We’ve been working on logistics for international support for several months now. Many of you have been asking what we’ve been working through. We’ve explored many different options, and several issues continued show up and we wanted to outline them for you. To preface, we knew some of these issues existed when we started the Kickstarter campaign and attempted to lower the hurdles from the start by limiting orders to North America and parts of Europe. However, we still underestimated the dilemmas some of them would pose. Here are the issues we’ve been dealing with:
It’s inevitable that some units we ship out will be defective. It’s impossible to have every unit be perfect, especially considering that these are the very first units of a new product that have been built and shipped. Why is this important? Well, for every defective part, a replacement needs to be sent and the bad piece returned. The shipping prices within the United States are manageable, but when we have to ship outside of the United States, the price of shipping a drone increase dramatically and we have to go through customs. In addition, as the unit travels further, the risk of damage being incurred increases.
- If we sell units internationally, our risk and liability increases dramatically. We’re not saying this would happen, but if a unit does damage to something or hurts someone, that could potentially come back to us. With each country having their own set of laws, it’s difficult to assess exactly what we would be liable for. As a small company, it’s a risk that is daunting to take on. Obtaining insurance for a new drone company is difficult enough for functioning and fulfilling orders within the United States. It becomes even more difficult outside of the United States. When we are able to get a quote from an insurance company, the prices are quite significant and are limited in coverage.
- As a small startup company, we have a limited amount of resources and have to use them wisely. If we spread the resources too thin, Fathom will ceases to exist. To date, we’ve managed resources well enough to ship units within the United States and work towards functioning as a real company. If we begin international shipments, there’s a high probability that we will be spread too thin. At which point, Fathom would neither grow, nor would it be able to support any existing customers, potentially leaving everyone with drones that can’t be used. At the end of the day, our goal at Fathom is to give people the freedom to explore. If we don’t exist, we fail at that ultimate goal.
You helped us raise $190,000. That money seems like a lot, but in the grand scheme of building a hardware startup, it’s a small amount. Many other hardware startups have raised tens of millions of dollars and still failed to deliver a product. That being said, we’re incredibly thankful we’ve had backers like you that have supported us along the way. Without you, we would not exist. We won’t forget that and we never take it lightly. Thank you. We’ve spent this money on development, and some of the initial inventory. We haven’t personally profited off this, and have worked side jobs to make this dream happen.
We’ve personally backed failed Kickstarter projects in the past and haven’t gotten anything back, and we know that can be a sour feeling. We’re incredibly appreciative of the risk you took on us and want to do what we can to make things right.
That being said, we are not in a position to ship units outside of the United States at this point in time. We hope to be an international company at some point, however, right now we simply cannot support it.
What does this mean for you? We have every intention of fully refunding backers that have not received a unit. However, it isn’t something we can do right away. As a new company, cash flow is one of the most important aspects to staying alive, and if we don’t have cash flow, no one wins.
Our goal is to do refunds as fast as possible, but it is dependent on future sales. As a result, we do not have an exact timeline.
Some of you may be reading this with resentment, some with disappointment, some of you may see this as untenable. You may be thinking of ways by which we could support international orders, or things that could have been done differently. Yes, granted the clarity of hindsight, there are certainly things that could have been done better or differently, but that’s not how the world works, and very little could have been done to change the outcome so dramatically. Listen, writing this message was not an easy thing to do. We’ve dedicated the better part of three years of our lives to Fathom. Events like this hurt, but we will continue to fight for it.
Two years ago we were blown away by the support granted to us. Even today, it stands as an incredible point in our shared history that started this process. There are not words that can provide the thanks you deserve for the risk you took on us. We’re sorry for the feeling of frustration, disappointment, or resentment that you may be feeling with us right now, but we’re committed to doing our best to fix it.
We’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on status of refunds as we move forward. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fathom Team