reply to email.
This evening's meetup was hosted by Raise.com in downtown Chicago. We spent a bit of time talking about the center connecting bar the Model 01 uses and how we're going to change it for production. The design we have right now uses keyhole style fasteners. Our original design had used a sliding bar mechanism that turned out to be very expensive to manufacture, so we went back to the drawing board.
What we came up with was a lot cheaper to make and promised to be almost as sturdy and almost as easy to use. The first prototype we built with the new center bar mechanism fit perfectly. It was fantastic. When we made 20, we discovered that sometimes it was too loose, sometimes it was too tight and sometimes it...just didn't work. But that's why you prototype. We'll likely be going back to a variant of the more expensive slide-bar design.
We were also at at O'Reilly's SolidCon in San Francisco today! Well, we were there in spirit and the Model 01 was there for real. Autodesk had a Model 01 on display at their booth, right next to a robotic arm made by our friends at Modbot. We first met Adam and Daniel, the guys behind Modbot, at Highway1, the hardware accelerator we went through together last spring. They worked at the table next to us and had, by far, the coolest, scariest toys (like robot arms with pincers on them) and the slickest presentations of any team in our cohort. Later, we ended up sharing a big warehouse livingspace with them, Sara from Jewelbots and the wonderful Texan guys behind Peeple.
We've been told that Ryan Vinyard also used us as an example in his talk on prototyping. Ryan runs the engineering side of the house at Highway1. He comes from a mechanical engineering background and going into the HW1 program, we had approximately...zero mechanical engineering knowledge or skill. Ryan helped shepherd us from this
Highway1 accepts about a dozen teams into their four month program a few times a year. They're looking for companies that have a functional prototype and a functional founding team, ideally with a mix of business and engineering skills. In exchange for a small percentage of your company, they give you a slug of cash, a crash course in manufacturing and design for manufacturing, pitch coaching, access to a network of advisors, a space to work for four months, and a trip to China to see how Shenzhen works. They cap it all off with a demo day for press and potential investors at the end of the program.
For us, the most important part of the program was that we got to spent four months working in close proximity to a bunch of other amazing startups who had different skills and resources than we did. When we needed a weird component or some electrical design review, there was someone on another team who hooked us up or helped us out. When the Modbot guys needed six of a particular variety of Arduino, we had six in our drawer. Come to think of it, they never gave those Arduinos back, but we're not about to try to pry them out of that scary robot arm.
One of the things Highway1 seems to be pretty good at is getting teams set up for success at crowdfunding. Navdy, Ringly, Podo, Lumo Play, Cinder, Flic, and others we're sure we're forgetting have all done well on Kickstarter, Indiegogo or self-hosted crowdfunding sites after Highway1. Right now, the only Highway1 team on Kickstarter other than us are the guys from Peeple.
Peeple is a a cloud-based, picture-voicemail system for your front door. Their campaign is wrapping up in about a day and a half. It's worth checking out.
As of this moment, 1063 of you have pledged $325,237. We crossed over the $325k mark while writing this update.
Today, we drove 207 miles, bringing the roadtrip total to 2605. Our "get an oil change" light just came on.
Tomorrow, we're in St Louis at Arch Reactor: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/meet-the-keyboardio-model-01-saint-louis-at-arch-reactor-tickets-17315976552
Friday, we get our first day off since the campaign started.