Riding the Logic Rollercoaster
Finally, light at the end of the tunnel! We recently launched the cross-platform SDK and although it didn’t work perfectly right away I think it’s actually pretty close. Meanwhile the cross-platform app continues to come along nicely. I’m shooting for a bare-bones GUI release pretty soon. That said, I’ve been wrong about every prediction I’ve made with this effort so the new deadline is “it’ll be ready when it’s ready”.
Late last month we moved into a new space managed by a company called Activespace. So far I really like it. I sit right next to a bright window. The new address is
3150 18th St Suite 344
San Francisco, CA 94110.
It’s literally 4 blocks from the old place. Oh, the new place actually has parking (parking tickets were really killing me for a while) although it’s $.75/hr – at least it’s there when you need it.
While no one is buying a new car, sales have stabilized to a rate that definitely keeps the lights on, so that’s fantastic. Looking at the total number of units sold, it’s actually pretty mind boggling to have gotten to this point. Thanks everyone!
Inventory has continued to be the bane of my existence. Here’s the deal. When you run out of inventory, sales go down. And sure, you recover some, but overall you probably loose at least half the sales you would have made. Now inventory is hard to manage because it takes so much cash to finance – and when cash is tight and you have to choose between making payments on overdue invoices and inventory purchases… By the way, this is not at all an intractable problem. Our inventory could be managed like a champ if I had the time to put a proper system in place. Having plenty of cash generally makes managing the inventory much easier and we’re moving in that direction.
Speaking of putting a decent system in place, we have done that for order fulfillment. In January we started out with this fulfillment house called Webgistix. While this wasn’t a complete disaster, they were a major pain in the butt to deal with, their IT systems were apparently implemented by an intern, they would duplicate orders, lose packages, mis-count inventory etc. (Maybe we’re just high maintenance) This plus our declining sales made me decide about a month ago to pull fulfillment back in house. During that time and soon after our fulfillment infrastructure got pretty good (lots of php/mysql work). Now it’s just a series of button clicks to print invoices, shipping labels (including all the customs stuff), and send out various order confirmation/order shipped emails. The only thing that isn’t automated is anything that doesn’t go through the normal website sales channel. Although I imagine that won’t be too far off either.
By the way, about this whole Linux/OSX thing. I don’t think it was really the best business decision to have made in hindsight. On the plus side, it’s going to be awesome and we will definitely get some new customers (what % is a good question). On the down side (in hindsight) it has turned out to be an extremely challenging engineering undertaking, far beyond what I had originally imagined. It’s allowed our competitors in large part to catch up and reclaim their market share. That all said, and with due respect to sunk cost, I’m actually fairly happy to be doing it: 1) It’s going to be awesome and a nice feather in our cap 2) It’s been an fantastic learning experience for me 3) It’s given us a chance to re-architect the entire application from the ground up. And for better or worse, I’m more motivated by a vision of how awesome we can make something than with strictly business decisions.
One part of many in the Saleae world-class fulfillment implementation
The USPS API doesn’t actually let you pay via the api, thus the make-your-own-stamps
Woo! Latest n’ greatest
Ubuntu Linux! Running native on 2.0GHz core2 duo/ 3GB ram
A typical hour’s worth of orders. Just kidding…
Saleae gets a mascot