Local company unwinds common problem
November 7, 2014
When David Alden started tinkering with fishing reels, hoping to find a solution to the tangled messes of cords laying around his home, he never expected it would end up like this.
A few years later, he sits in a makeshift office in his Park City home, surrounded by stacks of boxes that rise to the ceiling. They are filled with what eventually came from his desire to solve a simple household problem, and they have taken his company, Recoil Winders, from a project on Kickstarter — a website that allows the public to help fund startups — to a flourishing company.
"I got sick of tangled cords and just wanted to create something for myself," Alden said. "So I started out with some fishing reels and some tape measures."
Recoil Winders now sells its devices — which have spring-loaded coils to easily wind cords — worldwide. That success is not lost on Alden, who said it’s difficult for Kickstarter projects to sustain whatever enthusiasm initially surrounds them.
"It’s pretty rare for a successful Kickstarter product to actually evolve into a functioning company," he said. "A vast majority of Kickstarter’s successes have that success, then have a hard time developing into a sustainable business. So that’s been our goal — to beat the odds there. And we’ve done that."
One of the intriguing aspects of the cord winders the company offers is their simplicity. They come in three sizes — for various cord lengths — and a handful of colors, but how they function is not complicated. A user hooks the cord he or she wants to wind, then pulls, triggering an automatic spring that does the rest.
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"It’s a very low-tech solution in a high-tech world," said Anne Alden, Alden’s wife and a co-founder of the company. "And people really like that."
It’s so simple, in fact, that David Alden was certain someone else had created a similar product when he first got the idea. But more than two years later, it’s clear that Recoil Winders’ products are the first of their kind.
"I think I spent the first six or eight months waking up and checking my e-mail, fully expecting to finally get that e-mail that says this has been out there forever and someone did it a long time ago," he said.
While the company wants to retain its hallmark of being user friendly, changes are coming. A new line of products is being devloped that would be able to wind up a greater variety of cords: those found in tangles under desks in offices, in home entertainment centers and in bathrooms. One of the requests the company receives most often is for a device to take care of curling iron and blow dryer cords, Alden said.
"Just about anywhere there are tangled cords, we have a product to clean up those cords," Alden said. "It will really bring Recoil from a single product to a whole line of products."
Alden is confident in expanding the company’s offerings because, despite the rise of technology that allows people to unplug more often, society will remain reliant on cords for the foreseeable future.
"There’s Bluetooth and wireless stuff, but cords aren’t going anywhere," he said.
The Aldens also are hoping another change comes soon. They are evaluating options to get the company out of their home and into a proper office. However, they are committed to remaining in Park City, a location that Alden said gives their brand a bit of luster.
"Park City is a brand, and I think it enhances our brand a little bit," Alden said. "We’re from a recognizable and aspirational place. There are entrepreneurs here and (Park City) has become known as a spot that’s sort of a hotbed. And that benefits us."