Bartesian, the startup behind the eponymous automatic countertop cocktail making appliance, gave The Spoon a heads up that it will be shipping its first batch of devices to Kickstarter backers this week.
The fact that a crowdfunded consumer hardware product is actually making it to market is enough cause for celebration. But Bartesian backers will be able to raise more than one celebratory glass when they receive their robot bartender; the startup revealed that they will eventually be getting two Bartesian machines.
Evidently the Bartesians that backers will shortly receive are being considered “beta units.” But fear not, backers! It looks as though you are not getting a knock-off, hurriedly constructed out of balsa wood and chewing gum. Here’s an email exchange I had with Bartesian Co-Founder and CEO, Ryan Close, that explains this unusual situation:
The Spoon: You’re shipping to Kickstarter backers this week. To all Kickstarter backers? Or just early birds?
Ryan Close: Yes, all KS backers this week.
You said you were treating these shipments as “beta units” — what will be the difference between these and production models?
These KS units have been hand assembled in Canada by our team. The retail units will be made in a top tier factory in China that makes other premium appliances. The handle on these KS/Beta units is not as intuitive as it needs to be, so we have already re-engineered it for the retail version coming out in Winter/18. The handle is a big change as it’s the #1 touch point for the consumer. We also made a few design tweaks to decrease the amount of pressure required to pierce the capsule, further increasing the ease of use. The new machine will look generally the same as the KS unit. If necessary, we can also make any design changes we uncover after our KS folks have had a chance to use our product. We’ll harness their input and implement any changes they feel would improve the overall experience.
You said Kickstarter folks will receive a free unit from Hamilton Beach this winter. So will people who receive the beta units ship those betas back to you to receive the full production unit? How will that work exactly?
Our KS backers have been incredibly patient and supportive while we battled through the R&D and production of launching both innovative hardware and customized CPG’s. They will each keep the KS unit, the retail version is an extra and all about gratitude for being with us from the start – extreme patience – and cheering us on from the sidelines.
For a little more background, earlier this year Bartesian entered into an exclusive, three-year manufacturing and distribution agreement with Hamilton Beach. The move, according to Close at the time, would leverage Hamilton Beach’s massive manufacturing expertise and distribution network and allow Bartesian to focus on the drinks that come out of the machine.
Or if you’re one of its backers, both of your machines.