A couple of years ago, Popslate developed a case for an iPhone that added an E Ink display to the back of the phone. It was marketed and designed as a way for users who check their phones often to conserve their batteries as well as for use as a Kindle like feature for iPhone users.
The early success led to some rapid growth for the company and consumers were quick to demand additional features. Fast forward a year down the road the company prepared to launch an improved version called Popslate 2 adding in a back-up battery into the ink case. An improved version sounded like a great idea, until it wasn’t.
To raise more capital and to gain additional marketing exposure the company went the crowdfunding route on Indiegogo and absolutely crushed it by raising over $1.1 million. Fast forward more then a year later and Popslate announced that it entered into the legal process for dissolution of the company. What went wrong?
Well, first you have to understand that manufacturing at any level is difficult, but that it is especially difficult at scale. And second, too much money too quickly for a startup or any relatively new company is actually a bad thing. A sudden surplus of cash often allows blindness, and carelessness to run rampant.
The company spent a considerable amount of money preparing to manufacture the new device, and ran into some technical problems with its original design that they only created molds and materials made for the iPhone 6. In hindsight they should have been prepared for the iPhone 7 as its release was right around the corner.
When Apple announced the iPhone 7, it then prompted Popslate to explore redesigning the device so that it would fit both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7, only to backtrack when it discovered that a hybrid version of both would not comply with Apple’s Made For iPhone (MFi) program. This forced them to manufacture a version for each phone.
Then after completing the now expanded manufacturing process, the company discovered that its new prototypes failed Apple’s certification testing. Apple stated that Popslate 2 diminished the iPhone’s ability to send and receive RF transmissions. Popslate 2 was made out of plastic and glass fibers, which messed with the iPhone’s ability to pick up a signal. Apple also noted that the device wasn’t reliably charging any test phones that it was attached to.
As a result, in order to release a fully functional end product the company would essentially have to start over and spend more time and capital on additional development cycles to tune a new plastic blend with required modifications to the tooling.
What’s the moral of the story for Shopify owners ? That there is nothing wrong with taking your time. Starting a new company is a marathon, not a sprint. You are going to fail a LOT- everyone does. Don’t be ashamed. It is how you fail and how you respond that will help take your brand to the next level.