Update #08 - The final stretch
Sorry for the late update, lets get straight into it.
- “Cypress Umbrella” is now rebranded as “Hedgehog Umbrella”.
- All outstanding issues since the last update was 100% resolved, the final design was approved, and our suppliers received the green-light to start tooling.
- Due to overwhelming complexities in the supply chain, the team decided to partner with a leading umbrella contract manufacturer (CM) in China. All tooling and production would therefore be manufactured in China.
- All reward levels are readjusted, with The Classic Umbrella (Stick Umbrella) delayed indefinitely. (*** See below for details ***)
- An updated schedule with a delivery targeted for February 2017.
We wish to offer our utmost apology for what seems to be an endless delay on delivery. In the last 6 months we’ve had several opportunities to proceed with tooling. However we strongly believe that a delayed delivery of a stellar product is far more important than a mediocre product delivered on-time.
Delaying the production was not an easy decision for us, we too hope to begin production as soon as possible. The full time commitment means that for every day we delay production, we dive deeper into our personal savings to pay off day-to-day expenses. We made mistakes along the way, and admittedly underestimated the complexity behind the sophisticated art of umbrella design.
Nonetheless we genuinely believe we are on the home stretch with production just around the corner. All technical problems were resolved, a world class contract manufacturer was secured, and the tooling has been green-lit.
- Team Hedgehog
The backstory behind the name “Cypress Umbrella” was in reference to the Cypress Mountain in Vancouver, BC. However we noticed that people outside of Vancouver would commonly spell “Cypress” using its alternative spelling “Cyprus”. To avoid confusion and to create a lasting first impression, we’ve rebrand the product to be known as “Hedgehog Umbrella”.
Outstanding Issues Since Last Update
Since our last update, all technical and supply chain issues are fully resolved. The suppliers are on-board with the final design, and we felt comfortable enough to give them the green-light to start tooling.
The design change from a CNC Profile to a Solid Continuous Rod was primarily driven from the manufacturability standpoint. However as we dug deeper, we noticed many additional benefits from using Solid Continuous Rods.
The CNC Profile design, as explain from Update #15, requires over 2 hours of machining time per sheet. The cutting tool has a lifespan of less than 15 minutes, thus making it extremely unfeasible to be used in high volume manufacturing.
The Solid Carbon fiber Rods are manufactured from thousands of continuous carbon fiber strands bonded in a epoxy resin matrix. Unlike the cross weave carbon fiber sheets, each and every carbon strand is uninterrupted stretching from one rib joint to the next. This configuration allows the carbon strands to be used to its full potential, reducing areas of high stress concentration and preventing splits between weaves. The result is a slimmer, lighter, stiffer, and more durable rib assembly.
Production Moved to Contract Manufacturer in China
We relocated to the Waterloo Region of Ontario to be within steps from the manufacturing industry in Canada, and had an ultimate goal of manufacturing the Hedgehog Umbrella in Canada. After months of factory walks and hundreds of hand shakes, we’ve secured suppliers all around Southern Ontario for 95% of the components. The remaining 5% were for the Stem components, the only components that require custom machinery in which no Canadian or American supplier was interested in supplying at our quantities.
We therefore reached out to several specialized umbrella manufacturers in China, which gratefully supplied us custom Stem prototypes for testing. The intention was to select a Chinese supplier to supply the Stem components and source the remaining 95% of the components from our Canadian supply chain. Sadly, given our low quantities, the Chinese suppliers were only interested in a Contract Manufacturer (CM) type partnership. This type of partnership requires the supplier to assemble, inspect, package, and source all components through their supply chain; the final product would then be shipped directly to our distribution channel.
At this point, we realize that we do not have sufficient resources to manufacture in Canada. The only option to bring the Hedgehog Umbrella to market was through a CM Partnership with an established Chinese Umbrella Manufacturer. In search for a CM, we got our NDA (Non-disclosure Agreement) signed, apply for two business Visas, booked two flights, and setup back-to-back meetings with 10+ umbrella manufacturers in China.
Our three week scouting trip in China was a success and yielded us in-depth knowledge behind the umbrella industry. All the factories we visited were within the same region of highly established community of umbrella makers producing over 40% of the world's umbrellas. We visited some of the big players as well as the small players, and ultimately selected a world class supplier that works with some of the largest brands in the business. Our selected CM has been building umbrellas for over 25 years, and is well known in the industry for being specialized with “unusual requests”.
Our “unusual request” include the carbon fiber ribs, rib suspension system, interchangeable canopy, and custom rivets. Needless to say, the CM responded with a long silence followed by a confused reaction. In their company’s 25 years in business, nobody has walked in and asked for such high end materials and durable construction. The carbon fiber stock material for example cost 6x of fiberglass, 15x of steel, and 30x of aluminum… and we are using 30 pieces per umbrella! After many back and forth discussion, we explained our vision for a no-expense-spared umbrella, the CM eventually understood and complied.
