[Image: Kicking up some dust in the Judean desert on an epic adventure. And yes, for you eagle eyes, I kept my COURG at EST and used the bezel for IST.]
Greetings courageous crew! Wow. I can’t believe it’s been one year since we started fulfillment on the first COURG production run.
After a year of mostly feeling like I mostly trekked the e-commerce wilderness, it’s time to take a breath, and get my bearings. So, I wanted to debrief with you all about what we’ve worked on this year and where I hope we’re headed.
“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.” Brené Brown
- Redux & Co. 2016: Beyond the comfort zone
- Mission Accomplished: Flyboy Nicholas, Wings for Wishes
- The Redux & Co. Workshop
- 2016 strap build in progress
- Limbo: Strap changer multitool order
- Navy Squadron special edition
- R&D: Seeking new ballistic nylon material + technology
- Welcome, Glazy — client care+support extraordinaire!
- E-commerce stack build out
- 2017 Projects? Paging IP attorney?
- Fulfillment & repair operations migrate Stateside
- 17 Book recommendations from my 2016 stack
1. Redux & Co. 2016 debrief
I know it appears not much has happened since Kickstarter, but we’ve been working hard behind the scenes:
+ We’ve been building toward a sustainable enterprise.
I never set out to start a business. The simple idea was to see if anyone else wanted to work on a watch project with me. And I was delighted and thrilled that many of you resonated with COURG.
Along the way, I discovered that things are not as simple as I first thought. This is a common refrain around our household. I’m sure you fellow vision-driven and optimism-biased friends can relate.
So, 2015 was a test flight of both Kickstarter/crowdfunding as well as collaborative product development and a litmus test for the Redux vision.
Now, 2016 as most of you already know, was our investment in the e-commerce laboratory and getting a feel for the post-Kickstarter life cycle.
I’ve learned a lot over the past year about customer care, software integration, development, setting up an online store, and how to keep our global team organized, on track, and on the same page.
By no means have I figured it out, but we’ve made progress.
Overall, we had under three percent return/repair rate. And many of those were due to crowns that weren’t screwed all the way down.
So, we created a Preflight Checklist to deploy with new units that has much clearer illustrations to explain overall operation. [You have to use your imagination a bit here because it’s folded.]
I know there are areas of refinement and continued improvement that I’d like to dedicate further effort in future production runs. I’m deeply grateful for all of you who are with us for the long haul and
All of this is way outside my comfort zone. I have to admit that the Kickstarter campaign was more my speed. Kind of more like an intense burst of speed — a sprint, mostly focused on creative output.
This year, I’ve often felt like I’ve plodded along just trying to figure out where and how to put one foot in front of the other and stop trying to sprint or lose patience.
+ THANK YOU. Most importantly, I can’t even begin to express how much your continued interest and loyal support of the Redux & Co. mission means to me.
Part of what has made our adventure so much more fun and rewarding is the joy of collaborating with you all.
From the votes for design development to case back design to our studio product photos to our field reports — Redux is what it is today because of our shared vision for what one of you termed “group think.” Some would call it crowdsourcing. Others, “wrangling the herd.”
I think of us as a group of friends united with a united purpose. Every time you vote, share, and interact, you help shape the future of Redux. I’m honored, humbled, and privileged to have your trust to try new things and work on making our ideas into reality. I never take that for granted.
I deeply value your trust and work hard to make the best decisions based on your votes and development cues.
Compounding the lack of bandwidth, I’ll be honest that I always dread and procrastinate when it comes to writing. For some, writing is a natural and joyful creative outlet.
Not me. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” That’s roughly how I feel when I have to write.
Just for illustration, I have over 50 drafts since I started this in OCTOBER! This update snarled at me from the top of my most important tasks for two weeks.
With my excuses out of the way, sorry for the long radio silence! I’ll try to develop more of a rhythm in 2017 with updates. Once a month?
+AND HUGE THANKS for telling us your stories! I get pinged when someone shares a COURG review on our site, or tags us on Instagram/Facebook.
I can’t express how much it means to me when we hear your stories about COURG in action and field reports.
Many of you have written in and dispatched field reports. As a journalist, I thrive on story and these are always a bright spot for me as a maker to see the deployed units in action — keep ’em coming!
+If you can share a story or review about your COURG on our variant hub, I’d be super grateful! Your reviews encourage us to keep on keeping on!
It’s 3 easy steps!
1. Click on your variant below. (Separate window will pop-up so you can jump right back here when done.)
2. Click on the stars at the top — as in photo above.
(Or scroll to the comments section at bottom variant’s page).
3. Leave a note!
Click on your variant image or on the text links below:
2. Mission Accomplished: Flyboy Nicholas, Wings for Wishes
As part of our maiden voyage, it was important to me — and I think all of you — that we join forces to also look beyond ourselves. So, we worked with the Make-a-Wish foundation to recruit a potential young crew member to join us.
