Birdkids offGrid - Kickstarter

Saw this, thought it might be of interest to some…

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This device looks cool and I’d like to know more about it, but that KS is so light on technical/usage details and so heavy on millennial-pandering fluff.



I backed it. It’s a great companion for OP-Z as it does USB and bluetooth. This means you bypass some of the combos needed on Z.

This looks really cool. Reminded me of the Adafruit M4 Trellis

But yeah, for the Op-Z could be a great companion. I’m more and more finding constrained by the OP-Z keyboard on the go.

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Oh, what the heck… ended up backing this as well!

A built-in iNEMO™ Ultra-low-power, inertial module with an AI Machine Learning Core


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I just decided to back this, but may pull out. I’m in the 2nd batch of early bird, which is slated for March of 2021. I guess they’re trying to be realistic about the product development timeline. Anyone else out there backing this? What do you think you’ll pair it with? I’m always looking for something portable that I can bust out on a break at work. Maybe some fun could be had with this and some iphone apps.

Well, here we are at December 2021. I still have no clue about when my unit will ship. At this stage I don’t even want the thing anymore. I can’t think of a relevant use case for myself now. Interestingly, they just put out an update talking about retail units and how they won’t be able to build and sell too many. Maybe that situation will make me look like a hero when I ask for a refund. They can sell my unit to someone who wants it more. Did anyone else back this? Have you received it?

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They actually just opened up orders for general public. I’d hope that means that all of the kickstarter ones have been shipped! :grimacing:

Almost everything I have backed on kickstarter has had retail units advertised before I got my backed unit. So annoying

Yeah, I recall one of the earlier updates saying that they’re doing retail concurrently to generate capital to stay afloat. They did say that the shipping priority will be something like 3 campaign backers to every 1 new retail order or something to that effect. I will say this now – I am likely never to back anything (synth or otherwise) on kickstarter again. Apart from one children’s book that my friend wrote, all of the things I’ve backed have been a mess.

Perhaps I should contact them and offer my cancellation and request refund. Or, I could follow the nouveau trend and flip my campaign unit for retail price as soon as it arrives. :man_shrugging:t2:

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It is an interesting point, in knowing your demographic.

Companies want to seek out broad interest, but how many of these Kickstarters are broad interest, and how many would do better by sticking to spec and covering features with less “aspirational” and wellness-focused marketing?

I wish them and backers well, though I try to avoid startups for this reason. The best experiences I have with crowdfunding tend to be established companies and collaborators that use the investment in product development but not to scale-up operations significantly.

This thing looks useless. *Edit: or maybe, rather, pointless.

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I think there’s a difference between pointless for you and pointless for everyone.

Seems to me like there’s a pretty big appetite for music making on mobile devices, and some pretty powerful groovebox-type apps for iOS and Android available (Koala sampler, Drambo, etc.) Using touch screens isn’t great for live input though, so this seems to be solving a real problem that people are experiencing, so I find it hard to buy that it’s “useless” or “pointless”.

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Fair enough!

Sorry you got stung with this one cold_fashioned. Birdkids did lay down an ambitious project for themselves, as i noted over in the Crowdfunding thread.

Also note that Birdkids had to take two swipes at funding to meet their goal, they didn’t raise enough to meet goal first time around, so they lowered their goal. I guess it’s not totally surprising that they might run out of money. Their real cost was probably closer to their first estimate.

Looking at the summary i put in that thread of a group of projects i followed there, it looks like about half the crowdfunded projects, fluffed their target dates.

But then look at some of the projects that have slipped :

  • Expressive E Osmose
  • Majella Implexus
  • Conductive Labs MRCC

These all are products that are significant and i am glad exist. Perhaps some of these could have been made without crowdfunding, but most could not. Developing new hardware has some very expensive phases.

The Artisan Nucleus is another one up for funding right now, another one that probably is worth having, especially if it leads to the Artisan polysynth. But do you risk it to help make it happen ? ADDED LATER : And the Nucleus did fail to fund, raising only a part of their very modest goal.

Then on the other hand there is Pluto,
( your thread cold_fashioned ) who have managed to pull it off and even do battle with the pandemic supply chain dragon, without taking a dime up front.

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Hi All,
first time post in this forum, just thought I’ll chime in and cover it from our perspective, so you can have a Rashomon-type overview :slight_smile:

I started birdkids as a sole-proprietorship back in 2012, as a label first, 2015 with our first hardware product (TheBateleur VCO), and in 2021 finally as a properly incorporated GmbH (think LLC).

We’ve introduced OffGrid at the end of 2019 based on an early nRF Evalboard mockup playing “Bladerunner Blues” to get some resonance from people we were pitching the concept to. In fact I wrote the code myself in a giant Arduinoish Loop.

