WOULDN’T IT BE COOL . . .
.. . if your skateboard lit up when you were riding?” It was just a fun question Chris Forgey asked his son Mason, an up-and-coming, junior competitive skateboarder, one evening in 2010. A question that launched a sports-equipment manufacturing firm poised to change the look of an entire industry. Using motion-activated lighting technology, Chris spent the better part of the next two years designing his line of patent-pending, illuminated skateboards, longboards and safety helmet designs, refining the production processes and securing first mass market retail sales.
With growing industry buzz and interest among sports manufacturing heavy weights, Chris and his wife Jen, the company’s chief sales and logistics officer, sought assistance from the Texas State SBDC to scale their manufacturing operations and expand into new global markets.
GO BIG OR GO HOME
The first order of business for Chris and SBDC advisor Peg Richmond was to refine the business and marketing pitch for an investor / lender audience. Once that was done, Peg pitched the company to various lenders and arranged meetings between Chris and two interested institutions. Peg also facilitated meetings between the Forgeys and three key parties—export specialist Larry Tabash of the U.S. Commercial Service, a local business writer and a local factoring company—in order to accelerate the hunt for foreign distributors, gain press coverage as an up-and-coming start-up and to help stretch funding during manufacturing ramp-up, respectively. Peg also located and amended a draft distributor agreement for terms discussion and legal review by the Forgeys’ attorney.
Chris devoted part of the half-million dollar total funds raised, which includes the couple’s life savings, to create a skate industry market-launch advertising campaign, to secure additional manufacturing equipment, and as working capital. He also continues to innovate and produce additional product prototypes. In fact, he purchased a new snowboard press with the intention of entering the snow sports market ahead of the Christmas 2012-2013 retail buying season and the major industry buying show that leads the 2013-2014 retail-selling season. He’s also developed an urban commuter (longboard) that features integrated head lights and tail lights. The next product target is a pair of skis that will be unveiled at a tradeshow in late January 2013.
On the verge of signing the first distribution agreement in Europe and the UK, Chris is also seeking licensing opportunities for his technology, is in serious talks about creating branded products for other companies and celebrity endorsers and is preparing for a second round of investor funding.