On September 8th, 2013, Lima completed its KickStarter campaign, raising $1,229,074 (well beyond its $69,000 goal, which it shattered in a matter of hours), despite having to change their name midway through the campaign. At the time the largest KickStarter campaign in France (they have since been leapfrogged by Giroptic), the company went on to raise another $2.5 Million from Partech International.
“Our only focus for this past year has been to ship you best product possible.” – Severin Marcombes, CEO @ Lima
Now one year later, the company still hasn’t shipped. And backers have gotten verbal about it. You need only type a single search on Twitter to see how users have reacted – accounts like @unMeetLima, parodying the company’s official twitter account, @MeetLima, boast “Spending our Kickstarter and VC funds living like rockstars,” with the account owner describing himself as a “a pissed off Kickstarter backer.”
While it’s not uncommon for KickStarter campaigns to get delayed (or even, to never ship), Lima owes much of the bad press to its lack of communication to backers, which CEO Severin Marcombes owed up to in a video published on the company’s Vimeo account earlier this month:
“When we launched our campaign, we were just a couple of geeks in a cave… You don’t ship a product the same way to 1,000 people as you do to 13,000 people” – Severin Marcombes
Much of the delay has been due to Lima recoding the entire product from Python into C, as well as pushing back deadlines on soft launches and hard launches; sources close to the company say that the founders have trouble shipping, frequently delaying shipping in order to add ‘just one more feature.’ In the video, Severin speaks of Lima’s compatibility across all operating systems, mobile & desktop, for example.
The Lima team has announced a tour for backers, where they will be meeting with backers, getting feedback, and sharing insights (and demo-ing what’s finished) – while many are skeptical of the ‘PR tour’ as it has been dubbed, this is a big move for Lima in being more open with its 13,000 backers.
For now, the product won’t ship before 2015 – assuming there are no more delays in shipping, the product will have taken more than 15 months to ship, during which only the first handful of backers will be welcomed into the open beta.
While I am not a backer of the product, I find it a bit unfortunate that, as Marcombes points out in the video, the product is finished, hardware-wise, but they are still debugging the software. In delaying shipping until the product is perfect, they have delayed getting feedback (developing unnecessary features much?) and, perhaps more importantly, set an expectation barrier so high that it will undoubtedly see the final product criticized for any nuanced disappointment or bug.
As crowdfunding becomes more mainstream as a way for hardware products to test product-market fit, I believe that shorter & harder shipping dates will become increasingly important – imagine that the campaign was backed or had already partnered with the manufacturing facility(ies) that would build the product – that would surely satiate backers who are increasingly worried that the product they are pre-ordering will be obsolete before it arrives on their doorstep.