Soul Poles turns to Kickstarter for new line of ski poles
Hoping to develop a new line of affordable bamboo skiing and hiking poles, Bryon Friedman, founder of Soul Poles, took an unconventional route.
He turned to Kickstarter, a website that allows the public to fund business ventures, to raise money for the new line of poles, dubbed the SoulLite Project. In return for their money, people who back the Kickstarter campaign receive various incentives. For example, a $5 pledge gets a shout-out on the company’s Facebook page, while a $1,000 pledge earns the opportunity to design custom art on a set of poles.
As of Thursday, the Kickstarter campaign had surpassed its $17,000 goal, raising more than $26,000. The campaign is slated to end Dec. 12.
Friedman said Soul Poles, which was founded about two years ago, has had success with its high-end, customized bamboo poles, which are marketed as environmentally friendly and start at $129. The company turned to Kickstarter because it wanted to develop more affordable poles. The new poles, which will cost $69, are injection molded with fewer materials, cutting down on production costs.
"We sat down this spring, looked at how we’ve grown and saw which markets have done well for us," Friedman said. "We wanted to engage people who want to make environmentally conscious purchases, but don’t have the means to do it."
One of the benefits of the Kickstarter campaign is that it allows Soul Poles to see if there actually is interest in the new line of poles. If the public didn’t want the new poles, people wouldn’t pledge their own money. But if the poles were something that piqued their interest, they would.
"We wanted to see, ‘Does this product hold weight, is it desirable to people?’" Friedman said. "As an entrepreneur and a designer, it’s important for us to make sure we’re doing our due diligence first. We need the support from the community to get it out there and show people the project we’re trying to complete."
Apart from the affordability of the new line of poles, there are functionality differences. The grip is more streamlined and ergonomic, to fit women and children better. Also, the tips and baskets are removable and interchangeable. That provides added convenience for customers who use the poles for both skiing and hiking, Friedman said.
"If you’re both an avid skier and hiker, you wouldn’t want to hike with baskets on your poles," he said.
With the Kickstarter results showing that customers are interested in the new line, Friedman said the whole process has been a positive experience.
"We’re trucking along, and it’s pretty cool," he said. "It’s been exciting to see who cares about our product. There have been random people we’ve never heard from as well as our current customers."
For more information on the poles or the Kickstarter campaign, visit soulpoles.com.
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