Author Topic: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead  (Read 1709 times)

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Online blueskull

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The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« on: February 23, 2017, 10:37:18 AM »
I received this today. I guess my $179 is down the drain.
They managed to ship some 4100 units, but user reported there are some bugs that they cannot fix.
The team has been dismissed, software and hardware are left to be optimized, even shipping money is running short.

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Hi Everyone,

If you have followed us these past couple of years, then you have witnessed the struggles of entrepreneurship. The ups and downs. The highs and lows. The exciting victories, and the painful losses. You have seen that starting a company is a perilous journey, where success is the exception, not the rule.

Today we have some regretful news to share. Just when it seemed we had finally made it, we have once again found ourselves in a difficult situation.

 
What Happened?

It’s a long story, but it’s all out there in the updates.

We started as a trio of starry-eyed first-time entrepreneurs. With your support, we set out to change the world. Our mission was grand: to build the ultimate prototyping tool and empower everyday innovators around the world. We set off with a bang, and with blind optimism, we jumped head-first into manufacturing. It felt like we had it all figured out…

Except, we didn’t. We had no idea how difficult it would be to go from a prototype to mass production.We learned along the way, but most mistakes were costly and irreversible. Our greatest mistake was committing to inventory too soon. We didn’t realize it at first, but by ordering components in bulk, we had backed ourselves into a corner. Design flaws appeared, and we were trapped. By the time we understood our predicament, it was already too late. We were in too deep, and there was no turning back. Our cheerful mission to empower innovators had become a struggle to survive.

Despite the year and a half of hardware and software setbacks, manufacturing challenges, repeated delays, regulatory hurdles, unending certification requirements, unplanned operating expenses, logistical nightmares, sleepless nights, strained relationships, frustrated suppliers, a disgruntled community, new competitors, and a jaded industry, we simply refused to give up. Day after day, we kept fighting with all our hearts. Evenings. Weekends. More engineers. More developers. More prototypes. More testing. Nothing was ever enough. We did everything we could to turn this around, but by November 2016, we were at a breaking point. With resources running thin, and options running out, we prepared for one final push. We believed software improvements could solve the remaining technical issues, and that pre-orders could solve our financial ones. It was our big chance to get back on our feet.

We gave it everything we had, and we made great progress, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Software had improved, but not enough. Same with hardware and quality control. Pre-orders streamed in, but they too were just not enough. We were right at the finish line, and yet, we were miles away.

 
How Far Did You Get?

We developed the software, finalized the hardware, and manufactured 16,000+ sets of (almost) every component. We managed to ship a little over 4100 finished printers. The first hundred went to early-bird backers, and the rest were spread across three large batches. One to Canada, two to the United States. Europe was next, but feedback suggested the software was not ready, the hardware still needed work, and we no longer had the resources to assemble/ship further batches.

There’s also a myth that we bought/built an entire factory. It’s based on the ambiguous wording of a previous update. The fact is, we simply rented a space for assembly. We later backed out because of registration issues, but were allowed to stay in the free space we had before.

 
What Is the Status Now?

By early January, we had no choice but to lay off our team and wind down operations. It was the hardest thing we had ever done. Despite the team’s incredible effort and dedication, their sacrifice and their faith, we simply could not afford their salaries. We had to let them go. We asked everyone to organize and document their work, and with heavy hearts, we wished them farewell. Everything is now in “hibernation mode”. Frozen, but well documented and ready to resume at a moment’s notice.

Meanwhile, in China, operations have slowed to a crawl. We continue to run small-scale tests to show that hardware can be improved, and we do our best to fulfill warranty requests, however we are no longer in production. Most of the components are sitting there in boxes, but we lack the resources to purchase the remaining few, or to assemble/ship full batches of finished printers.

We have also cancelled all pre-orders. We deeply appreciate their patronage, but the risk is now too high. We must return our focus to fulfilling Kickstarter rewards before making promises to anyone else.

Basically, the company is now on standby while we pursue ways to get back on track.

 
So, Is Tiko Dead?

No, at least, not yet. We made countless mistakes, and we are now in a tough place, but it doesn’t mean that everything we built is suddenly worthless.

The cost of 3D printers has dropped significantly since our campaign launched. Now that this price war (aka race to the bottom) is nearing its end, we have asked ourselves: What is the next frontier? Where will this industry go next?

Well, we have our theories, and we believe that Tiko as a platform is exceptionally well positioned for this future. Granted, these technologies need some re-engineering, more testing, and much better execution, but the potential is still there. It turns out there are people who feel the same way...
 