The technical expertise and their sourcing team was also unbelievable. Take our custom rivets for example, the shank is solid ⌀2.2mm stainless steel compared to the industry standard hollow ⌀1mm brass. None of the rivet machines in the umbrella industry has the capacity to set the ⌀2.2mm stainless steel rivets. We therefore requested the CM to sourced custom rivet machines to be used exclusively to assemble the Hedgehog Umbrella.
The tooling available (at our budget) was also much more sophisticated compared to our Canadian suppliers. No feature was too complex to manufacture, the design was no longer compromised by the price of the tools. In conclusion we strongly believe that working with our Chinese CM would ultimately yield a superior product, which has been and always will be our number one priority.
Indefinite Delay of the Classic (Stick) Model
We are disappointed and it's in our deepest apologies to announce that the Classic Model (Stick Umbrella) would be delayed indefinitely. Our original intention was to design the Standard (Collapsible) and Classic (Stick) Umbrella to share 80% of the components minimizing tooling cost. After a year of experience in the industry, we concluded that forcefully sharing components would ultimately compromise the quality of the Classic Model. With an unlimited budget, we would not hesitate to start a new set of tools exclusively for the Classic Model. Unfortunately our limited funds is only sufficient to manufacture one set of tools for the Standard Model.
In return, every backer who selected a Classic Model (Stick) in their pledge will receive a Standard Model (Collapsible) instead. As this would be unfair for the backers who pledged for a Standard Model, every backer who selected a Standard Model will receive a $15USD/$20CAD gift card along with their existing reward. The gift card can be used on any item on our online store the moment we start shipping.
We take full responsibility for our mistake caused solely from our misjudgment, inexperience, and naivety. We understand the frustration some backers who wish to receive the Classic Model would be, but we can assure you that the Standard Model would be just as phenomenal.
We would soon be putting an order for the umbrella canopies as well to ensure we have material on hand. Please get your canopy colours selection before December 16. If you have not chosen any colours before then, you will get the top 2 colours in terms of popularity.
Also, if you’d like change your colours especially if your umbrella has been upgraded from the Classic to the Standard, please complete the survey again. Otherwise, we will use your colour selection from before and transfer it to the Standard model. You can find the all links for selecting your canopy colours listed below. We will only take the info from your latest survey selection for production.
Our CM is under contract to complete the Sample Tooling within 30 days and Production Tooling within 50 days. The tooling timeline was provided to us directly from the CM and they are under contract to pay a penalty if they miss the target. We will continue to monitor their progress, and subsequently pay them as they reach each and every milestone.
We are targeting production to start on Week 4 of 2017, packaged and shipped out to Canada the week after Chinese New Year. Once landed, we will distribute the Umbrellas from Canada as soon as possible.
Short Term Goals for upcoming 4 weeks
- Monitor and push supplier to complete tooling and enter production as soon as possible.
- Setup logistical details (Including product packaging).
Long Term Goals
- Prepare second trip to China to supervise production and perform final inspection.
- Ship assembled umbrellas to Canada.
- Distribute umbrellas to our amazing backers.
If there are any questions, please don’t hesitate and send us a private message. We aim to respond within 2-3 days.
Thanks again for all of your continued support! We are looking forward to delivering the Last Umbrella you will ever buy!
Q: I haven’t completed my colour select survey yet or I want to change my colours, where can I access the surveys?
A: Please select from the survey links below matching your pledge tier.
- Standard Umbrella x1 - https://goo.gl/forms/bkLmNopNx9Lgc9uD2
- Standard Umbrella x2 - https://goo.gl/forms/B0sr2Ec6VdjaXIiq1
- Standard Umbrella x4 - https://goo.gl/forms/jh6U2j4uRUrLKfPC3
Q: I still want a Classic Model Umbrella, what can I do?
A: We currently have no plans on putting the Classic Model in production. However if we were to expand our product line, the Classic Model would be the first to go back on the drawing board.
Q: Why does tooling take so long?
A: The timeline was given to us directly from our CM’s Sub-suppliers. Our CM is under contract to deliver the tooling within that timeframe. We will continue to push our CM to hopefully deliver ahead of time.
Q: What is the purpose of Sample Tooling, why can’t you go straight into the Production Tooling?
A: The Production Tooling are extremely expensive and has a long lead time. Our CM insisted that we start with the Sample Tooling to catch any bugs and ensure no mistakes would be done on the Production Tooling.
Q: Would I be getting the $15USD or the $20CAD gift card?
A: The $20CAD gift card would only be distributed to the Canadian backers, all other backers would receive the $15USD gift card.
Q: What can I buy with the $15USD/$20CAD gift card on your store?
A: We will have a selection of 10 canopy colours and patterns (and many more in the future) retailing at $12USD/$15CAD each. The $15USD/$20CAD gift card can also be used to discount the price of a standard Hedgehog Umbrella retailing at $99USD/$129CAD.
Q: Would the Umbrella feature “Cypress Umbrella” anywhere?
A: No, all branding on the umbrella would be featured as “Hedgehog Umbrella”.