We had no idea whatsoever if a MIDI controller over BLE can be a thing, nor, as someone pointed out here, there’s a demographic for it. Truth be told, birdkids was never about market research, demographics studies, or the like… we engineer, design, manufacture locally and hand-assemble 200 VCOs, test them, ship them, talk to each client, shake their hand at exhibitions, have a beer … you get the idea, Mom & Pop style.

This was new, and the feedback we got was very encouraging. So my Partner (co-founder too) and I canceled any holiday plans we had for the year and like naive morons decided to run a crowdfunding campaign. It bombed. We had no clue that KS is all about 3rd party marketing companies boosting ads etc… ask Roli and Aritophone how they do theirs, it’s all paid advertising, very little magic or community euphoria as one would make you believe.

I guess you get the gist, we’re not really big business planners, we’re engineers, designers, and artists. But we do, dare I say, killer hardware (prove me wrong). Fast forward to Campaign 2, the one that ran successfully with 30% of the funds going to cover the platform, ad spend, and a consultant agency running newsletters.
The 70% leftover went into in-house developed Hardware/Firmware fully, the rest we financed ourselves to procure 2000 pcs of parts to cover 1400 (roughly, bit less) units pledged for with some error margin and a couple hundred to sell. Then the supply-chain meltdown meltdowned. It started slipping by a month, then three then 6 … you’ve read all about it, not gonna bore you.
Meanwhile, we’re sitting with 90k (eur) of functional Firmware, and north of 150k (eur) of committed supplies in production.

rough timeline:
We’ve closed the campaign in July 2020, components were ordered in April as a rough estimate.
August/September was supposed to be the first pilot run, October the 2nd batch, November first assemblies, December shipping, February 2021 first sales.

Fast forward to November 2021, the first complete set of components arrive, we jump to assemble and ship the first hundred units to backers.
Mind you, it’s all hand-assembled, every unit hand-calibrated and every sensor (and there’s plenty) actuated before a PASS from the testrig.

With roughly 9 months without any sales and just investments (mostly from our own pocket) - you can imagine generating income through sales is no longer something that is optional. It’s pure survival to stay afloat. And honestly if y’all gonna pull the “do the honorable thing” shtick, let me tell you it’s my partner, our only employee, and I that do all the work. With our kid growing up in the office just so we can assemble the units and ship one at a time. Not happy? Request a refund, we were offering those as early as November 2020. No questions asked.

So before a bunch of, what I’m assuming, guys behind an anonymous alias gather round in a forum and start judging us for desperately trying to survive this hell of two years, spend 10minutes, and read through our public updates which we take time to write and address what we’re going through.
We’ve reached out multiple times for consent from backers that we’re gonna open up a retail availability of some meager quantity of OffGrids to pay rent and bills. And we’ve always offered easy ways to exit with a full refund.

None of this was supposed to happen, and we hate the fact that we need to sell while fulfilling the campaign dues, but we have to. Sincerely hope none of you have to ever depend on others’ patience, because, honestly this is a nightmare reading through some of those entries.

If we’ve learned one thing from the pandemic, is that being kind and understanding of people’s challenges and what they might be going through, without judgement is a good skill. We’re learning, we’re listening, we’re working our butts off for love, for music and for something we commit our entire lives to. Every day for the past two years, no off days, no holidays, no salaries. And I’ve never been more proud of what we’ve achieved.

Remember, behind every company there are people. Reach out to us, and talk to us.

Mike Beim



Thanks for posting this, and I sincerely hope the sales go well and that now that original backers are getting some of their units that some of the aggressive messages fall off. I know so many companies have had to deal with delays, not to mention customers demanding immediate responses/shipping/fulfillment like they get from megacorps like Amazon.

I wish say they don’t mean ill by it, but unfortunately I think a lot of times they do aim to make folks feel bad with what they say :stuck_out_tongue: . But I think it’s worth remembering that they’re just a little misguided, a little upset, and probably lashing out due to a zillion other things the pandemic has forced us to feel out of control on. It sucks that you (and other folks working on projects they truly love) have to deal with that kind of shit.

If we’ve learned one thing from the pandemic, is that being kind and understanding of people’s challenges and what they might be going through, without judgement is a good skill.

:point_up: No joke! I can imagine it’s probably hard since your company is small enough that you personally have to respond to and read customer correspondence, but have faith that you’re working on something that is really unique in the market and that there are many folks out there who aren’t screaming on the internet, but are just excited to make music with this thing.

And for my two cents: I just got my Offgrid delivered yesterday! It’s a great little piece of hardware. You all did an amazing job on it! I’m looking forward to my holiday travel a lot more now, and my portable music-making kit just leveled up big time :smiley: Using it with Koala and Drambo on iOS has been a dream so far, and the latency is crazy! I never really thought I’d be able to play live unquantized input from a bluetooth midi controller.


This might actually pair nicely with an M8 Tracker, even if one has to use something like an iPhone to serve as USB host