What Are You Doing To Fix This?

We are doing something we should have done a long time ago. We are speaking with investors.

Up until now, we have been on our own. We believed investors would get in the way, but that was immature. It’s time to put that thinking behind us, and start working with people who have the resources and experience to manufacture a product at this scale, and build a sustainable business.

We are already well into discussions with a number of interested investors. They are fully aware of our situation, but see our vision for the industry, and the roadmap for our technologies. They understand the challenges, but also recognize the potential for a bright future.

Of course, these discussions cannot be rushed. It’s a lengthy process, and it could take months for us to reach something conclusive. We’ll update you on this once we have something definitive.

 
Why Didn’t You Tell Us Sooner?

Keeping technologies private is one thing, but this is entirely different. It’s an incredibly heavy burden to bear, and holding back was not easy. Unfortunately, many investors value discretion, especially in the early stages of discussion. The headlines of our failure would hurt the odds of reaching a deal, so we did what was best for the project and kept quiet. It’s all out in the open now, but we’ve already made good progress, so it might not be a dealbreaker.

 
What If Investment Falls Through?

There are other roadmaps for how we could proceed. Some position us for a slow recovery, while others involve a gradual wind down. Either way, we feel that you should have a say in all this. Over the coming weeks, we will be in the comments section to collaborate on a variety of ideas. Everyone is welcome to participate, and we hope you will join us as we work together to define the next chapter of the Tiko story.

 
Can I Get a Refund?

No. If we cannot refund everyone, then it is unfair to refund anyone. Our priority is still the successful delivery of all Kickstarter rewards, and the remaining funds will be used for the turnaround effort, in line with Kickstarter’s Terms of Use.

 
Final Thoughts

Starting a company is a fight against the odds, and a journey into the unknown. Just when you think you have it all figured out, reality comes in and hits you in the gut. We climbed to the top, then fell off and hit every branch on the way down. We’re sorry we disappointed you. You believed in us, and we let you down. It hurts like hell... but this isn’t over yet.

We know you're tired. We are too. The thing is, we still love what we do. We still have our vision, our passion, and perhaps even our future. These are tough times, but we haven’t given up yet, and we hope you won’t either.

Thank you for supporting us at our highest heights, and our lowest lows. We may be down, but as long as you believe in us, we will never be out.

We’ll be in touch,

Team Tiko
SIGSEGV is inevitable if you try to talk more than you know.
 

Offline julianhigginson

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2017, 10:52:54 AM »
noobs...

Maybe they should have used some of that 3 million to hire someone with actual product design and manufacturing experience instead of thinking it was all going to be about UX and industrial design?
 
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2017, 11:01:35 AM »
So what happens to the "manufactured 16,000+ sets of (almost) every component" ?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2017, 11:16:11 AM »
Trap for young players:
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We believed software improvements could solve the remaining technical issues, and that pre-orders could solve our financial ones. It was our big chance to get back on our feet.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tiko3d/tiko-the-unibody-3d-printer/posts/1809879
 

Offline Cupcakus

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2017, 01:05:43 PM »
I feel like kickstarter is supposed to help you kick start your idea, not be a platform to pre sell tens of thousands of units for a thing you have no idea how to manufacture in quantity.  It is possible to limit the rewards for your kickstarter, then focus on manufacturing 500 of something and not 20,000.
 

Offline tesla500

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2017, 05:54:08 PM »
Trap for young players:
Quote
We believed software improvements could solve the remaining technical issues, and that pre-orders could solve our financial ones. It was our big chance to get back on our feet.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tiko3d/tiko-the-unibody-3d-printer/posts/1809879

This is exactly why I launched the Chronos 1.4 high-speed camera Kickstarter nearly 2 years after having the first "working hardware". Software fixes can work wonders sometimes, but they can't fix fundamental flaws. Immediately making 16,000 of something like they did was a very bad idea. On mine, I did a staged batch build (24 cameras for earlybird, then the rest in the next batch), which means that if the entire first batch ended up bad for some reason, it wouldn't sink the project, just cause a delay. That's one of the reasons to do earlybird rewards with a decent gap between earlybird and regular reward shipments.

Still, I've always thought there should be a mandatory course in EE programs where they give you hardware that doesn't work and tell you to fix it in software. Very valuable experience that almost everyone has to do at some point.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2017, 05:59:31 PM by tesla500 »
 
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Offline Assafl

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2017, 06:11:49 PM »
This seemed to be basic business - of not committing to a full batch of 16,000 units of a beta product (commit to 20, then 100, then 1000, then...). At least they did not fail like others on Kickstarter who seem to think software or electronics can fix physics (such as unhip conservation of energy or the uncouth limited energy density of electro-chemistry, or as if a uA741, given the right topology - can hover).

