Update #16: MEGA UPDATE! Back from China! Faith in Production Partners AUGMENTED! What we learned:

by Jun Yu Phang June 26, 2019

Harmonious Hellos!

All development is on track to deliver by end October. All extension pack card designs are complete! We just need to finalise all descriptions, rules and base game designs, then we're good to start production. We're going to Essen Spiel from 24th-27th October with hopes to sell Lord of the Chords there after all, so we have to have stock! Will any of you be going to Spiel? Could we stay with you? Let us know! Anyway, we had a great time in China meeting our 3 production partners (in chronological order):

1. SFC - our Fulfilment & Shipping partner

Before meeting them:

Before meeting our correspondent Libby, all we saw of the company was their website, emails and the text messages in WeChat conversations. So we naturally felt a little uncertain about everything, despite the great reviews. Going to their office in Shen Zhen and actually meeting Libby was wonderful! She was delightfully cheerful and enthusiastic to iron out all the details of fulfilment with us.

Something Interesting:

She took us to lunch at the company cafetaria after business discussions. Something interesting we noticed as we walked back to the office after lunch to get our stuff was that all the employees were sleeping at their desks! We asked Libby about it, and she explained that it’s normal office culture in China for employees to take 30 minutes to have lunch, then use the remaining hour of lunch to take a nap. They even switch off the lights to make it more conducive for napping!

Something else that we learned there was that the founder of SFC is actually a Canadian-Chinese person  named John Sun who worked with Ebay/Amazon back in the day, and saw the need for a good shipping and fulfilment solution, which led him to go to China to set up SendFromChina.

After Meeting Them:

After meeting with our fulfilment partner, we saw how professional they are, with a deeper understanding of all their processes, so we feel a lot more confident that your packages will get to you promptly from the moment we press the go button for shipping.

The standard Lord of the Chords selfie with Libby! Please post pictures like these and tag us on instagram when you receive copy of the game!
The standard Lord of the Chords selfie with Libby! Please post pictures like these and tag us on instagram when you receive copy of the game!
SFC's background part 1
SFC's background part 1
SFC Company History Part 2
SFC Company History Part 2
Libby showing us the packaging options for other games. The game she picked to demo with just so happened to be Debtzilla from our friends over at Capital Gains Studios!
Libby showing us the packaging options for other games. The game she picked to demo with just so happened to be Debtzilla from our friends over at Capital Gains Studios!
The many processes they have in place to keep things running on time
The many processes they have in place to keep things running on time
And the many awards they've won!
And the many awards they've won!

Next, we travelled to Hu Zhou to meet with...

2. IdealPro, our box manufacturing partner!

Before meeting them...

Before we met them in person, we were already confident about IdealPro’s capabilities, based on their ratings, accolades and euro-centric customer base, even though we had only communicated via email and WeChat. What we didn't expect was how rich in values their team was.

Something interesting about this encounter was that...

IdealPro was extremely hospitable to us. They paid for our hotel, drove us everywhere, paid for all our meals and even took us sightseeing. That’s how they do business in China I guess. 关系. Relationship building. 

Fred, their marketing manager, was the first person to greet us from the hotel. He took us to the company's factory and office earlier in the day, and took the chance to tell us more about the company's history and future.

What we loved was what Fred shared with us about the company’s direction. He said that they’re investing in youth, so that we could grow together. Fred claimed that IdealPro has many many success stories of college-student-entrepreneurs from all over the world coming up with ideas, putting them on Kickstarter/Indiegogo, manufacturing with IdealPro and becoming huge successes together. For example, the highly successful home workout equipment Body Boss 2.0 kickstarter was a collaboration between IdealPro and Body Boss! Another company that found great success working together with IdealPro is Robo3D, who even IPO'ed in 2016! They worked together on the insanely successful Robo3D Printer.

The Big Difference Between Success and Failure

Fred said that they had countless similar success stories. So I did what any normal person would do - I asked, "What about stories of failure?" He was completely frank and said that there were countless stories of failures as well. I followed up by asking, "So tell me. What's was the main difference between the successes and failures?" He said that the failure stories usually happen when their clients were older folk from big corporate backgrounds, because these older folk tended to not be willing listen to and take feedback from IdealPro when they advised that a certain product couldn't be manufactured a certain way, for example. So that's the big secret! Listen carefully to the advice of your manufacturing partners!

After meeting them...

After seeing their factories in person, meeting the people making things happen, and understanding the manufacturing process for our box, we’re even more confident of delivering a great product to you. We look forward to many more projects with IdealPro.

