Delaying UNI To Summer 2016
Dear loyal customers and avid fans,
My name is Ryan Hait-Campbell and I am the CEO of MotionSavvy. This is not easy for me to announce, but we will be delaying the consumer version launch of UNI from this fall of 2015 to next summer 2016. Now the reasons are slightly complicated, and I want to take the time to share my thoughts with you.
First off, you may be wondering why am I not doing this over a video blog in sign language, and it’s because not all of our customers are ASL signers and we want everybody to easily understand our reasoning behind this very difficult decision.
Anyway, here I begin.
I started MotionSavvy in 2013 with 3 amazing co-founders: Alex Opalka, Wade Kellard, and Jordan Stemper. We brought on our first employee Michelle Giterman shortly after we founded.
Our roles were pretty straightforward, Wade and Jordan handled the design and building the physical hardware, Alex did the programming, Michelle handled our finances, and I handled marketing. However, we always wore many different hats in MotionSavvy. (Which means we took on other roles when needed)
Throughout the last 3 years, we entered a few accelerator programs. If you take a look above, we started out with winning 3rd place in the next big idea contest, then entered the Saunder’s start up program to learn how to build a business. Afterwards, we joined the leap accelerator program in San Francisco to understand the software aspect of our idea and made a proof of concept video to show the world what this idea can do.
So with this video, we launch a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo. When we started, we knew that at the end of the campaign we had two paths ahead of us:
- Either be successful enough with the Indiegogo campaign to take the profit and put that towards the completion of UNI.
- Find money from investors to complete UNI.
Throughout the campaign, it became very clear to us that consumer customers were never going to be the means to keep the company alive. Over half of people who needed UNI, just cannot afford it and because of that we barely raised $45,000. Which is a good start, but developing UNI requires more money than what the campaign gave us. So we had no choice but to go with option two.
Ironically enough before we started the campaign, we were in discussion with Wells Fargo (A large bank that has roughly 10,000 locations in the US) and they were very interested in investing in us. But because of how big they are as an organization, it took eight months of due diligence to finalize the deal. That’s eight months of delay towards the product development, but it was worth it because we raised a little over half a million dollars to develop the product.
Now I want to talk a little about the hardware and software aspects of UNI and how the money we raised is being spent.
Thanks to Jordan and Wade, we are 95% done with the hardware (The Tablet, Case, and Leap Motion controller) and can be manufactured and shipped out after some final touches.
However, because of the 8 month delay from Wells Fargo on their investment, software development was behind hardware by over half a year, so I made the hard decision of letting Jordan and Wade go since their roles were not needed anymore and we wish them the best of luck on future endeavors.
With the software, we had one programmer (Alex) for almost 2 years straight working nonstop on the development of the UNI software, but we always knew that this could not be done with 1 programmer. And now that we raised half a million dollars, we were able to grow from 1 to 7 programmers for the summer.
This is a massive jump on the software development side of things. And it makes me so excited because, for 2 long years, software development has been creeping along. But now with a real software team, we could make huge strides that we can share with the community.
Alex has been planning the product roadmap for quite some time, so he knew exactly what kind of programmers we need, and how long it would take to complete some core functionality.
With the product roadmap Alex developed, and with the money we received from our investors, we’ve hired:
2 Machine learning engineers that are critical to improving the recognition software of the special camera UNI uses.
7 software engineers to work on the cloud database and how the users will connect, upload, and download signs.
2 software engineers to work on the sign language database where we store all the signs in with some voice recognition work on the side.
1 UI/UX person to improve the UI and User experience of UNI to make it comfortable for everyone to use.
And keep in mind, we hired everyone above on June 2015, which was about 3 months ago. And in those three months, we got so much done, which we will be sharing with you through monthly updates throughout the remainder of 2015 and 2016 till launch.
So with this, I leave you with a personal message. I apologize for thinking we could get this out the door by this fall, but I will not just give up now, not when we’ve made it this far. And for this kind of life-altering technology, I ask you to be patient with MotionSavvy. We started this so others do not have to go through what we experienced at a young age, which was discrimination on every level imaginable. At work, at home, at school, everywhere I go. It was very frustrating, and it’s these memories that keep me going.
For those who ordered from our indiegogo campaign. If you would like a refund, we are offering them. But I ask, that we continue to receive your support for the next year as we work tirelessly on getting UNI ready to be used by banks in general, and then by you, the individuals that need it the most, because once we can validate that UNI works with banks, we can then convince the government to give out UNIs to those who need them most.
Again, if you would like a refund, please contact PR@MotionSavvy and we will get to you ASAP.
If you have questions about the delay that aren’t answered here, please contact PR@Motionsavvy and we’ll get back to you in a timely manner.
If you want to speak to me personally about the delay, you can do so at Ryan@Motionsavvy.com