January 16, 2013
ElevationDock hit its Kickstarter funding goal in 8 hours, tripled the previous 24hr record and became the first crowd-funded project to cross $1M dollars.
It closed at $1,464,706 on February 11th, 50% larger than any previous project. That's over 20,000 docks for 12,521 backers in 96 different countries.
Off the chart level of pressure.
Scaling mass manufacturing in the USA
We bought 40,000 lbs of aluminum alloy direct from a mill and had it extruded here in Portland with a custom die just a hair over the profile of the Dock to cut down on machining (thats over 2 miles of thick extruded material - an insane amount).
Moving metal. We made 12 tooling fixtures that hold 22 docks each to run in 5 connected multi axis CNC machining centers. Less than one hour down time per day. Each dock required three different manual position changes. Over 4 million toolpath inches. Wore out over 400 endmills and taps. 16,000 pounds of chips were recycled.
Churning. We tuned and automated our machining processes to reach 800 Dock per day production. Our vendors for hired 8 more people to handle the load. 90% of production was within 10 miles of Portland.
Taking a dip. All raw docks are carefully transported across town for glass bead blasting, electro-chemical polishing, anodizing and sealing. This 16-step finishing process proved to be our biggest challenge to scale with all the variables and chemistry involved that affect the final finish.
Lasers. Lots of them.
Custom connector. We designed and manufactured the first and only custom low-friction 30pin connector. An extremely intricate and risky part to make with 5 different molded plastic and formed metal parts. And it worked great the first time we put them all together - easily remove your dock with one hand. She didn't last long though...
We moved into a new shop on the Portland Eastside. All assembly, quality control and shipping goes down here. We grew from 2 to 12 people.
Real Artists Ship
In the second half of 2012, we sent over 30,000 docks to the world. 30% international. All the finished Docks lined up would stretch over a mile - more than 7 Eiffel towers of Docks. Going zero to production to shipping takes an army.
Apple’s iPhone5 debuted with the new all-digital Lightning connector. Within a month, we designed and started shipping machined aluminum Lightning cord mounts to retrofit docks for the new connector.
Launched New Website.
Designed new retail packaging. 360 view. Debossed and spot varnished. Manufacturing process photos on the bottom. All docks ordered from our store now come dressed in it.
Support. We sent over 13,000 emails to backers and new customers. A very difficult thing to scale up and down - after a Kickstarter update we could get 500+ emails and a ton more the following days. At any time, we have 2-6 people answering customer questions.
Thanks to all our Kickstarter backers for believing in us and making this project a reality. We are lucky to live in this new era of hardware design where we can go over the huge traditional barriers of capital and middlemen to deliver a high-quality wares, that would never exist otherwise, straight from us to you.
- Casey + ElevationLab