Seems like you guys like honesty. Doesn't usually go hand in hand with corporate strategy these days though, does it? Well, we aren't corporate; we are a tiny start up with a passion for trees and a simple idea. The fact is, when we tell our story honestly and openly, the reaction from you guys is always overwhelming, incredibly positive and super engaged. Maybe this is because you guys like to feel part of the story, which is understandable - and also true. You are.
When Kirk and I made our first Stingray, we photographed it, put it up online and sold it for $1500! With that money, we were able to make 3 Stingrays and that is how this all started....no loans, no outsiders..in fact, no one offered or accepted our proposal!
The first Stingrays we made were single skin (you will be able to find images of these all over the net as they went viral pretty quickly), and looking back, we were insanely lucky that our fist customers took such a gamble with us. They leaked, they creaked and they were really heavy! Once we handed production over, out of our own (unskilled) hands and into a small family owned parachute making company on the outskirts of London, we were then able to take a step back and start improving the details.
The first thing was water tightness – obviously! It is a pity we could not have ironed out the leaking before we started selling, but we simply did not have the luxury of spending 2 years on R&D, testing and evaluating each design decision. We had to bank roll as we went along, both of us still working our day jobs.
Of course, we wish we could have perfected the Stingray before it went public – we are still hurt by early reviews about how “it leaks!” or “the single skin is prone to condensation!” We just have to take these things on the chin, hope that you guys understand the process and know that we have your back! I have recently found a number of reviews on other people's websites complaining that we “brushed off” our responsibilities! This is simply not true. But if folks choose to post complaints on other companies' sites, how are we supposed to know about it in order to help?!
All of our first customers got sent free, brand new Stingrays once we had them working properly, with personalised notes from us (as inventors), thanking them for their early support and belief in what we were trying to do! We are still in touch with many of them – they get free upgrades for life!
Another battle we've faced for the first two years is the question about bending or breaking poles! I can be honest on this subject too; we have nothing to hide! Tentsile poles will bend. They will normally adopt a natural curve that forms as a result of the people's weight inside the tent, being partially supported by them. It is just a fact. We could use much heavier poles and pre-bend them (the Connect now does come with pre-bent poles as the curve is very tight), but heavier poles are heavy, bulky and unnecessary. Over time, there will just a be a slight bend. Simple.
Breaking poles, however, is a different story! This is a result of people “hanging” Tentsiles like a hammocks (#NOTAHAMMOCK). Tentsiles do not like to be hung. They like to be tensioned – that is why we include 3 massive ratchets! But people will be people and not use the ratchets properly and their poles will break and they will complain and that is life. Don't be one of those people. Those are the same kind of people that email us saying, “ I have a thousand trees on my property and there is not a single spot where I have three perfect trees to hang my Tentsile!” We ask those people to send it back. It is not for them.
We have learnt a lot since we sold our first Stingray in March 2013. Single skins are bad, quality is everything, and you guys want to be involved. So get involved. We want to hear from you, that is why we have started our Community page and interactive map. If you have ideas for us to explore, photos you want us to publish, feedback you want us to listen to, do not be shy! Our team has now grown to 7 people and our brand new store in Utah is open to visitors. Between London and Utah, we have got you guys covered, so get in touch. All the usual ways. See you in the trees! #Freedom #Elevateyouradventure #playcampexplore