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What happened to the Orukayak?

-- Last Updated: Mar-28-13 1:52 PM EST --

Last Fall and Winter some of us had noticed the hype around the start-up company that was pre-selling the Orukayak (as in "Origami kayak") that was supposed to weigh around 25 lbs, be sea worthy and fold up to the size of an art student portfolio. Other than one guy posting a test paddle he got to take during a promo outing in California 3 months ago I have heard nothing new about these or whether any of the promised early shipments went out,'

Looking at the company's slick website I see no new blog posts since January and initial delivery dates have slid from March to July now. Anybody heard anything about these odd craft and whether the product is legit? Or did the promoters just take the cash from their successful kickstarter fund appeal and abscond to Tahiti?

Maybe that $800 to $900 price point turned out to be impracticable.



  • marketing hype
  • Options
    as I said before
    -- Last Updated: Mar-28-13 5:16 PM EST --

    Hugely skeptical about whole foldable-plastic-thingy. It's not the price-point that is impracticable, I daresay whole idea is rather impracticable for non-ideal conditions of "real life". The fact they do not have a lot of videos showing off foldability, stiffness of the boat, getting in/out on the water, rolling etc. is quite telling. If you look at the videos that are there I can not fathom how they prevent water seeping in at the bow/stern/deck seams... for example. As I said, huge skeptic.

  • talked with wners
    Talked with owners a few weeks back. They are trying to ramp up production now. There problem is not that the price was wrong, but that they have too many orders which they need to produce. They had a whole bunch of orders as part of their Kickstarter, and continue to get a few additional pre-orders each week. So there plans based around producing one quantity wouldn't work, so they are scaling up at the same time they start production. This is delaying them getting the boat out.

    Have seen on their Facebook page photos of various parts as they come off the production lines.

    Besides having met them and provided some advice when the guy asked me industry questions, I am not connected with them. I did not order a boat, I don't work for them, etc.
  • Options
    Oru Kayak update
    Hi all,

    I'm Anton, the designer/founder/CEO of Oru Kayak. If it seems we've been quiet lately, it's because we're putting pretty much all of our company resources and energy into ramping up manufacturing. And we're very close- this week we test-assembled the first production model using all of the final components. We're rigorously testing and abusing a few boats in the next two weeks, after which we'll start ramping up assembly and production. As Peter said, we do have a considerable backlog of orders to fill from Kickstarter and beyond- but we've made the delivery dates clear to pre-purchasers, and we're on schedule for 90% of our preorders.

    To RubricofRuins questions, the kayak is quite stiff- it's a much heavier guage of material than the standard sign/packaging coroplast. There are no seams below the waterline, and while the deck seams aren't absolutely 100% waterproof, they let in less water than the skirt/coaming interface (on our kayaks or others). The reason we haven't shown more hardcore use- waves, rolling, re-entries etc- has less to do with the boat performance than liability issues. On the advice of our lawyers, we've been conservative with what we show it doing, until we get the right legal disclaimers and insurance coverage in place. We're working full speed on this as well and plan to have more videos in place for when we start shipping.

    You can see more manufacturing updates on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/OruKayak . We're very proud to be manufacturing in the US. Starting a major manufacturing operation from scratch is no quick or easy path, but it's a very exciting time for the company, and we look forward to sharing more of it soon.

  • CEO talk for were in deep shit ...
    "We’ve had a few challenges, and there may be more ahead, but we are on schedule. And most importantly, we've partnered with manufacturers and component..."

    I've done several start up companies, this guy is spinning like a lightweight who is in trouble.
  • I am glad...
    I am glad entrepreneurs like Anton don't listen to the naysayers.

    I've also started up businesses, and had to learn to not listen to everyone who said "no it wouldn't work". Maybe it won't, but the person who said it (in my case - can't say the same for you) invariably didn't know, so was just really saying it wasn't something they'd risk. That's fine. I just wouldn't let their risk adverseness stop me (or Anton in this case) from starting a business.
  • Options
    always a sceptic
    Stiffness of the boat has little to do with material itself - skin-on-frame boats are very stiff, despite, or rather because, of their construction - load-bearing frame, thin strained hull material. In Oru kayak skin is both strained and load-bearing and bow/stern/deck seams are not sealed. Deformation of the skin may/will cause deformation of the seam and water ingress. Given, not an issue in dead calm, much more of an issue when hitting something or in waves. Free surface effect will make boat less controllable, probably making things worse.

