Official Q&A: Side Effects, Shipping, Selling Soylent 1.0


#1

I mentioned previously I was considering doing a Q&A and decided the most effective thing would be to answer the most common questions I have seen since last week’s email to all backers.

I will probably address any major concerns in this thread throughout the next day or two and clarify anything big that comes up, but I won’t be doing a live chat right now.


Are physical side effects REALLY the only reason you stopped shipping? There has to be something else.

Truly, this is the reason we stopped shipping. As soon as we discovered that the physical side effects some users were experiencing could be significantly impacted with more instruction how to incorporate Soylent into their life, we decided to stop shipping in order to establish consumption guidelines and ensure that we had given our backers more tools at their disposal to help ease them into a Soylent-rich lifestyle, should they choose it.

Why did it take so long to publicly address something that has been reported for months?

There were a multitude of things that needed to happen before we could take public steps related to the side effects. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Beginning to understand the scientific mechanisms within the product that could be contributing to side effects in some customers.
    We are working with a number of entities / scientists / doctors on this as we continue R&D for the next formulation of Soylent and intend to share some findings as part of the release notes for our next version.

  • Understanding customer sensitivity to physical side effects.
    When we started to hear reports of physical side effects, we kept shipping in order to build a larger sample size of backers and work on gathering more information about the size and scope of issues. The biggest takeaway: 75% of backers that have tried Soylent 1.0 told us that, despite any side effects they may (or may not) have experienced, they would have rather received Soylent 1.0 when they did than have waited for a reformulated product. And when I looked at backers that reported a negative side effect, over two-thirds of them said the same thing. I think this speaks volumes to the community’s willingness to go on the journey of building a better food with us and it has reaffirmed our commitment to getting the product to our backers as fast as possible.

  • Testing the product in a variety of ways to determine immediate and long term fixes.
    When we first heard reports of flatulence and headaches, we embarked on a series of tests to determine if any negative effects could be limited by changes in consumption patterns, additives, etc. It took us time to conduct these tests in a way that provided conclusive results (starting from the very broad and moving to the very specific). The practical implications of these tests are in the updated version of the Soylent 1.0 Release Notes located at http://instructions.soylent.me/.

  • Understanding the manufacturing and operational steps that we can take to maximize health of our customers while minimizing shipping delays.
    In order to build out manufacturing and operational timelines, we had to wait on information from the above factors and our manufacturer (RFI) and then piece everything together into an overall timeline that is more set in stone. In the past, we have communicated timelines before getting all the way through this crucial step, and that has led to the continuous improper setting of expectations.

Where is my Soylent? The most recent update didn’t tell me anything about how fast you are shipping.

Based on the production and fulfillment schedules that we were just able to build out, we are estimating that we can fill the remainder of backer orders within the next 8-10 weeks.

What you can expect is that shipping speed will increase (we’ve built some inventory as we were still manufacturing product while shipping itself was paused) and we will be continuously evaluating the customer experience as more and more people try Soylent 1.0 for the first time. If you receive Soylent 1.0 and get a feedback survey email, please take it! Your thoughts and experiences seriously matter!

If we see an uptick in incidence or severity of side effects (as a percentage of customers), we may stop Soylent 1.0 production (or take other actions) until we can finish a formula iteration that sufficiently addresses these possible effects. We do not intend to stop shipping, but as we have missed many timelines in the past, I want to be upfront about this possibility.

Will new customers that ordered on the website get their orders before backers?

Absolutely not. Our crowdfunding backers are the people that made Rosa Labs / Soylent a company and we are going to honor our promise to get Soylent to our backers before anyone else. Any new customers that ordered on the website will receive direct communication via email regarding when they can expect their specific orders if we feel that their order will be affected.

How are you going to handle backers that are selling Soylent 1.0 here on Discourse and/or on auction sites like eBay?

Note: This answer relates specifically to the resale of our product, Soylent 1.0. The sales of DIY nutritionally complete foods is a separate subject that will be addressed more comprehensively, with the attention that it deserves, at a later time (but soon!).

While we recognize that the free market exists and people will invariably exploit supply shortages for their own personal gain (should they be in the position to do so), we feel that this fosters negative sentiment within our community and is contrary to the type of environment we are trying to build. The whole reason we started this company and made this product was to usher in a new era of scientific exploration in food as a nutritional tool. We have intentionally kept our own margins as low as possible in order to allow more people to participate in this developing ecosystem. When backers sell Soylent 1.0 for profit on our sites either by soliciting direct messages or linking to auction sites, it hurts everyone.

As more and more people start to try Soylent 1.0 and the number of opportunities for community members to exploit the supply shortage grows, we will be taking more active steps to protect the community. Moderators will begin actively hiding posts soliciting sales of Soylent 1.0 on Discourse and those attempting to get around this will be potentially subject to additional regulation within the forum. If you are a member of the community that wants to buy Soylent 1.0 before yours arrives, you can find it independently by searching on eBay.


Official Soylent Shipping/Fulfillment Thread [updated 8/8]
Just got this email from the Company
Just got this email from the Company
Countdown to delivery - contest!
Dear Rosa Labs: Let's talk about updates
Official Soylent Shipping/Fulfillment Thread [updated 8/8]
FS: 13 Days / 1 Week + 6 Days / 39 Meals Soylent SEALED w/ Oil
Paid $60 during crowd funding, never received
#2

Did you guys get acquired by Aperture Science or something?


#3

I just got an email. I ordered on 4/30/14…it will be another 8-10 weeks on top of the 10-12 weeks…bummer.


#4

Me too:

Thank you again for ordering Soylent, the new way to easily eat a nutritionally complete meal.

