The factory roadtrip | Lekker update #1

Hi Lekkertjes,

Enormous thanks for supporting the Lekker switch project. I can’t describe the importance of the pre-orders for the Lekker switch development. If you would have not supported us, then we would consider redirecting all our efforts and forego innovation for the time being.

We love progression, we love it so much, that it hurts our sales and bottom line 😅. The launch helped us regain lost opportunities and continue to push innovation. It also creates an environment for us to tweak the final product versus pushing it quickly to market for a faster return on investment.

So, again, thanks a lot for supporting the Lekker switch project and your confidence in us. Let’s look at how things are going.

Pre-order performance

We didn’t sell out all thousand keyboards, aww. But that was also outside our expectations. This was the first pre-order launch on our online store instead of Kickstarter.

We wanted to shake off this sentiment of being a “Kickstarter” company, conceived as people exploiting the platform and using it as a pre-order/discount platform. Honestly, we’re a bit of idealists. All we want is to communicate a clear message that resonates: you and us together making impactful products, honestly and transparently.

We noticed from our previous Kickstarter that our initial boost was always generated by our fan base and that we attracted a lot of new users from outside the platform.

So, when we decided to launch it on our online store we expected to get the same boost but weren’t sure what’d happen afterward. This meant selling at least 200-300 on launch day. We tried our best to create a hype and scarcity, a first for us, to get a good boost on the first day. It got us a bit over 300 on launch. So we reached our goal 🥳.

The sales dropped very fast after only a few days. On a crowdfunding platform, the sales usually slow down over a week. Now, it was almost the day after. Oooffff.

We hadn’t created any steady stream of (new) traffic (users) to our Lekker Edition. So, how would people even know it exists? Let alone, those early adopters, the pioneers, the status-quo breakers.

This is a big difference from a crowdfunding platform that will organically create traffic for your project. So, we fired up an (unlisted) video advertisement (did it reach you?) on Instagram and youtube. And got to work on creating more awareness for the project with social posts and email blasts.

Now we’re at 411, that’s nearly 100 additional sales in October. Not too shabby 👍. In contrary to a Kickstarter, this project availability stops at 1000 pieces and not on a specific date. It gives us a bit more runway.

If you have some fresh ideas or suggestions on how we can best market or create more awareness for the Lekker Edition, please let us know. We’re always hungry for ideas and opinions.

China Factory visits

Jeroen, Kevin and I went to China for over a week in October. The goal was to visit different partnering factories and assess some new factories. Including our Lekker switch and keyboard manufacturer. I had brought my camera with me to create vlogs (releasing next week) and we even did a livestream from China.

It was quite the trip, we went around Dongguan area visiting different factories before we headed to Zhaoqing, where our keyboard assembly factory is located. Unfortunately, Zhaoqing is a 3-hour drive from Dongguan and after visiting our assembly factory we had to head back to Dongguan 😿. Dongguan is a densely populated manufacturing area for electronics including keyboards.

It’s really hard to imagine how incredible large China is. The area we traveled around is about 1/3 the size of the whole Netherlands. It’s only 8% of its (Guangdong) province size. The Netherlands fits about 4.5 times in Guangdong province and this province covers a bit less than 2% of China. Woah, I come from a small country.

Color precision

One of the first visits was our keycap manufacturer. We had to confirm the keycap colors and appoint a “golden sample”.

Weeks before the trip, we were on a hunt for physical color samples for the Lekker Edition. We had already decided on the Pantone colors, but we quickly found out that the Pantone color alone was far from sufficient. There’s a whole science behind colors, quite amazing how difficult it can get.

In short, Pantone is one of the industry standards for colors. However, it is purely directive, it’s near impossible to determine a universal color recipe that anybody can follow. Even with digital graphic designs on your computer. The colors on your screen will be different from other screens and it’s near impossible to control them.

You can already try this at home with two different screens (PC, smartphone). Try viewing our iconic 333C pantone color on two different screens and notice how it’s different. Every brand, model and screen technology deal differently with colors and the mix of essentially red green and blue (RGB).

This same concept is also true for the raw materials, printers, plastic injection, anodization or anything producing a color. This is why Pantone colors are a directive, not a 100% accurate recipe. The best way to deal with this is by creating or finding a physical color sample of the same material. Then the manufacturer can compare the different results with the physical sample.

