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.