Uno Noteband boss: 'We only get one shot'

CEO Mark Long fills us in on the long delays for the first Spritz wearable

Take a look at the Uno Noteband's Indiegogo page and you'll see that there have been a lot of comments from the crowdfunding community. 681 comments, in fact. And not many of those are friendly.

"It's been 3 weeks since an update you fucking scumbags," says John Clemente.

"If any one had any doubt in their mind about whether this was a scam or not now you know it definitely is," adds benw613.

"I tried getting refunds through my credit card and paypal‚Ķ..can't even do that since it has been so long! This is ridiculous ‚Äď no updates, no survey, just filed a complaint with FTC and Indiegogo, not that I have much hope," exclaims rjg8971.

Josh Colt doesn't use words to express himself. He's simply fathomed a middle finger gesture out of commas and forward-slashes.

You get the idea.

People are angry. And they have every reason to be. The campaign was 260% funded when it closed in February. Shipping was estimated for April. It's now November, and backers are in the dark as to when they will receive their Notebands.

However, Wareable has been informed that the product is expected to officially launch on Black Friday ‚Äď 27 November in December (we've just been informed the launch has been pushed a week or so).

The company's CEO Mark Long told us that the delays are due to design changes and that his main concern is getting the device perfect.

"Indiegogo and crowdfunding lets you get amazing feedback and we've added some features based on that," he told us. "We're just a tiny company and we're doing the best we can. With crowdfunding you don't have one or two investors, you have thousands of them.

"After 21 years in the game industry, I learned to grow a thick skin," he added. "The one thing people never forgive is shipping a product too soon; that isn't ready or is kind of half-arsed.

"I hear and read all of the comments but I try to turn a deaf ear to it. I just want it to be as good as possible. We only get one shot. If we ship this thing and people say it's crap then we're done."

The former Zombie Studios head explained that, after trying various Noteband samples over the last few months ‚Äď and comparing them to existing wearables such as the Jawbone UP3 and the Nike Fuelband ‚Äď they've managed to make the final product around 10% smaller than the original design, and much lighter.

"We spent a lot of the time tweaking the band, he said. "We went back and forth on the material and the stiffness. It's so light and small that you forget you have it on until it vibrates.

"We're making improvements every time we get a new sample," he added. "Improving the strength of the magnet, changing the way it charges, making it waterproof and so on. Those are all engineering changes and it makes it take longer. It has taken us longer to engineer this thing than we thought."

The Uno Noteband acts as a notifier on your wrist, letting you speed read whatever messages you choose to see, using Spritz technology.

"Spritz is cool but it just hasn't found a market yet," Long explained. "People love it but nothing's really happened with it.

"I just think it's perfect for wearables. It solves a number of problems so we decided to engineer a device around it. The design concept is let's just do one thing, really simply.

"It has to be a watch, it has to do fitness tracking but crucially, it has to do notifications. I think that's the one compelling use case."

Hopefully users will agree. The company plans a wider launch for the Noteband in the new year.


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  • nolangjohnson·

    As a backer of this project since February 2015, this has been worth waiting for. Though Uno has been targeting gamers as their key audience, this band also looks to be uniquely positioned for certain kinds of outdoor activities as well ... and that's why I'm willing to wait while Uno gets it just right.

    See, I'm a sailor. When spending a day on the river, racing or training, My hands are constantly occupied. And my phone is at risk of loss or water damage if it's not safely stowed down below. Bluetooth headsets just don't cut it:  earbuds reduce my ambient hearing capabilities and voice commands to Google or Siri get lost in the background wind noise. Furthermore, I don't want to be making/taking calls or pushing watch buttons while sailing, but I *do* have a need to track email or text messages from shore even when I'm skippering my crew through a difficult maneuver. The Notifications use case Long mentions, which works for gamers, will also work for sailors...and drivers... bicyclists and motorcyclists... sailboarders... woodworkers and potters... you get the idea. Oh, and the fitness tracking information is super helpful as well -- because all these activities are get-fit-by-living-life activities that provide surprising levels fitness training. 

    As you can see, the Uno looks to be just about PERFECT for my needs. That UNO took time to make it lighter, stronger, longer battery life, and more waterproof has been worth the wait time for me and what I want it to do for me. 

    And, as a regular reader of the comments section for this product, it's also clear that the complainants have a number of key factors in common:  first-time indiegogo investor; impatience; and a tendency to be a moving-target-complainer. You know the type - Uno resolves their complaint and that same person starts complaining about something else, or complaining that UNO was too slow, or whatever. While Long is correct to point out the special challenges that crowdfunding brings with its many, many investors, it's also important to point out that crowdfunding participants need to get some maturity about the risk inherent in crowdfunding (they're investing/sponsoring/funding, not purchasing), and the size of their exposure.  If all these angry folk took a more business-like approach to their involvement, then maybe they wouldn't behave like they expect a "brand new Maserati" level of personal attention from the CEO in return for their $80 "tank of gas" buy-in price.

  • ronsamson·

    I totally understand what Mr. Long said. 

    However, after 24+ years in the military I know that when something goes wrong (i.e.; a missed delivery date), or there is an unexpected challenge (engineering change), and people are effected in a negative way, information must be passed down quickly or finger pointing and rumors will begin. 

    That is exactly what has happened. Mr. Long's statement about "having to get it right the first time" is dead on. However, when they knew the April shipping date would be missed they should have come out immediately and told the backers via Facebook or better yet, an email (they had our addresses).They should have addressed the "getting it right" challenge. Then follow that with an announcement that shipping would be delayed. 

    Every two weeks put out something addressing the progress of the development and manufacturing until shipment was a viable target. 

    This is Monday morning quarterbacking at its best. But it would have gone a long way to appease the backers, many of whom are beyond understanding the problems of the Uno organization.  

  • babblin5·

    So, Paul, how about an update on this article? The only reason people are complaining is because Mr. Long doesn't seem to find it necessary to communicate to the people that made it possible, we, the backers. I'm sorry, but when your last communication is, "Hey! We have the product and are ready to ship as soon as you sign off on your shipping address" and then silence and no fulfillment, do you think you would be prone to think positive things about Mr. Long and the UNO project? Any criticism or nastiness Long turns a deaf ear to are self-made. So what he really told you in the article is, "I turn a deaf ear to common sense and my own self-conscience."

  • Mauigir1·

    My Uno Noteband arrived today, one year after their initial shipping date. This was to replace my Pebble while I waited for version II of the Apple Watch. I bought an Apple Watch 6 months ago. Will be putting this up on eBay.