Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May 4th Update: Suppliers and Timetables

Good news, everyone!  We have made a lot of progress toward getting these mats to you.

The Supplier Situation

We have narrowed the field from literally hundreds of suppliers to down to three.  These few suppliers are letting us review samples right now.  Since they are both competing against each other, you can see how we might not want to show any pictures until we pick the one definite supplier we want.  It won't be long until we do pick, though. (Likely in the next two weeks.) Then we should be able to show samples and give more details.
We have also decided to work with domestic companies. That is, American companies. All our earlier delays were due to us personally trying to work with people overseas, and I think everyone can agree that those delays were not okay. 
These companies are sourcing a lot of their materials from overseas, though, and so we have a bit of a delay in getting our samples. For instance, the reason this update was delayed from being made on the 1st was because one of the samples arrived yesterday (the 3rd). 
Which brings us to the issue most people care about the most, the projected timetable!

The Projected Timetable

Please keep in mind that right now these are estimates, but they are realistic estimates.
Right now we are getting the samples perfected from each supplier.  Each round of samples takes about 2 weeks. As we narrow the field to one candidate, that number can get a bit more accurate, but right now, that's about the case. We anticipate going through two more rounds of samples before they get it just right. But we do anticipate getting it done just right, which is very exciting! 
Then, it would be about 30 days for an initial production run. This seems like the fastest road to getting everyone's orders fulfilled.  
After production, shipping from the factory to us (GameNightLife) would take about 30 days. 
Based on all that, it is possible that we could start shipping out by the end of August.  
This is pretty great for time, considering that we were just introduced to these suppliers less than a month ago. They see the potential for this product, and the other items we plan on making, so they are eager to form a good relationship right from the start.

Quality Check

Someone asked about what quality control steps we would be taking this time. 
First off, we are only working with American companies. That helps quite a bit. That means a more clear and enforceable contract, faster communication, and easier resolution of any problems. They see the potential for this product (and the others we have talked about), and so they are interested in making sure it is done correctly for a long-term relationship. Also, they have a lot more resources in place to take care of the problems that arise in their factories. 
For instance, they routinely train the people working on their assembly lines to be able to spot errors in products that are being made, and have comparisons on the spot to check every piece. 
Also, there will be frequent audits by a 3rd party inspection company during production, and a big inspection just before shipping. This inspection company is known for being rigidly difficult to please, and the factories know it.  This means that what we get will adhere to the specs we give. (We do plan on having video of that when we are in production, by the way!)
Furthermore, the factories we're going to be dealing with do stuff for much larger companies than ours (like Mattel). Those companies have such ridiculously tight parameters on their products that these factories are able to do extreme precision with their printing and engineering. (So, correct color and cuts won't be an issue for these factories!) 

Marker Erasing

Lastly, someone asked about the way erasing worked after not just days or weeks, but after *months* of being left on. Our original samples, that you saw in the Kickstarter videos, do manage to wipe off cleanly after months of being left on.  (For whatever reason, the color purple needed a little water to come off all the way, but it still erased cleanly.) The longest one we had was 6 months, and it wiped off cleanly.
That is amazing to us.
We're working to make sure that the same materials get used in these mats. (We don't just want to sell them, we want to use them, too!)

What is Next?

As always, progress will be tracked here on the blog.
We will put out official Kickstarter updates for major news, which hopefully will be coming much faster now that we are at this point in our relationship with the suppliers.
Because many people have asked, we figure it bears repeating here: If you want to change your address, or update what tiles you picked, just do it at the website where you took the replacement survey:  If you have any trouble, just ask; we will help. But it should be pretty automatic.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop us a line!  We will get back to you as soon as we are able.  
We'll try to answer any questions about this update in the comments.
We are finally getting there! We can't thank you enough, but we can certainly say it often, because we mean it: Thanks for backing us!