    I think the idea is nice in itself, but not practical in real life.
  • Options
    An invitation to the skeptics
    Hi all,

    We are a few weeks behind on our first delivery- a short run of 50 boats to our Kickstarter backers. Other than that, we're on schedule for the rest of our pre-orders. The other Kickstarter batches were originally scheduled to ship between May and June, based on the queue of orders; post-Kickstarter pre-orders will ship after those are fulfilled, which is now July. We've been fully transparent with our anticipated delivery dates, and while we certainly wish we could get the first 50 out this month, a few weeks of delay doesn't mean we're in dire trouble as a company. We've done the first production assemblies and will be scaling up to full capacity starting April 8th.

    We fully understand the skepticism towards new and unproven products- and we'll be offering many chances to test out an Oru Kayak around the country this spring and summer. We welcome all skeptics and naysayers- we've already converted some skeptics who've tried it (including our new head of sales, who was once a sponsored athlete for a major kayak brand). And if you try one and don't like it, we'll respectfully listen, and use your feedback to make the product better.

  • Great response
    Good luck to you
  • When and where ?
  • Saw the video
    I am currently working in The Bay Area and live in Emeryville. Saw your launch from Treasure Island. Have lots of experience with portable boats and can give you a fair review if you let me try it.
  • Options
    Sorry, that's not correct
    Stiffness of the boat has everything to do with the material and how the materials are applied to the design of the boat. I don't know if the Orukayak is a good boat or not. However, a skin on frame kayak is completely different than a stiffened panel monocoque. In the skin boat, the lashed together frame takes both compression and tension loads with the skin adding to the strength, although it is only able to take tensile loads (the skin reduces the flexing that the frame alone would experience in use). A panel construction is different. The panels take both tension and compression without a supporting internal frame. Monocoque construction can be made very light, strong and stiff, but it is a high-tech solution compared to a skin boat, that can be made out of drift wood and animal skins. Everything has it's place.
  • Odd? No demo days scheduled?
    -- Last Updated: Mar-31-13 2:42 PM EST --

  • Give it a rest.
    Do you have a personal beef with this operation?

    Start hassling Apple for being late launching their products.

    Your whining here is getting old.
  • Options
    load distribution
    Calling a flexible, stap-and-buckle construction a "monocoque" is a bit steep. Take a milk carton and try to make it "fail" by pushing ends up and towards the center. Hard, ain't it? Now take another carton, cut the line on the top panel all the way to the sides and try flexing carton again. Line separates and carton fold "just like that". Only the boat is NOT a carton, its length to width ration is higher, which makes things even worse.

    So in fact i take what I said back, the load-bearing skin construction in this case IS a monocoque - with a fatal structural flaw - one that that usually makes monocoques fail - the seam is in fact a "crack" in the monocoque that takes the stiffness out if it.

    I was not comparing Orukayak to skin-on-frame, I was merely pointing out that as far as structural integrity is concerned the stress transmitted though the load-beating skin will cause seam deformation and potential leakage. The monocoque argument is very fitting here in fact to highlight the limitation of the design.
  • Options
    Maybe he does the same thing on Apple forums under the nick of "Melanogaster" :) Besides, it is a factual statement - no demo days are scheduled and what better publicity would there be than to make 3-5 boats and invite a bunch of people to test them? Would pretty much either definitively float them or sink them.

    Question might be expressed in a tad annoying manner, but it serves to highlight public concerns.
  • It's not just a late launch
    It's prepaying for a product that isn't available for demo anywhere (yet). A completely new product of new design, too--UNLIKE Apple's devices which have a long track record.
  • Another interesting one
    I didn't even know these things had ever been marketed, but they do precede my entry into paddling:

  • innovation vs. real word supply
    Glad to see some responses from the designer/producer. But I'll be waiting to see what happens.

    To wit: I was manager and purchasing agent for an independent wilderness sports shop for several years back in the late 1970's. We had a number of folks bring us really impressive and uniquely designed products, like one couple who had an entire line of frame, day, summit, shoulder and fanny packs made from all natural products like hemp and linen canvas, laminated wood and leather. We loved them and placed a large order, even persuaded them to give us several samples to put on display with their photo catalog. This was in early summer and we had tremendous response from customers to the packs, collecting a whole file card box of pre-orders for them. By Fall the makers were only able to send us about a dozen daypacks and shoulder bags. A few items trickled in until late November, at which point we finally tracked them down by phone (they had stopped returning calls around September) and they admitted they were having trouble getting quantities of the materials and labor they needed to fulfill their orders and had decided it was "too much hassle". The frame pack "sample" we had bought for display was so popular we had to do a drawing to see which of the pre-order customers got it. The dozens of other customers we had to disappoint were very unhappy.

    This happened more than once, which was discouraging since we tried to support small craftspeople and offer unusual and innovative items in the store. I have also seen it happen in the construction business, with new products heavily marketed to designers and engineers before the inventors can actually produce them, leaving contractors with specified design items they can't procure. The term "unobtainium" becomes more than a joke. It's great to have a brilliant design, but being able to produce it to meet market demand is a whole other game.