We backed our Wings for Wishes flyboy Nicholas on his adventure across the Pacific. He flew to Brazil and logged some 10,000 miles with his family. That’s roughly 4 aeronautical miles per COURG!
And for Nicholas’s adventure, we equipped him with any COURG of his choice. Nicholas joined the COURG A-11 fleet!
What I didn’t know earlier, was that Nicholas loves building model planes. Above, a photo of the model of the plane he flew.
Checkout Nicholas’ handwritten thank you note for the flight and COURG to you all in his own words.
3. The Redux & Co. Workshop
Thanks to many of you who accepted our invitation to join the special new projects development arm of Redux & Co. It was only fitting that you help name the team.
By way of recap, I had suggested: Labs, Collective, Skunkworks, Workshop, and Special Operations.
The top two favorites were Workshop and Labs — with Workshop scoring the highest number of your votes.
4. 2016 strap build in progress — First wave pre-orders window closes this weekend.
That’s a shot of a hill of hand cut Pitch Black Wickett & Craig leather for the first wave of 2-piece straps! First off, thanks so much to all of you who have jumped on board the 2016 Brooklyn made strap project!
I met with our strap maker a few days ago for an update on progress and we are right on schedule. The first wave will ship by the end of December.
And then our strap maker closes down his business for 10 days during the end of the year Holiday festivities to visit his family.
By now, you know how critical it is for a small operation like us to get a solid count of which straps we need completed. If you haven’t ordered your strap yet, please reserve your strap now so we can include you on the count.
We only have a limited number that we can make in the first run because he’s essentially making each one by hand! More on this project.
Clay Color Strap
Those of you who reserved a Clay strap already know I reached out for a final vote on the thread color. As I told the Clay strap crew, we received many more votes on the thread color than those who actually ordered.
That’s a problem because I ordered leather based on those votes to help speed up the timeline. And also I don’t want the votes of those who actually ordered to get diluted.
To resolve this discrepancy, I had those who reserved their straps vote directly. Almost everyone responded, and most within a few hours — THANK YOU!
The majority of the Clay crew wanted the beige thread stitching, with only a couple who request brown thread. That’s in stark contrast to the vote, which showed an even split between the colors. I’ll have to rethink how we run those development votes.
So, what I’ve decided to do is make this first production run essentially personalized. We’ll make a very limited run of the brown thread stitched straps for those who have asked. Then the rest will be beige.
The reason I don’t want to carry both is every additional SKU complicates things on the fulfillment end and increases the possibility of mistakes.
Please send an email over to crew@ with your order number and let us know you need an XL, so we can take you into account.
For those of you who ordered the sweet oiled latigo rust-color strap, the strap maker recommends that we stitch the edges. That’s because the leather is so oil-filled that glue acts a little unpredictably with the double layer construction. I was skeptical about stitches as you know I tend toward a more minimal look.
But having seen a stitched version in person, I really think the stitches on this color add a touch of vintage distinction — it reminds me of an old baseball glove. We tried a gray thread on the prototype, but I don’t like it and I think we’ll be using a brown instead that will offer a more subtle finish. So, imagine brown thread for the stitching.
New premium single pass straps
I had originally intended to only make the 2-piece straps for those of you who asked, but in the end I couldn’t resist myself because I wanted to get in on this sweet leather. So, I’ve asked the strap maker to make a limited smaller run of premium single pass straps for those of you who, like me, also prefer single pass.
Horween Color 8
Related to the above, we didn’t have as high a number of orders for the Color 8, so we’ll need to source the Horween ourselves. Our leather strap maker is on that right now and will update us ASAP once that’s squared away.
5. Limbo: Strap Changer Multitool Order
When we launched out on this project, many of you — close to 500 — signed up for the strap changer multitool, which is the magic number for the minimum order quantity [MOQ]. As some of you noticed, we hit a glitch on our website and the Pre-Order button did not appear on the multitool order page.
I also understand that the products section was difficult to sort through and identify the pre-order items. I’m working on a better way to implement that in the future.
Unfortunately, right now we’re actually not even close to hitting the MOQ for the strap changer tools. The manufacturing partner understandably doesn’t want to proceed with a smaller order, especially if we can’t offer a clear order timeline. I wouldn’t want the glitch and sub-par layout to hinder this order.
So, if you’re still interested and you want to make this happen, please head over to the strap changer multitool and signup. If enough of you sign up, I’ll re-open the order page so we can proceed. Otherwise, I’ll refund the existing orders.
6. Navy squadron deployment COURG
I’m so stoked to officially confirm the Navy squadron special edition COURG has taxied to the runway. The squadron members selected the COURG A-11.
We worked together on a special edition “hazards” second hand inspired by the yellow and black hashed warning color schemes found on their aircraft panels and instruments.
In addition, we etched their flight groups, call signs, and pilot/navigator/air crew wings on the case backs. It is such a privilege to collaborate with them!
The image above is a prototype second hand. We actually chose to go with a slightly stronger yellow in the final run!
