Fusion Guitars Reflections
As our team have reflected on the Fusion Guitar journey thus far, it’s important we share our insights and our learnings. This statement is to give our backers a summary of our actions over the past years and our plans for 2018. You will find below a summary of our story, our reflections, plans for 2018, Q&A for some common questions and ways to get in touch with us. Read on.
The Fusion Guitar was launched on Indiegogo in late 2015. We had a working prototype to present and we had just over 1000 backers pledge to receive a Fusion Guitar with a total of $491,328 in funds. This campaign validated the concept of the Fusion Guitar and discovered an audience that was hungry for this product. This validation launched the development of the product and got us started with funding. We released very optimistic shipping dates for 2016 as we were confident that the Fusion was “almost there” as we commenced Development.
As we started Development in early 2016 we discovered that there were many developmental problems with the product that became unpredictable, as many backers know we had to push out the release date while the team encountered developmental problems. As soon as the team got close to a design and model ready for manufacturing, we encountered another setback. At times it was sound and feedback related problems, or unreliable polymer molding, at other times it was materials sourcing for components or PCBa stability. It literally took us months to find the right neck and body supplier as a custom fit for the Fusion. While the deadlines came and went to ship to backers, we were not yet equipped to communicate effectively to you about expectations for release.
In mid 2016 our Indiegogo funding was almost depleted and the decision was made to secure additional investment funding to continue the project. By September 2016 we received an additional 1.7 million in external funding to complete development and release the Fusion Guitar. This came with the setup of an official board of directors and investment group along with a temporary Product development General Manager and Logistics expert. The team was growing and development pushing ahead.
Towards the end of 2016 we heard rumours of CITES regulations changing for rosewood Fusion Guitars, restricting the export processes for which we did not have receive full of knowledge until January 2017. We were able to ship 48 units out into Australia before the CITES restrictions came into place for production testing purposes. While we had optimistic deadlines for shipping to backers, we apologise for not being more transparent with the setbacks we faced and delays to ship. We set an unrealistic expectation for backers and for this we apologise.
By January 2017 the team had a better understanding of the CITES problem and our Logistics specialist began the process of applying to release units out of our manufacturer into the US and Australia. In parallel the development of the product continued, still solving complex problems with the product such as iPhone connectivity and MFi (Made for Apple) approval applications and other hardware problems. Fusion also started investing in customer service and communications by bringing on a community manager to help with communications and systems setup. We also developed the Fusion in Maple which included sample testing, development for production and more.
During the first quarter of 2017 we were getting closer and started setting up a fully operational manufacturing line and shipping processes. Again our team were challenged as it seemed as though when one technical problem with the product was solved another would crop up, causing us to release a deadline to our backers, only to have to change that deadline as another problem took us by surprise. We were eager to ship to backers and this again caused an unfair expectation for shipping, for this we again apologise. During this time we also received a small amount of funding to complete the project.
By the start of July we had fully validated the Fusion Guitar for manufacturing along with all QC processes tested and approved and we were confident that we can start shipping to backers. And we did exactly that, we started by shipping first to Australia in July, fulfilling more than 100 backers and then started shipping to the US in August. We also launched sales in August, partly due to the business’s requirement to secure more funding to ship a Fusion Guitar as our budget at this point could not meet the funds needed to manufacture, import and ship to every backer. At this point we were balancing shipments for backers and new customers up through to October shipping upwards of 300 units, and we were also seeking additional investment for shipping to backers,
In October we had to pause shipments to reserve a small amount of stock for sales until we secured the necessary funding to resume shipping to backers. During this time we were unclear about this situation to our backers, as again the timeline for receiving investment would constantly change and prevent us from providing a meaningful update. For this we sincerely apologise as we can see that this was not the correct way to keep our backer community informed. We’ve now secured some funding to start releasing units to the United States.
As the team reflects on this story, we are regretful for the expectation we’ve set to our backer community along the journey. A constant theme that comes up is the unknown, at times our team have faced and solved some truly unique, novel and unexpected problems, ranging from the product development, marketing, systems administration, legal and PR. We’re a small and dedicated team, we’ve made mistakes, faced many challenges, learned so much and have worked tirelessly to make the Fusion Guitar a reality. However, we understand that we should have set better expectations, been more transparent and responsive in our communications, and less optimistic with our with deadlines. Additionally, Launching the Fusion into the US market has taken up a considerable amount of our resources. For this we apologise and as a team we want to learn from this experience and bring some new initiatives into 2018.
2018 and Beyond
As we look to the new year, we’re excited to start shipping to US backers again, we estimate there are just over 200 black units outstanding. We’re planning to ship these units over the course of the first half of the year. We’re starting with 10 - 15 units at a time. We pledge to keep you posted on developments here.
As for International backers. We pledge that we will not commence commercial selling into your country until we fulfil all backers orders in your location. At present we only have customer support setup in the US. Shipping to international backers as we launch commercially into your country will ensure that you will be fully supported by our customer support team once you receive your Fusion Guitar. We will be updating you on our roll out plan in the new year.
We are also focusing more in 2018 on communicating with you and keeping you in the loop including the following;
- We’re pledging more frequent and transparent updates in 2017 (maximum 2 weeks between updates). Starting from mid January.
- We’re pledging a maximum wait time of 2 days to respond to backer enquiries, questions or comments.
- We’re pledging to connect and help our community as much as possible. We’ve now launched One to One sessions. If you have any questions about your order you can book a 15 minutes Skype or Google Hangout session anytime with us here - XX
- We’re pledging to process refunds for Indiegogo orders in no longer than one week. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about a refund and start the process.
We ask our backers to continue this journey with us, we invite you to join us as the business develops and grows and continues to ship to backers and we will update you accordingly along the way. Our marketing planning and strategic partnerships impact how many units we can ship to backers as driving growth in the business will also bring in further revenues. We ask that you continue to be patient (we know it’s hard!!). We’re here to help you in any way we can, so if you have any complaints or concerns please message us using the channels below.
Please see below for answers to a few commonly asked questions.
- What about colored guitar orders?
- We’re still planning to release colored Fusion Guitars, however we cannot state a plan for this at this time as we’re focusing on shipping black units. Colored units may become available late 2018. However we recommend that you request to receive a black Fusion Guitar, to receive it earlier. To discuss, please email us at email@example.com
- What about my previous order confirmation and place in the queue?
- For the US - We’re still holding your place as per your shipping queue and will send you an updated queue notification in early January, this is based on color, fingerboard choice and date of purchase. For International orders, we will be updating you before we launch in your country. As for previous order confirmation notices, we will be re-sending these for you to complete and reconfirm your order, so we make sure we don’t send your order to the wrong address!
- How do I update my details?
- You will get a chance to update your details two weeks before we ship to you. We will not ship to you until you update your details.
- What can I expect from customer service in 2018?
- Alot! We’ve learned that customer service is one of the most critical aspects of the Fusion Guitar business. We plan to be more responsive, and clear with our updates including new channels to communicate with us, like google hangouts and Skype sessions with Facebook messenger support, along with commitments to processing refunds in an appropriate time frame with additional support for Fusion owners.
- How can I claim a refund?
- If you prefer not to wait, you can request a refund by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you instructions and information to claim your refund.
See below for a list of ways you can contact us. If you have any question about the above.
Email - email@example.com
Facebook Messenger - m.me/fusionguitars
Skype or Google Hangouts - calendly.com/fusionguitars/15min
Thank you for taking this journey with us,
- Juan and the Fusion Guitars team.