After seven years of development, including two years of beta testing, and $10 million in investments, Step Ahead Innovations, the company that manufactured the MindStream Monitor, is officially shutting down its operations. The MindStream Monitor was designed to provide a fully automated solution for aquarists to continuously monitor and balance ten different water parameters. Here is the full announcement sent to customers:
“Thank you for your interest in the MindStream Monitor and for being a part of our community. Your early support for our mission has meant the world to us, and I’m reaching out directly to sincerely apologize for not delivering on the product we promised and to also update you personally on the status of our company. As you may have heard, Step Ahead Innovations recently had to cease operations and lay off our incredible staff due to financial constraints. We are extremely disappointed about letting our customers down and not being able to deliver on our vision for the MindStream Monitor and its ambitious technology. We are sorry for creating frustration and uncertainty, and we hope to provide some transparency around what led to this point and what will happen next.
After seven years of development, including two years of beta testing, and $10 million in investments into our technology, the Monitor, and the industry itself, we launched a revolutionary new approach to water monitoring that we were, and continue to be, incredibly proud of. We were elated by a strong early response and consistent positive feedback, and the orders came flying in. While we had tried to anticipate demand and were ultimately able to ship about a quarter of our initial orders, we were unable to scale our manufacturing processes and systems quickly enough to keep up with the pace of new orders, and we began to fall behind. We had a strong desire to meet our promises, so we proactively provided customer discounts for orders that were behind schedule and we quickly processed order cancellations when requested.
But we became concerned with lead times as the backlog grew, and after hearing similar concerns from our customers, we decided to close the web store to focus all our time and resources into catching up. Once we realized just how long it would take to deliver the product to customers in our existing backlog, we felt it was the right thing to do to stop taking additional customer money and ensure we took care of those who had already paid us. At that point, we fully intended to re-open the store as soon as we could catch up. Unfortunately, stopping orders led to a cash crunch that meant we couldn’t cover our operating expenses, and despite extensive efforts to secure additional capital from our investors to bridge the gap, we were unable to close the funding round. After exploring every available option to keep things moving forward, we had to make the extremely difficult decision to close our doors at Step Ahead Innovations. While it became unavoidable, we do understand how frustrating it is that our customers were left with a product they can’t use, or no product at all, and no one to contact in customer support for an explanation. For that, we apologize wholeheartedly.
We are all incredibly disappointed in this outcome and are now working hard to see that our groundbreaking technology reaches the market by other means. The science is sound, our approach is proven, we heard incredible feedback from many real customers, and the capabilities of the technology are limitless. Currently, we are actively seeking buyers for the product, technology, and considerable assets, including an extensive patent portfolio that includes 11 US patents, 8 foreign patents, and wide-ranging trade secrets and knowledge associated with real-time water quality monitoring, science, and technology.
Our ultimate desire is to bring this paradigm-shifting capability to reef keepers worldwide. While we had hoped to do it as Step Ahead Innovations, we are now diligently working to enable a new firm to realize the potential for this innovative technology to revolutionize water quality analytics in a wide variety of industries (including beyond saltwater aquariums), so that we can make things right financially with our customers, satisfy our obligations to our creditors and investors, and ultimately give the science behind the MindStream Monitor another chance to truly change how aquarists understand and manage reef chemistry.
There is no question that we were severely challenged by our ambitious goals, but at our core we are passionate scientists, aquarists, and lovers of this hobby, and I want to assure you that we tried at every turn to act in good faith with our customers and the reef keeping industry at large. We hope that in the coming months there will be good news to share for those who still believe in the power of the MindStream approach, but in the meantime, I want to thank you again for your support and understanding.
CEO, Step Ahead Innovations, Inc.”