I went to a Lego store together with Kevin to find Lego pieces that closely matches our desired Pantone. The quality and color accuracy of lego is simply amazing. We found some really dope colors, but none of them hit the mark.

Kevin in the meanwhile went on the hunt for the official Patone plastic chips. These are accurate plastic samples of the Pantone colors. They sell at 20$ per color chip, but you can rarely buy a single chip and it’s surprisingly difficult to find a local vendor with stock.

Thankfully, Kevin is resourceful and Taiwan is full of surprises. Kevin was able to get his hands on the Pantone plastic chips for our 3 Pantone colors: 333C, 289C and 7548C. The C stands for the plastic variant.

Pantone Lekker EditionPantone plastic piece cut out

Sinds we were only able to get 1 sample of each color, Kevin proceeded to cut the color chips into 4 equal bits and sent it out to the manufacturers. The first complaint we got back was how small the sample was, haha. If they’d know how precious it is.

The keycap manufacturer had prepared 3 color samples based on our Pantone sample. Each result had a slight variance in color saturation. We marked the color sample with the closest result and called this the “Golden sample”. The golden sample is the reference sample for color, finish and material.

We went through the same process with the plastic injection factory for the bottom case. We already had a first sample, which you can also find back in our product pictures. This sample was far too blue. It was so blue that with the yellow flip-out feet it looked like an IKEA keyboard (sample A). This is why we changed from our original Pantone 296 to 289 and used physical samples to confirm the final color. At the factory they already finished a new sample (B) but it had still too much blue inside.

Our goal is to get the Navy blue effect, when you see it, you might mistaken it for black but when you compare it to black, it’s definitely blue. We also like to call it Midnight blue.

The manufacturer tuned the raw material and was finally able to get the exact color we were looking for (Sample C). I’m quite confident that you’re going to love the result, I’ve already gone all crazy and started to color everything midnight blue (hex: 0C2340, but you can also use 000333 for screens).

Bottom case samples lekker edition
There are still 2 parts pending for final confirmation:

  • Top plate anodization
  • Stabilizers stems

Particularly the first, top plate anodization, is tricky. Since we have a custom color (midnight blue), we had to purchase an oxidation tank to retain the color. However, we only have 3 months after approving the sample to do a production. If we wait for longer, the color will start to deteriorate and not match our golden sample anymore. This also means they’ll need to calibrate the color tank again, costing quite some time.

Lekker switch development

We also visited the switch manufacturer for the Lekker switch. We were allowed to record quite a lot of different machines and processes, which was great. We in particularly inspected the automated assembly machine for the Lekker switch. It was ready to mass-produce the switch in its current state and only needed a few more optimizations.

However, there’s been something lingering internally. The current switch design has a fixed “click” system. Meaning that you can’t easily pull out that switch from the keyboard with a tool. You’ll need to pop it out from the back. It has 4 large hooks that hook into the plate and tightly fit it into the plate. This means it’s not hot-swappable.

Hook switch

We initially weren’t opting for this design, but we sided with it since it would ensure a very stable fit in the plate combatting any type of “wiggle” issues. We also lacked switch making experience to come up with a better solution and we didn’t want to re-invent the wheel. Technology first, mechanics second.

But…. It didn’t feel entirely right and now with more experience and knowledge than before, we wanted to explore one more road before making the final call. Rember my first paragraph? Thanks to the support, we have more confidence to make risky decisions.

That’s why we opened a new bottom case sample to test a different click system. It’s a bit too early to share about it now, but I promise to follow this up once I have the samples.

More coming….

That’s the progress for now. The factory vlogs are in the making and will release soon. Within the next month, we’ll start showing more in-depth the Lekker switch prototype; we’ll talk about the new Rapid Trigger feature. It’s a real game-changer!

<3

Calder,

Talk with us 👇👇

 

Calder Limmen Written by:

Founder of Wooting. Entrepreneur, gamer and any(thing)thusiast living in Taiwan.

12 Comments

  1. Z.P.
    November 13, 2019
    Reply

    Hello Wooting team,

    thank you for this entry. I know the pain with color matching (only with paper, but different printing processes). And I’m thankful you went with the darker color (phew…). I was initially slightly worried about the (almost) bright blue.
    I appreciate your work on the mounting of the switches. Looking forward to/for updates :). But tell us, pretty please, something about the feel and sound of the switch. I think those are another important areas. And what about pressing them off center? Hope they will not get too rough/sluggish. 😉

    Thank you for sharing. This is great!
    Best wishes!
    Z.P.

