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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Maybe he does the same thing on Apple forums under the nick of “Melanogaster” :slight_smile: 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.