From left to right: Alice - our account manager, Alex - the general manager, Fred - the sales manager, Lao Wang - the lead engineer on the mould for our piano box, which they endearingly call “SingBox” (direct translation)
From left to right: Alice - our account manager, Alex - the general manager, Fred - the sales manager, Lao Wang - the lead engineer on the mould for our piano box, which they endearingly call “SingBox” (direct translation)
Their collection of 3D printed prototypes
Their collection of 3D printed prototypes

Their office. They hire all sorts of engineers to help folks like us design and manufacture anything fathomable

Friendly (ie passive aggressive (that was a joke)) discussions over box design details
Friendly (ie passive aggressive (that was a joke)) discussions over box design details
Keith havin’ a good time checking whether or not everything would fit nicely into their 3D printed prototype of the box #ahegao #dontgooglethat
Keith havin’ a good time checking whether or not everything would fit nicely into their 3D printed prototype of the box #ahegao #dontgooglethat
Alex telling us that the super-white coloured keys we wanted isn’t possible, only almost super-white, but that's okay because most humans won’t notice
Alex telling us that the super-white coloured keys we wanted isn’t possible, only almost super-white, but that's okay because most humans won’t notice
Considering what sort of retail box we would like
Considering what sort of retail box we would like
How we knew this was a trustworthy engineering company - they stuck a magnet to their whiteboard duster with tape, and attached a magnetic bolt to their glassboard
How we knew this was a trustworthy engineering company - they stuck a magnet to their whiteboard duster with tape, and attached a magnetic bolt to their glassboard
Keith being Keith - Genius
Keith being Keith - Genius
Jun Yu being Jun Yu (translating Keith-speak to Human-speak)
Jun Yu being Jun Yu (translating Keith-speak to Human-speak)
"Why did we have to design such a complicated box..."
"Why did we have to design such a complicated box..."

Your piano boxes will likely be manufactured in a similar machine, with a similar method. They have so many of these machines there, it's crazy!

Fred instructed Alice to take us sightseeing and stuff! We were not expecting this
Fred instructed Alice to take us sightseeing and stuff! We were not expecting this
They also took us to a temple
They also took us to a temple
Further inside
Further inside
This hotel is a giant O! (We didn't stay here)
This hotel is a giant O! (We didn't stay here)
And it lights up like this at night! Cool, huh?
And it lights up like this at night! Cool, huh?
We were having lunch when this calligraphy artist started painting in the middle of nowhere! We knew we had to get one for ourselves. It says “Yin Xian Wang” (read right to left) which means "music harmony king", ie Lord of the Chords
We were having lunch when this calligraphy artist started painting in the middle of nowhere! We knew we had to get one for ourselves. It says “Yin Xian Wang” (read right to left) which means "music harmony king", ie Lord of the Chords

The painting in real time - mesmerising

After 3 days in Hu Zhou and a lot of discussions and delicious food, we said our goodbyes for now and left for...

3. Whatz Games - Our Board Game Manufacturing partner 

Before we met them..

We knew they would be great, because our friends over at Codomo, who created Potato Pirates, recommended Whatz Games to us, but we had no idea that they would be this awesome!

Something interesting was...

Their meeting room!!! You'll see the pictures below. It's absolutely incredible.

We forgot to catch a photo with the staff, as it was a very short meeting,  but Wally, the director of WhatzGames was very helpful and frank with us.

He showed us around, and walked us through aspects of our order that were unfeasible, including the fact that we were offering spanish and german versions even though we didn’t even have 200 orders for them. Yes. We fugue'd up! We won’t be able to offer the Spanish and German versions of the game, as mentioned in the previous update.

German versions of the Note cards are not affected by this change. In fact, everyone will get the extra German H notes. Non-German backers simply have to remove/throw away those extra cards.

Something interesting about their factory was that they have proprietary technology that they didn’t want us to film, because it’s what allows them to have a quality of cards that other card game manufacturers aren’t able to replicate! That's why we only have one video of their manufacturing process (below).

After we met them...

We're much more clear on the logistics and what can and can't be produced, for future games. Wally really knocked some sense into us, and we're now better of,f, operationally. We have better confidence of delivering Lord of the Chords to you on time, and at high quality!

The whole compound is theirs

Their huge front lobby
Their huge front lobby

Their super fast printing process

We're considering doing a retail box like this (aka window box) so that we can more prominently show the piano box design in stores
We're considering doing a retail box like this (aka window box) so that we can more prominently show the piano box design in stores

Finally,

Whatz the process of everything?

Whatz will happen is whatz will make the game components, while idealpro will make the box. IdealPro will send the box over to Whatz, then Whatz will put the game into the box, ship it over to SFC, then SFC will get it over to you.

That's all, folks! Thanks for reading everything, let us know what you think in the comments down below! It's been an incredible journey and we're so happy to take you along with it, because we wouldn't be on this journey without you. That's why we put so much effort into documenting everything for you to see! We can't thank you enough! Keep on enjoying your music (:

- Jon, Jun Yu and Keith




Jun Yu Phang
Jun Yu Phang

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