Most of you know that we failed to travel to China last December. To sum it up: it was technically possible but virtually impossible to jump through all the legal hoops required, and Manel was denied boarding when he was already at the airport 😱
Then a vast Covid wave hit the region, followed by the Chinese new year. So we had to postpone our trip until now.
Fortunately, now the requirements to travel are not as draconian. You still need a negative PCR 48 hours prior, but the embassy doesn't need to validate it.
Nevertheless, to be extra sure, we planned our trip differently this time 🧐
Stage 1: Taiwan
On Friday the 10th, Manel, our Lead Product Designer, flew to Taipei from Spain. He would spend about a week there and then fly to Hong Kong, where he would get a train to the Chinese border in Shenzen.
During his stay in Taiwan, he's been visiting different factories to diversify our supply chain and be prepared for growth.
One of them was Tai Hao, known for their high-quality double-shot PBT keycaps, as we're exploring options to offer for the Dygma Defy in the future.
He even had time to do a little bit of tourism and enjoy his premium hotel room. We spare no expense here at Dygma for our hero 😂
However, it was not all fun and games. The most critical part of the trip awaited: getting to Hong Kong and crossing the border. And he needed that negative PCR.
Stage 2: The PCR Nightmare
Getting a PCR seems easy enough, but only a handful of hospitals in Taipei make the official ones valid to enter China.
The exact dates of the trip had been uncertain until the very last moment, so we didn't have a test booked. When we went to get one, the only hospital with working online reservations was full for weeks, and if you tried calling the others, you got an automated voice message in Chinese 😭
We emailed all of them, but we were running out of time. It was getting late, and the flight to Hong Kong was only 24 hours away.
Manel was about to go to each hospital in person, but at the very last moment, a reply from one of the hospitals came in: we had a test booked for the next morning 🙌
With the PCR results, he took a plane to Hong Kong late on Wednesday and arrived there almost at midnight.
He was now only a 20 min train ride from Shenzhen, but once there, he still had to cross the Chinese border 😬
Stage 3: Shenzhen
Ok. Relax. Manel was telling himself at the customs cue. I have everything I need: the negative PCR, the VISA, the invitation letter from our primary manufacturer... OH WAIT, why isn't the document loading? 😨
Used to the comforts of having everything online, Manel had forgotten that Google Drive and Gmail are not accessible from China!
He soon discovered with relief that Slack and Whatsapp worked, and we sent him a copy almost instantly, but his heart skipped a beat for a second 😅
Half an hour later, at 1.30 am, we received a message from him.
Ok, now what?
The following day, on Thursday, he had already met with our supply chain liaison.
Today he visited different factories, including our PCB manufacturer, where they were assembling the pending RF PCBs from the DVT 💪
During the next two weeks he'll be meeting with all our suppliers to validate samples and launch DVTs like crazy, and we'll inform you of his progress as soon as he returns.
In the meantime, our engineers are fine-tuning the electronics to launch the PVT (production validation test) of the PCBs, while the developers are working on the firmware and software.
Personally, I have continued testing the Dygma Defy to help find bugs on Bazecor and the firmware. And although my testing unit is made up of a mix of samples and has weird unfinished keycaps, I love every bit of it.