7. R&D: New ballistic nylon material
I’ve been working on engineering a better ballistic nylon for our straps. There was nothing wrong with our original ones, but I want a strap that just as sturdy, and at the same time offers a nicer feel on the wrist.
I searched all over the place and ordered samples and couldn’t find a good supplier of what I’m after. I don’t have a lot of experience with sourcing, so I may be missing something, but it was difficult to find 20mm straps and then everything felt rougher, cheaper, or less durable than our original.
I’m aiming for a hybrid of our original robust weave fused with a seat belt strap feel. I just learned last night that the samples have been finished, so I should have those in hand in the next week or two.
My original plan was to order some of these new nylon straps equipped with our titanium hardware in black. But I found out that the MOQ on that is 1,000. And I really don’t want that many.
What I’d really like to do is split the 1,000 into a few different standard issue colors such as olive drab, admiral blue, and/or desert brown. So, our field operatives are trying to convince them to make an exception. Any colors you’d love?
In parallel, I’m also investigating a new strap closure technology. While I love the titanium hardware, sometimes I prefer the feel of having little to no hardware. This new technology has not been applied anywhere else yet in watch straps.
I first heard about the concept when it was still in the labs of universities. This was back when I reported for Popular Science magazine on future applications of astronaut gear innovations.
The sample fee is higher than I’d like. But I’m super curious to see this technology with my own eyes on my own wrist to put a proof of concept prototype through some extensive field testing. Curiosity … killed the cat? Or: “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” (William Arthur Ward)?
8. Welcome, Glazy — Crew support rockstar!
I’d like to introduce Glazy to you all. Glazy filled Sarah’s role. Sarah accepted a manager role with another company and while I was sad to see her go, it was exciting to see her grow and accept new responsibility.
Some of you have already worked with Glazy on product/customer care queries and witnessed how thoughtful and effective she is! Glazy comes with extensive experience that has enabled her to seamlessly work with our e-commerce stack.
For those of you who participated in the 2016 strap development votes, she built the framework for those efforts! I’m so thankful and pleased to have her on the Redux team.
9. E-commerce build out
It took me months and months and more months than I expected to build out our store front and sales infrastructure. Finally, we relaunched the store in late August.
So, with a few months in motion, I’m pleased with how our little machine is running. It’s not without it’s glitches, and I’m not thrilled with everything, but it works — for now.
And at least we now have a starting point so we can build and further develop from here. Please let me know what you think, if you have any ideas for improvement, especially if you’re a UX/UI savant!
Our stack right now (Maybe I’ll expand on the nuts and bolts of these in another post if there’s interest?):
– Shopify +(fleet of apps)
– Infusionsoft +revenue conduit +fusedesk
– WordPress +(battalion of plugins)
– Asana +Slack
– Quickbooks +YNAB
10. 2017 Projects? Paging COURG crew IP attorney
Speaking of the COURG crew — somewhere in the haze of our Kickstarter campaign, one of you COURG crew reached out and said that you were an intellectual property attorney and offered to help if the time ever came for IP/patents, etc.
Are you still out there? I would love to hear from you as there are a couple patents I could really use some insight and help preparing for our next project.
Please email me if you’re still willing and able to help! Or if anyone has an IP lawyer to recommend, please let us know.
Speaking of new ideas, in 2017 I’d like to work on one or two projects to develop together in the Workshop. I have a few ideas stewing on the back burner and I’ll be reaching out to see which one(s) you’d like to pursue most.
One concept already underway, I’ll call Project V for now. This is a personal project with an inscrutable origin. The project V idea came out of left field, and I didn’t even see it coming.
In some ways, it’s a complete departure from COURG, yet at the same time shares some DNA. I’m sure you’ll be surprised, and I hope delighted.
I’m so captivated by the idea, I’ve started discussions with manufacturers and will initiate the Redux Workshop development group when there’s enough clarity to proceed.
More on this soon! Keep radars tuned for some upcoming surveys!
11. Fulfillment & repair operations migrate Stateside
With the multitude of details large and small that we needed to juggle during the Kickstarter campaign and then in production, and then in fulfillment, we decided to keep our logistics for fulfillment and repairs as integrated as possible. So, we felt it would be optimal to keep those operations in Asia this year.
Now, as we’ve transitioned into e-commerce mode, we’ve decided to pause our Asia operations. We’ve entered into an agreement with a U.S. based watchmaker and repair expert to support our crew.
We’re working to make the transition as seamless as possible for you all. But inevitably, there will be some lapse as we migrate our parts and supplies to the watchmaker here.
In addition, we have decided to move our remaining inventory to the U.S. shortly after we enter 2017 — most likely in the Seaport district.
12. Drink more water, read more books.
(I decided to move this section to another post because the estimated read time was already 16 minutes! So stay tuned and I’ll dispatch my reads from 2016 soon.)
Ok, this update got a little out of hand. If you’ve stuck around, thanks for your endurance and I hope you found this interesting and found some helpful takeaways! As always, I’d love to hear what you like to hear more of and especially what you’d like to hear less of.