There’s no denying that being a startup can be tough and often entails a journey marked by ups and downs. For South Korean 3D printer startup Team Owl Works, things began promisingly enough as it successfully raised over $244,000 dollars through a 2016 Kickstarter to bring its Morpheus delta resin 3D printer to life. Since then, however, things seem to have stagnated somewhat with the company which has recently drawn concern from backers of the project.
German startup Locomotec was one of Team Owl Works’ early clients as it put a deposit down for one of its resin 3D printers in October 2016. When it did not receive any updates on the 3D printer development after three months, the startup understandably grew concerned. When it requested a refund on its deposit shortly thereafter and did not receive it, it became even more concerned.
A couple of weeks ago, the Ausburg-based startup reached out to 3D Printing Media Network to follow-up on Team Owl Works and its Morpheus 3D printer. Looking into the matter, we found that Locomotec was not the only concerned backer of Owl Works, as the Morpheus’ Kickstarter comments are rampant with customers who have become impatient and frustrated at the startup’s lack of updates and communication. (As of writing, the most recent update by Owl Works was January 12, 2018.)
Superbacker Tom Harris commented on June 6th saying: “It is pretty simple. If you are not going to deliver, just be honest and tell everyone. If you are going to deliver, make a reasonable estimate on when and let us know.”
Backer [TheGusman], who is a beta tester for the Morpheus 3D printer, offered some insight on May 17th in the Kickstarter forum: “Unfortunately, I feel they may have given up, and this campaign has failed. I don’t even think the technology is cutting edge as it would have been a year ago, There are more and more consumer resin printers being introduced that produce really amazing results, for the same cost as this campaign…They were pretty responsive a few months ago during my initial testing, but now after several emails, and Facebook messages they do not respond, not a good sign, I hope I am wrong.”
We reached out to Team Owl Works to ask about these growing concerns from its Kickstarter supporters and did receive a response from SJ Park, the leader of the company, who aimed to clear up the matter.
He writes: “Thanks for delivering our valued backers’ concern on our project. As you guessed, we’ve had difficulties in getting the final product of ‘delta’ from the concept and spent lots of money & time beyond my expectations since 2017. However, thanks to our backers’ patience, we could almost finalize the development and are ready to produce the commercial prototype for backers although there are still some difficulties (we already shipped about 80 units for backers, in fact). I’ll update it for backers in a week; status, reason why we’re late, and a plan (delivery & refund).”
“Although we’re late (and there is some ambiguity on our future), we’ll not give up the project and will deliver the reward (or refund) for our valued backers. We’re serious on that,” he added.
So, while Team Owl Works still has issues it must overcome, Park has promised to provide a more specific update which will hopefully bring its backers up to speed on the company’s challenges and, importantly, solutions.
At this point, we hope that things work out for all parties involved. Though sadly, another complicated 3D printer Kickstarter might deter future backers from putting their money into startups from the crowdfunding website. Last year, backers of the Tiko 3D printer were aggrieved to learn that their pledges would not be refunded for the 3D printer, which in hindsight was always too good to be true. In 2016, we saw an even more egregious use of Kickstarter funds when the owner of Peachy Printer embezzled 50% of its Kickstarter funds for personal use.
Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like Team Owl Works will disappoint its backers on the same scale, but we will keep a close eye on future updates and developments on the story.