Qi Aerista Post-Campaign Update #12

Hello Qi Aerista Supporters!

Here's our regular bi-weekly update to our wonderful backers. This update has been postponed for a few days due to tea plantation and partner visits this past weekend.

For the last 2 weeks we were involved in a lot of activities:

  • Further brewing tests with our latest prototype
  • Participation in tea expos and events
  • Visits to tea plantations in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces for partner discussions
  • Face-to-face meeting with IoT cloud service partner  
  • In-depth discussions with appliance and PCBA manufacturers
  • Discussions with logistics solutions providers

We have continued testing our new prototype by brewing different types of tea, including matcha, rooibos and shoumei (white tea). Even though these are our first ever attempts in brewing those teas using Qi Aerista, they all tasted pretty good. 

The beauty of Qi Aerista is that if we don't get the right taste the first time, it is easy to adjust and experiment with the brewing parameters on our subsequent brews. 

Further brewing tests with matcha, rooibos and shoumei.
Further brewing tests with matcha, rooibos and shoumei.

In case you've noticed, our new prototype received a new paint job to formally conclude our current round of prototyping work. A lot of time and hard work have been dedicated to this process. See below for the transformation over the past few weeks:

New Qi Aerista prototype with old base (L), half-done finishing (M) and new paint job (R).
New Qi Aerista prototype with old base (L), half-done finishing (M) and new paint job (R).

Besides prototyping work, we have participated in several tea expos and events to foster partnerships with tea companies. In particular, our tea expert Karen was invited to serve as one of the judges in the 2017 International Kamcha Competition for Hong Kong-style milk tea in the Shanghai region. The winner will move onto the world finals to be held in Hong Kong later this summer.

Karen served as one of the judges at the Kamcha 2017 competition.
Karen served as one of the judges at the Kamcha 2017 competition.

In the past few weeks we have also visited several famous tea producing regions in China to connect with local tea producers and taste their offerings. It is our ultimate goal to use Qi Aerista as a platform to introduce great teas directly from tea gardens in China and abroad to tea lovers all around the world. Be sure to check out our upcoming blog articles for our trip findings.

Recent visits to tea growing regions in China.
Recent visits to tea growing regions in China.

On the app upgrade and IoT networking side, we’ve paid a visit to the head office of our IoT cloud service partner Gizwits in Guangzhou, China for more in-depth discussions. They have extensive experience in both smart device app development and IoT backend solutions to suit our needs. We’ve already had several rounds of preliminary discussions regarding our project and we expect the app upgrades and IoT backend system to be completed in about a month. When ready, we invite all of our backers to be our beta testers to help us improve our app experience.

IoT partner visit.
IoT partner visit.

While we are more than ready to start the app & IoT software work, we are facing a couple of major challenges on the smart brewer hardware side:  

1. Our preferred manufacturing partner informed us that over the past 6 months the market has experienced abnormal cost increases in raw material, packaging and PCBA that exceed 100% in some cases. So despite our design streamlining efforts over the past several months, the latest quotation they produced unfortunately still hovers about 20% over our original cost estimation when we started our Kickstarter campaign.

2. On the logistics side, our shipping costs are mainly determined by the actual weight and volume of our ready-to-ship package. However, the combined weight of our final product (as referenced by our latest prototype) and regular shippable packaging would exceed the 2kg threshold by about 15-20%. In addition, our current product dimensions along with extra protective packaging would make our ready-to-ship package oversized also by another 15-20%. Both factors would unfortunately prevent us from using our preferred international postal delivery service that best serves our needs within our shipping budget. The other options our logistics partners suggested are too expensive, too slow in delivery times, or prone to issues at the border customs.

Therefore after serious contemplation, we regret to make the undesirable decision to delay entering mass production stage for our smart brewer so that we can have more time to: 

1. Approach other appliance and PCBA manufacturers that can produce more competitive quotes. 

 2. Further revise our product design to reduce cost, size and weight. 

3. Evaluate our packaging options to reduce size and weight. 

We have already contacted and visited a number of new manufacturers with positive results, including the one shown below near Guangzhou. However, it takes tremendous time and effort to perform due diligence on new manufacturers and validate our product design revisions, Therefore we are now realistically targeting shipment at around October for our smart brewer.  On the other hand, our app and IoT backend system should be ready in advance of the revised shipment date.

New PCBA manufacturer visit.
New PCBA manufacturer visit.

Together we are making Qi Aerista a reality!   

____________________  

Cheers,  

Rick @ Qi Aerista


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