Creating a self-contained home brewing system is evidently harder than it looks. iGulu, the crowdfunded, countertop beer making machine had initially promised delivery to backers in Q3 of 2016. But an update posted by the company on its Indiegogo page indicates that mass production to fulfill all backers won’t happen until July 2018.
Just a few days ago, on November 27, the company provided a lengthy breakdown of reasons for the latest delays, and included the following bit:
Based on the recent exchange rate (CNY: USD = 6.6:1), we have spent $1.45M on this project. We have raised about $1.1M from two platforms and received a net fund of $910,000 after all agent fee, and the platform fee, have been deducted. We are operating on our new investor’s money now and are very confident to carry on the project since we just made solid progress in the past six months.
To its credit, iGulu has posted 34 updates, and has seemingly been transparent about the troubles it encountered. But some backers are understandably upset, having shelled out at least $489 dollars to back the project. But a refund doesn’t seem like it will happen anytime soon, as the company posted on Indiegogo yesterday:
For those of you who asked for a refund, we deeply apologize again that your investment didn’t work out. We just don’t have the negotiating power with our venture capital investors to be able to use their funds for refunding rather than investing in working capital which is critical to generating future cash flow. As our CEO stated, we have recorded all of your requests and will refund you when we have the cash-flow.
We reached out to iGulu via email with questions, and CEO Shu Zhang replied saying iGulu has received funding from three venture capital firms in China, but the names of the firms and the amount raised was not disclosed. He also provided with the following statement:
This fund can cover the full mass production and delivery for our first-generation machine. Then it also can support us to jumpstart development of our second-generation machine.
The causes of our numerous delays were several design and supplier issues. We encountered all kinds of difficulties that startups frequently face, but we have improved our processes and are steadfast in our commitment to release a safe and reliable unit.
Regardless, I am deeply sorry for the delays to all of our backers, but we are on the right track now. It is evident at this point that we were overly optimistic. Building a workable prototype in a living room is one thing, but mass production of a commercially ready product is entirely different.
Finally, I’d like to apologize again to all of our backers for missing our original date by so wide a margin. I’d like to have all of our backers know that we are hanging there and that all of your voices have been heard.
iGulu isn’t the only crowdfunded homebrew system to hit hard times. Last month, Brewbot narrowly avoided being shut down completely after only delivering a few of its promised units.
It’s not all bad news for for budding home beermakers though. The grandaddy of crowdfunded homebrew, Picobrew, continues to deliver its products. And Hopii, which crowdfunded $386,401 was a hit at our recent Smart Kitchen Summit.