    My advice to the Orukayak makers would be to get as many of the best prototype you have NOW out to the first line of buyers as Beta testers, with an express liability proviso and a promise to exchange them if they have problems or you do a major engineering change as the production ramps up. There could be no better field testing for useful feedback and it would greatly improve your marketing position. Just having ten or 12 in the water around the country would allay people's skepticsm.

    If you wait until you are "sure" the design is "perfect" you may lose all your momentum.
  • New product introductions
    -- Last Updated: Apr-01-13 2:42 PM EST --

    I was in the rapid prototyping business at one time and saw many cases where the product was "marketed" well in advance of production to get a solid handle on demand before making significant risky investment in tooling, materials, packaging, etc. So, as not to skew the results, the responders to the "dry offer" were not notified of the conditional circumstances until after the order was received and were provided with the option of canceling. In the case of Oru, they are being very open and candid about the offer being pre-production and when delivery can be expected.

    It is also not unusual for companies to offer pre-production deals to accelerate the recovery of their up-front investment (example: the many pre-publication book sales on Amazon, which are also an indicator for first printing quantities). If anything, I think Oru has been exemplary in their disclosure.

  • Full Disclosure ???
    Have you watched their youtube videos?
    Have you read the write up in tech magazines?

  • Bay Area is home of Vaporware ....
  • Yes
    -- Last Updated: Apr-01-13 3:46 PM EST --

    I've seen this Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH7m20x_Mjk) and it's plainly stated in it that, with the help of pre-orders, they'll be able to go into future production. I haven't seen any articles, but having published magazines and newspapers, know that the content of editorial material is determined by editorial staff, not the subject.

    I haven't seen, nor have I expected to see, a Youtube or magazine article for any kayak that takes the order and discloses all the terms. I'd go to their website for that and, in the case of Oru, they clearly divulge that it's pre-production and state the terms (http://www.orukayak.com/pages/preorder).

  • Yes, but....
    ...I still say you Oru folk need to keep more current updates on the website. It would only take a few minutes a week to post a short blog report on the progress of production. I mean you made time to respond to my question on here, didn't you?

    And upload some additional and more current videos -- I counted at least 3 prototypes in your videos. Get those folks that own them on the water, even on the road! Having only two 5 month old quickies on YouTube and no updates on the site since January bespeaks a "dead in the water" start-up to most people. Again, don't lose your momentum.

    Having worked most of my life in consumer specialty sales and project management and delivery, if there is one thing I've learned it is that a persistent stream of communication is the best operational protocol. Even if you feel you have no new (or good) news for your current or prospective clients, keeping them aware that you are working on things on a weekly or even daily basis inspires confidence and customer satisfaction and minimizes problems and frustration.
  • Sterling
    I think Sterling is dong a good job of feeding a steady stream of updates, videos and pics as they rebuild and reload from their fire. Nice model for oru to follow.
  • Gotta love all the so called experts...
    on this thread who have all the answers for how a start up company should do things. I just wish they would give the names of their successful company and what innovative product they've created and marketed?
  • Options
    you drive and are seeing that another guy's wheel is about to come off - you won't tell him cause ur not a mechanic?

    Nothing wrong with people expressing their opinion about something, expert or layman it be. Stupidity lies in not giving an ignorant opinion (we all prone to that) - it is listening to one and taking it for a gospel.
  • The difference
    People can discern between what is intended as constructive and what is acrimonious.
  • What happened to the orukayak ?
    They were defeated by the tippeycanoes at the battle of High Brace !
  • Thanks ROR
    I am, indeed, offering constructive criticism and suggestions, because I'm a big fan of folders, am intrigued by the Oru and a potential customer. I'd love to see them succeed.

    And yes, I am an "expert" in marketing, product delivery and turning around struggling ventures. A list of them would be a silly waste of space here but anyone who feels the compulsion to validate my cred is welcomed to email me for a link to my long and incredibly boring professional CV.

    I'm offering Orukayak, for free, advice that other businesses have paid me a lot of money for. They are also free to take it or leave it.
  • Options
    Oru in dysfunction?
    thanks willowleaf, for your insight. I wish this guy at Oru would hear you and take your words to heart.  you are absolutely right--he's hurting his credibility and risking the success of his organization by playing ostrich and keeping his customers in the dark. to those who would accuse you of being in no position to have such an opinion or offer such advice, I can only say: I am a person who purchased two of these folding kayaks on the very first day, and I am horrified by my experience.

    The promised delivery window came and went with a paltry explanation, and no apology.  Oru's behavior is befuddling at best, callous and arrogant at worst, and then there is that nagging thing you dare not let yourself think: maybe i've been fleeced. gradually, I am growing furious, and I don't think I am the only one. I  believe it's a matter of time before people start posting negative comments online, and maybe even organizing to take some kind of action against Oru.

