Hello all. Sorry for the delay in replying, we've been swamped dealing with the Kickstarter campaign. I apologize for the novel to follow, but I didn't want to reply to each individual comment and have every person on here getting pinged 30 times so I'll try to include a bunch of info in this one post.
I'll list some feedback to the comments below, but first I wanted to say that we totally get that the demographic on Newschoolers isn't exactly the target audience for this Dragon product. We've been skiers all our lives and I've always found the ski/snowboard community to be awesome, friendly and supportive. Given that, we figured it never hurts to get a product out in front of the ski/boarding world as everyone is usually uber nice.
A brief background on the Dragon. I often ski alone with 2-3 of my kids (young kids 2-8 years old) and for years we've had an issue with them getting run into. I ski nice and wide behind them, I have them ski tight lines in front of me, we only stop in highly visible areas, etc......it doesn't matter, they still got hit, or almost hit every time out. It's almost like people use me as the pivot point and as they cut in front of me it's too late when they finally notice my 3 year old who's 20 feet in front of me. About 4 years ago we'd had enough, it was either quit skiing or do something to make the kids more visible. We built the first Dragon prototype about 4 years ago just for our personal use, but literally every single time we stopped on the mountain we had parents and ski instructors coming up and asking about it. After a few ski seasons of people asking where to get one we decided to build them. Now for a few replies to some of the questions/comments:
1) As for how the Dragon works, it's really hard to explain but it just does. It's much more than some dorky kid playing dress up on the mountain. As skiers/boarders when we're making our way down the mountain of course we see the people (adults and kids) in front of us, but we're not really focused on any one person, we're focused on our line and when a kid does something erratic they get hit. The Dragon forces people to look and focus on the kid wearing a Dragon. No exaggeration, but since we started having our kids wear the Dragon packs we've had zero close calls and zero collisions. It's not just that people see them, the wings make them the center of attention and they also make the kid wider. The result is that people target our kids as an obstacle to steer clear of. This makes them safer and I have no clue how anyone could ever say that's a bad thing. It also helps that the kids love wearing the Dragon because of the attention they get from people on the mountain and people on the chairs above. It's easy to say our kids are pussies or we're helicopter parents but it's not true. If it was legal I'd be the dad having his kids ride in the bed of the pickup as we barreled down the highway at 75mph. Truth is I just got sick of my kids getting run into. Developing a solution is just good parenting.
2) Price: Trust me, this part sucks. We have a landed build cost of $40 per unit (domestic manufacturing is expensive and overseas we're getting destroyed by 35% tariffs). Anyone who's ever sold product knows that a $40 build cost suggests a $160 retail price. The reason for this is that a manufacturer needs at least a 50% margin to be able to stay in business. To sell the packs retail, we'd have to sell to a wholesaler (i.e. REI, Christy's, whoever) for $80 per pack so we'd get our minimum 50% margin and they'd get their minimum 50% margin selling it at $160. Clearly we can't sell the Dragon for $160 so we've lost the retail channel and are focused on direct to consumer. In reality, we'll likely end up selling product around $69, not smart from a business perspective but we want to get the product out into the world. Trust me, I'd love to slap a price of $29.95 on the Dragon and have thousands of them out there. The reality is that a successful retailer has margins closer to 80%. It's no secret that those $800 skis you just bought cost about $100 to make. How about your $200 goggles with a build cost of $17. Retailers need that margin to fund R&D, manufacturing, marketing, operating costs, overhead, warranty returns, etc.
3) Ease of use: I used to run lifts at Keystone so we don't fool around with crap getting caught on chairs. The Dragon has rounded corners and a really low profile (1 inch deep) so it's super lift friendly. Obviously you stow the wings before getting on the chair which takes a whopping 5 seconds to do. For those who don't want to spend the 5 seconds at the bottom and top of the lift stowing or pulling out the wings, just bend the wings forward down over the shoulders. No snagging risk and you just pop them back in place at the top of the chair.
4) For those who are so pissed at us (no clue why) that you'd rather skip the campaign and donate directly to planting trees or some other cause. Please, please do. If someone donates $60 to planting trees in an effort to make a point that we suck, well that would be awesome. We believe strongly in reforestation efforts which is why our kickstarter campaign plants one tree for any pledge amount, even $1.00. Do the math, if you pledge $1.00, after fees and taxes on the kickstarter campaign it costs us $1.30 to plant that one tree. Not exactly ripping people off when we take in $1.00 and pay out $1.30. Again, lousy business practice but it helps reforest the planet so well worth it.
I'll wrap up with a few thoughts. Please keep in mind that nobody likes running into kids, it sucks for everyone involved. The Dragon Pack really does help with this problem. You don't have to spend a dime on a pack, but you'll still benefit from these Dragons being on the mountain. If it's not hurting you in some way why harsh on it. When you see kids wearing these packs, and you eventually will - especially if you live in Colorado, please be supportive. Remember, 20 years ago if you wore a helmet skiing you were either a racer or a complete tool. Now the only people not wearing helmets are the gapers wearing jeans and trying to figure out how to avoid turning their ski pole into a suppository.
Lastly, if you care at all about those ski runs and the trees lining them, back our campaign for $1.00. As I said before, it costs us $1.30 to plant a tree for every $1.00 backer but we'd be thrilled to go out of pocket several hundred bucks because 1000 people planted trees by backing our campaign. You took the time to comment on this post, take another 5 minutes to pledge $1.00 to our campaign and plant a tree.
Thanks for reading this novel and have a great ski/boarding season,
Steve and Alyna - co-founders of Kideaux