Yeah, I think the problem with this approach, while seemingly brilliant on the surface, is that it is not sustainable for the first round of pre-orders, and would make it harder to Rosa to move into the next phase of shipping (re-orders and subscriptions).
Let’s say in the first shipping period you ship the first month of multiple-month orders to X number of people. You’ve got enough Soylent left to ship the entire orders of Y number of people. Let’s assume that Y is smaller than X, given supply constraints.
Then, during the next shipping period (or the one after that, maybe), you now have X’s second month orders to deal with, plus another Y group. Each month, X gets smaller and Y gets larger, until everyone has their Soylent.
The benefit is that more people get thier Soylent in the first month, but that’s assuming that the constraint is the amount of Soylent on hand. Perhaps the bottleneck is actually the number of shipments (logisitcs, management, etc.). In fact, it might be nearly as fast to ship 4 boxes to one customer as it would be to ship just 1. In that case, your plan provides literally no benefit, and instead create a non-zero percentage of additional overhead, due to the larger number of shipments.
But we can’t be sure of that, you may be right. But, either way, there are multiple obvious downsides:
Considerably larger number of overall shipments, at a greater total cost.
While a number of smaller orders would ship sooner, the total pre-order shipping period would not be much shorter (if any shorter), and due to the larger number of shipments, the final pre-orders could actually go out even later than planned.
The early smaller orders (the first Y group) are now starting their re-orders sooner than before, which means even more shipments during the pre-order shipping period, meaning both greater risk of shipping delays, and considerably less tolerance for shipping delays.
Multiple-month orders would also be starting their subscriptions immediately, which again, introduces more risk earlier in the process as well as less tolerance for failure.
Many multiple-month orders are actually intended for multiple people in a single household. These people would be negatively impacted. Some would wait for their second shipment to begin using their Soylent, which would defeat the purpose and in effect put them at the back of the line but without giving up their place in line to anyone else.
The pre-order shipping period would overlap entirely with the on-going subscription shipping stage, robbing the Soylent team of any opportunity to re-group or apply lessons learned.
Now, the longer the pre-order shipping period, the greater each these problems become. However, assuming the best case scenario that there are only one or two “Y” groups, and that all of the pre-orders are shipped by the end of May, before anyone needs to reorder (fingers crossed), then these issues would be reduced but not eliminated, but… any practical benefit of your proposal would also be reduced. The shorter it takes to ship out the first orders, the less value this idea provides, while on the order hand, the longer it takes to ship out the first orders, the worse this idea becomes. It’s a lose-lose.
Ironically, your post about the pitfalls of scaling too early apply directly to your plan, which requires Rosa Labs to scale into production mode immediately. Fulfilling pre-orders by size allows them to focus on making their first customers (as a total group) happy in the simplest way possible with the lowest amount of overhead, before pivoting into sustainable production.