Based on early customer feedback, we paused production (now resumed) to make some changes to our packaging to make it even easier to integrate Soylent into your life. This unfortunately caused a delay in production, which pushed your order back by up to an additional 8 to 10 weeks (beyond the 10 to 12 weeks lead time we anticipated when you first purchased).

We apologize for the delay and truly appreciate your patience as we bring this efficient approach to food to our customers. We are confident your Soylent experience will be worth the wait.

If you have any questions please contact us at info@soylent.me.

Note: If you originally bought Soylent during our crowdfunding phase (prior to 05/06/14), we will fill that order first and consider any purchases you made on our website to be reorders. Any reorders will ship within 1-2 weeks after you receive your crowdfunding order.


#5

I am really happy to hear that, and hopefully that works out that way.

When you (the company, not you personally) decided to stop shipping to address the side effect issues you elected to not inform backers or customers that shipping had stopped or why for some time. After it had become apparent from the crowdsourced tracker that shipping had halted. Do you believe this was the right decision, and if you have to stop shipping or manufacturing again at some point in the near future would you make the same choice?


#6

The email just sent out says an 8-10 week delay is necessary as production was stopped to update the packaging.

But production was only stopped for 2 weeks to fix the actual Soylent.

Why not be honest in the email instead of sugar coating it?

"Production has ramped up slower than expected, and along with a two week stoppage to improve the Soylent formula, your order will unfortunately be delayed by an extra 8 to 10 weeks. "


#7

You must not work in Marketing or PR I bet :slight_smile:


#8

Is it that obvious :stuck_out_tongue:


#9

I think only shipping of packaged product was halted, but production continued through those two weeks. If that is indeed the case, it’s unclear to me why the recent email uses the confusing language it does.


#10

This update actually said production was not stopped:

What you can expect is that shipping speed will increase (we’ve built some inventory as we were still manufacturing product while shipping itself was paused) and we will be continuously evaluating the customer experience as more and more people try Soylent 1.0 for the first time. If you receive Soylent 1.0 and get a feedback survey email, please take it! Your thoughts and experiences seriously matter!

They should work on having a consistent message.

BTW, does anyone know what the packaging changes are? Have they reduced the size of the shipping package? Everything I read on people re-shipping indicate that the Solent packaging uses twice as much space as was needed.


#11

Probably because emails to “buyers” have to be worded more carefully (aka spun) than communications to “investors” or backers. There is a difference in the crowdfunding phase and the sales phase in terms of perception I would imagine. It certainly isn’t as bad as it would have been if it had been written by politicians… imagine that spin!! lol


#12

Very cool, and thanks!


#13

By packaging I believe they mean the inserts going into the packaging (the instructions) - rather than the size of the boxes, but I could be wrong.


#14

It doesn’t look like there were any other packaging changes. Julio went on to say that the longer-term plans are, as Ana described, continue to improve the formula via R&D and eventually update the product.


#15

I agree the email is a falsehood. It should have gone something like this:
Unfortunately the shipping estimate we provided when you ordered was too optimistic. We recently halted shipping for 2 weeks [delay explanation here] and coming off that delay we are now prepared to forecast that your shipment will take another 8-10 weeks. We are sorry for the delay.

The proximate cause of this delay is bad estimating. A 2 week shipping delay that doesn’t include a halt to production has no affect on a product that has at least 8 weeks before it will ship. The problem with acknowledging this is that it raises the question of why the inevitable delay wasn’t communicated sooner. This is where you can point to the shipping delay and say well we knew we weren’t going to make the deadline, but we wanted to get that ironed out before we contacted you.

Ana, I would like to know why the website is currently offering Soylent for delivery in 10-12 weeks when ordered right now? I could maybe see this being remotely possible, but it seems far safer to under promise and over deliver and extend that window to a more reasonable timeframe so you aren’t still having to send out apology emails 12 weeks from now.


#16

The Soylent 1.0 for backers should have ‘Not intended for retail (or individual) sale’ nice and big bold font (and in red) on the packages. At least I don’t recall that being there if it does happen to already be on the package. Just as an additional measure to discourage the resale of the product on auction sites where pictures of the product are a large part of the transaction. Yes, it won’t do anything significant, but it does put doubt in the second hand buyers and makes it slightly more difficult for those taking advantage of the slow start.


#17

Why was there such a big push on getting the idea of the product out before new customers were even able to get their hands on it? I followed production for several months before placing my first order and noticed an increase of awareness here, facebook and blogs. Was word of mouth not enough? I am not complaining by any means, but have had to let friends know that if they were interested in the product, they’d have to wait 6 months to actually receive it. Perhaps it would have been a better strategy to wait until the majority of early backers had their product to advertise so much. However, hindsight is always 20/20.


#18

[quote=“Petre, post:15, topic:15614”]
Ana, I would like to know why the website is currently offering Soylent for delivery in 10-12 weeks when ordered right now? I could maybe see this being remotely possible, but it seems far safer to under promise and over deliver and extend that window to a more reasonable timeframe so you aren’t still having to send out apology emails 12 weeks from now.
[/quote]This has been pointed out in other threads. I think the company is worried that their order-flow (and cash-flow) might dry up once they get through their backlog.

It is interesting that they continue to over-promise to new customers. You’d think they would learn by now that they should be much more conservative.


#19

Actually it is on the package, but not very big. I remember seeing it, but took a minute to find again.


#20

Thanks, I can see why I didn’t remember seeing it. Anyone that’s ever taken a selfie can position that package to hide that line, so it’s not really effective in messing with internet resale. I guess my concept of making it big (bigger than the Soylent label) and unavoidable may not be practical if the reseller has Gimp/Photoshop or it leads people to think the product is called ‘not for resale’ instead of soylent.