    The funny thing is, I wouldn't be so upset, maybe wouldn't be upset at all, if there were a stream of reliable communication from Oru, but there isn't. I was repeatedly assured "early May" would be the delivery. the last time I heard from Oru was May 07 (a mass email telling us production had been delayed and the boats would ship a few weeks later than promised). by that logic, mine should have shipped by now.  but no kayak, no apology, no update, and no further information of ANY KIND since may 7. there is no customer service department to call, no public phone number for Oru Kayak (that's right, people who have purchased these kayaks have no number to call), and the company does not respond to emails. it really is kind of a "trust us, drink the kool-aid" thing. if you google Oru you will only find the same three links you've looked at a million times. they would have you believe this is because they are investing "every moment of their time" in the process of "ramping up production."

    kickstarter offers no support mediating claims against one of its "projects." despite Anton Willis professing on this message board that manufacturing updates are posted on his Oru Facebook page, there's nothing of any substance or detail there. he has said more on this thread than he has on any of Oru's official venues, though all of the unfulfilled promises he made here are from early April, and now it's May 30. On memorial day he posted one picture--of a military veteran paddling a kayak decorated as a battleship. THAT ALONE is the only sign of life any of us has seen from Oru in a month. and do not believe what he says about having been transparent with regard to deliveries--he has not. this is simply dishonest fabrication on his part. keeping people in a state of limbo is not transparency. all that I have received is a vague sense of when my delivery MIGHT be, with no guarantee, and no way to have my order addressed individually, by a living human being. there's not even any indication that the company is still in business.  $1,500 dollars is a lot of money for me, and terms like unobtanium and vaporware are damn scary. I feel as if I've just bought some swamp land in Arizona, or a share of the Brooklyn Bridge!  it would be sooo easy for Oru to just publish a brief weekly update. or to show some pics of happy people with kayaks that HAVE already shipped out (if any). why they don't do this is a mystery to me, and I can only assume it's bad news. for a "virtual" company with no track record, all it would take is a few negative articles to seriously hamper future orders.  Willoleaf, as much as i want to believe in the beautiful fantasy of oru kayak, and as much as i hate to say this: I fear you have indeed sniffed out a startup in the throes of crisis.

    if Anton Willis still reads this thread, I challenge him, no implore him, to prove me wrong.
  • Options
    Oru Credibility is Fine
    I have been a fairly silent member of paddlingnet for a number of years. That is until now.

    My husband and myself participated in Oru's Kickstarter campaign by ordering 2 of the Early Bird Oru Kayaks. I think we were one of the first 10 to place orders when the campaign kicked off.

    Yes, their production was delayed. That is not an uncommon occurrence when pursuing production of a new product.

    During this delay we received no less than four emails apologizing for the delay plus offering reassurance that the delay was in the very best consideration for producing a quality product.

    My husband and I are contractors that travel the whole of the North American continent. We paddle Alaska to San Diego, Nova Scotia to the Florida Keys. We consider ourselves intermediate paddlers.

    Because of the nature of what we do we have had an ongoing pursuit of a lighter, easier to set up kayak to take with us in our travels. We've tried many.

    Last week we received our two Oru's. Today we had our first paddle at a remote lake in the North Cascades of Washington State. This area is strictly "carry in, carry out", absolutely no motorized equipment. So, our "real world" conditions are certainly NOT your "real world" conditions!

    We were absolutely pleased with the performance of the Oru's. They are light and responsive. They track very well. Our conditions today were 10 mph winds with a bit of chop. We paddled for about 3 hours.

    First set up was about 30 minutes on our property. The second set up at the lake was about 20 minutes (per kayak).

    The kayak's folds are stiffer when they are new and will be easier to unfold and fold over time. That is obvious to see when we watch the Oru Company's videos.

    After 3 hours of paddling we emerged from our Oru's dry and comfortable.

    We do not regret purchasing these kayaks. Quite frankly we are happy that we got our feet in the door early and purchased them for the price that we did.

    You will see more of these in your local waters.

    Dale and Laure Simpson
  • Options
    Re: Oru credibility is fine
    Thank you Laure for posting about the delivery and paddling experience you had with your Oru. As another customer much further down the waiting list, it's great to hear good news!

    Very recently, I have found Oru's Facebook page to be updated frequently with pictures submitted by customers in their freshly delivered kayaks.

    Although my delivery is months away, I emailed them the other day with a maintenance question and they answered my email within 24 hours.

    I don't know why Oru doesn't put a "order counter" on their webpage so customers can see the progression of deliveries by order number. It would eliminate a lot of guesswork and negative rumors.
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