    • November 14, 2019
      Reply

      You and me, I’m a sucker for midnight blue and it was part of our original design. haha.

      I will receive a few new Lekker samples with small adjustments to the stem. I’ll write up a mini update with some details of what we did. Pressing off-centre, sound and feel are exactly the things we focused on.

  2. November 13, 2019
    Reply

    So…. Calder… what are you doing with the Sample A case?
    Any chance of you throwing it my way? x’D I really like that color.

    Looking forward to receiving my keyboard either way!

    .>

    • November 14, 2019
      Reply

      😀 Yeah, it has its charm. We will use the brighter blue for a few prototypes, and then, well then then.

      The Midnight blue samples are not made for use (it’s a bit warped due to focus on color not structure). So we don’t use it for the prototypes yet.

  3. asker
    November 14, 2019
    Reply

    I respect your integrity in not using Kickstarter as a preorder platform. I’ve been interested in this keyboard since the Lekker switch was announced and I really wish that you guys get enough orders to continue the development. For me personally though, (and I’m sure you get this a lot?) the color scheme of this keyboard make it incompatible with the rest of my PC equipment. It would just stand out too much on my desk. So I’m holding out for a black or white one.

    I guess I’m writing this to tell you guys that the interest for your keyboards might be bigger than your pre-order numbers indicate.

    • November 14, 2019
      Reply

      We don’t necessarily get it a lot, but you’re not the first to raise this point. We knew we’d be making a compromise by going a bit more wild with the colors. It’s good that you do share this, since it gives us faith in the direction we’re taking.

      thanks!

  4. Ian
    November 14, 2019
    Reply

    I’m a big fan of your Lekker switch project, but not of the Lekker Edition keyboard: I don’t like the colour (sorry!) and really want a one-handed version.

    I’ll continue to follow your progress though, Hopefully, one day, you’ll build my one-handed, Lekker, in black. 🙂

  5. Jesse
    November 14, 2019
    Reply

    It honestly isn’t a bad idea to repeatedly use kickstarter while you’re still relatively small, but in my opinion, at this point advertising is important.
    I say this because I only found out about you LAST MONTH, even though I follow tech reviewers occasionally. It’s a shame you’re not well known yet.

    As for the lekker edition, I’m really interest in the better switches – I was considering getting a Wooting Two, but since you teased a upgraded switch, I decided to It atleast wait it out.
    The keyboard itself reminds me of some Ducky keyboards – It’s not that the colors are bad, but they’re just all over the place and that makes it a bit less appealing for some of us who prefer a more “professional” look or something that matches with the rest of the rig.
    I’m not trying to be rude or tell you how to design your stuff as I’m no artist myself, but from a purely aesthetic point of view, I would probably recommend avoiding vivid pastel-ish colors.

    I believe the future is in these kind of keyboards (and hopefully mouses in the future)
    For now the switches are mostly a gimmick, but once some big name software/game developers start taking advantage of their unique properties, and with a bit of advertising, I believe your keyboards popularity will skyrocket.

    Best of luck to you!

  6. Alexander
    November 19, 2019
    Reply

    Hello.
    Regarding the sales performance issues. I found wooting accidently, researching for my first mechanical keyboard, when first saw it in this video https://hardwarecanucks.com/gaming-keyboards-mice/these-are-keyboards-you-need-to-know-about/
    Afterwards, I looked specifically and liked everything, all the reviews were positive, Trello is open for everyone to read, which is cool. Maybe exposure through reviewers on YouTube or other expos will help as other ads are all the same now, but some personal advertising with opinions of real people could be more efficient in this niche. Big ones will probably ask for money, but small ones could be interested themselves as your product is unique and well executed. Advertisement of all wooting keyboards should drive sales of lekker as for me it seems like a “wooting 2 pro edition in funky colours”. The colours are not for everyone, but I personally wouldn’t buy a lekker if it was black as almost all keyboards are black, which is a bit boring, so, with this decision someone you lose, someone you gain. Thank you for your work and good luck.

  7. Evelyn
    November 21, 2019
    Reply

    For the love of all unholy piss please tell me you guys are planning on selling these switches eventually? It’s my dream switch, and then I read here it supports analog input on top of everything which I hadn’t considered before. This is literally the switch I want to put into every input device I own and until I found you guys I had believed that it’ll never happen.

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