It is a sad day when a legitimate business fails. If they delivered 4000+ machines (25% of commit) it means that with a bit more care or cash - they would have grazed the ground instead of crashing into it.
 

Offline george graves

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2017, 06:42:03 PM »
Well, at least this one was ended with "We wish we had done better" and some sorrow - even it it's for show.  I don't know.

Trap for young players:

Where are the gray beards on this forum to remind Dave he IS a young player?   :-+

Offline pix3l

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2017, 06:59:47 PM »
Shame to hear that! The story is almost as sad as the one of the peachy printer:
 

Offline Assafl

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2017, 08:55:12 PM »
Well, at least this one was ended with "We wish we had done better" and some sorrow - even it it's for show.  I don't know.

For show? Show is usually when someone runs away with the money and then sheds crocodile tears.

I - personally - have never met an entrepreneur that was jovial when closing down (or at the brink of closing down) a business. And cannot imagine having worked for years on a product to watch it all wither away.

(from personal experience - I was nearing bankruptcy in March 2001 - no money to pay salary and the board of directors did not allow us to shut down as we had an investor ready to invest. The investment happened. But before it did it was the single longest month of my life. I did not sleep - when I did sleep it was awful - Lurid dreams of how was I going to fire everyone - and go back to employment as a failure - failing myself, my investors, customers, etc. - so no - It would not have been a "show" had it happened)   
 

Offline Dubbie

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2017, 09:09:54 PM »
I suspect that they fell into the trap of thinking a nice 3D render of a complete machine meant they were at the 80% done mark.

The rest is just assembling parts and flashing the firmware right?   ......right?


Sent from my phone using Tapatalk
 

Offline DC5AJ

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2017, 11:45:56 PM »
In my opinion as an entrepreneur and even as a hobbyist one has to learn when to stop and abandon a project. This printer has clearly become a rabbit hole to hell, from the get go they had problems after problems. Just thinking that you can fix something is not enough, in the end you have to deliver and proof  that you actually fixed the issues and that the thing can perform as promised. They failed, pissed 3 million down the drain, they must be totaly deluded.

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We are doing something we should have done a long time ago. We are speaking with investors.

Wrong, instead of pissing more money away, they should  hired someone with expertise in product design / bringing it to marked a long time ago.

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Up until now, we have been on our own. We believed investors would get in the way, but that was immature. It’s time to put that thinking behind us, and start working with people who have the resources and experience to manufacture a product at this scale, and build a sustainable business.

Next season on shark tank: Tiko asking for money and people that do all the work.

Quote
Well, we have our theories, and we believe that Tiko as a platform is exceptionally well positioned for this future. Granted, these technologies need some re-engineering, more testing, and much better execution, but the potential is still there. It turns out there are people who feel the same way...

Again, totally deluded, exceptionally well positioned for this future ? Not a working product, no money left, staff laid off. Some re-engineering, reality is if they can convince someone to invest in this mess, they have to start from scratch...

BTW found this in the comment section, seems that there is a Xiaomi ripp off version
 

Offline Galenbo

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2017, 09:04:50 PM »
noobs...

Maybe they should have used some of that 3 million to hire someone with actual product design and manufacturing experience instead of thinking it was all going to be about UX and industrial design?

The whole campaign isn't about a product, it's about marketing and promotion.

The "team" I would fund/back/pledge, has:
-a series of +20 ugly minimalistic prototypes.
-built their first machine +5 years ago.
-Cad drawings on their site.

The team should have no:
+10K euro video
-perfectly gender balanced multicultural actor distribution.
-rented Rigol on the bench without probes, cables etc

Is the a place where I can bet on those Movie Maker's stories ?
Being professional is making money while showing less dedication than a hobbyist.
 
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2017, 10:20:23 PM »
Shame to hear that! The story is almost as sad as the one of the peachy printer:

That Peachy thing was one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen go down, like  :wtf:
 

Offline Fraser

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Re: The unibody 3D printer, Tiko, is almost dead
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2017, 11:17:45 PM »
Wow, just watched that Peacy video. It was like some smooth commercial !

Never seen or heard of anything like it ! That emotive music in the background and the presenters 'sincerity'. Someone trying to distance himself from a mess me thinks.

Fraser
 


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