All preorders shipped, retrospect and about the future.
Two weeks ago I shipped the last pre-ordered controllers. After that I was sick for a week but now that I'm better, I will now focus on improvements in the software and then do an inventory on how many more controllers I am able to make and sell. I know there still are a lot of people eager to get their hands on one but I cannot make any promises yet.
I got some more amazing feedback from customers again:
"best controller ever.. seriously since livid died i was looking and looking.. thanks a lot for doing this !!.. super good feel works like a charm so far. bravo❤️"
"I ordered already one KNTRL9 and I am so happy, that I want to buy another one…"
Also check out this cool video by Ekssperimental Sounds Studio where he uses the KNTRL9 for dub mixing:
TL;DR: There were a lot of up and downs and in the end I made a big loss on the project. I don't regret any of it and want to continue in some form or another with Midique.
The long story (which also is just a summary):
Creating the KNTRL9 was a fun and very educational project with, of course, a lot of ups but also downs. I started this project about 3 years ago, mainly because I was looking for a MIDI controller for myself and couldn't find a simple and decent MIDI mixer with some sort of track indication that was perfect for my live set. I also did it because I not only have a passion for creating music but also for creating hardware, software and, well, things, technical things. I just like creating in general I guess.
This however was my first hardware product I ever made and I had a lot to learn about this process.
It started as a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The campaign actually did very well (also thanks to the video made by Jurian Vermoolen that made Kickstarter value my project as a 'Project we like') but near the end, when it looked like reaching the target would be hard and I got a lot of valuable feedback from potential customers, I decided to cancel the campaign and first make some improvements on the product before trying again.
I added more knobs and added support for MIDI out. I also found some better (or cheaper) suppliers and managed to get the price down from €450 to around €270.
Back then, I still was able to live off my savings which also allowed me to invest in samples (of parts) and tools and components. At some point however, I had to take a job because I ran out of money. I worked as a software developer on the side until the prototype was finally ready.
This time I decided to try and go around any crowdfunding platform and sell the product via my own website. By now I had enough newsletter subscribers and followers on social media to give this a try. I also contacted some magazines who (to my own surprise) all wrote about the KNTRL9. Within a few weeks, the required 50 controllers were sold and a few weeks later, I sold number 100.
With the money from the pre-sales, I could start buying all the parts and start producing. This all went according to plan until one of the factories delivered a bad product. Since I told them that the samples they sent me were ok but I could not accept the scratches they had, they decided that the best action was to sand down the panels(!). This caused an ugly stripe on one side of the panel which I cannot possibly sell. Damage: A few thousand euros plus a delay.
Luckily, I calculated in these kind of mistakes so the planning was still ok. The money was a bummer but I still should be able to make it, albeit without much (or any) profit.
I then went to another factory and told them that the panels have to be perfect. The samples they then sent me were good, although a keen eye could vaguely, maybe see some irregularities where the studs were on the other side. Since this was almost invisible and time was now running out, I gave them a go.
This was my biggest mistake; the actual mass produced panels all had the same problem but this time, much, much worse. The irregularities were very visible on each and every panel.
So I lost another few thousand euros and decided to go to another company that I already had some good experiences with but were a lot more expensive (switching to another factory was one of the reasons I managed to get the price of one controller down). So here also I had a new financial setback of a few thousand euros. Besides, I now had to wait multiple months for the new panels to arrive which would also cost me a lot of money.
When the parts finally arrived, I started assembling and shipping the controllers. If it wasn't for my girlfriend and the help of my friends with this process, I would still be assembling them today. So a big thank you to Maaike, Cor, Georg, Benji, Enzio and Karla.
In the end I had to borrow money to survive and I made a big loss on the whole adventure. I do however not regret any of it since I have learned a lot and got so much amazing feedback from everyone. I'm also quite proud of what I managed to accomplish.
I now have a part time job again (which I landed partly thanks to Midique) so that I can pay off my debts and pay the rent. I of course will continue to deliver support for the sold controllers and will start to think about the future of Midique. Thanks to all the feedback I got from customers, I can use this to think about how to make this profitable. Maybe I can create another batch of KNTRL9s or design a new controller, this is something I will think about in the coming time.
I will definitely have to outsource more of the work (I did almost everything myself, by hand) and scale up. I also will never even think of producing in my own house again.
If you have any ideas, tips or maybe you own a KNTRL9 and have some ideas on how to improve it, let me know!
That was it for now. I will stop writing these posts on a regular base and only write when there is some news to tell. Thanks everyone for your support and for reading these (sometimes very verbose) updates.