Meet Ripples, the designer of MILKSHAKE BOARDS - that's her above. I'm her dad, Glynn. We've created a balance board for children and adults.
Our balance board is 4 feet long and 15 inches wide. It has three rockers on the underside that cause a bit of instability. Balancing on an unstable surface helps with balance and coordination, and increases core strength. I use it for core work when training for triathlons. It has many uses at home to add variety and fun to your workout routine; e.g. push ups, sit ups and planks. You can do yoga on it, or use it for pure core strengthening exercises. Kids of all ages love this board, and it has a handle for easy transport.
Your contribution will give us the little boost we need to start production here in San Diego as soon as March.
Now, a little of our story and what's been going on.....
Every summer from age 4 until I went to college, I tinkered with the most industrious man I ever knew, my grandpa. He had a huge workshop where he taught me to hammer and saw. We'd practice hammering and removing nails before I was allowed to build anything. I first built a box and then a shoe-shine kit.
Playing in her grandmother's garage this past summer, Ripples started doing yoga poses on her great-grandfather's toolbox; that's it below with the tape measurer on it. We gave her a T-Square and a piece of particle board and told her to design a yoga balance board.
Ripples worked hard to determine the ideal length and width of the board.
Making Sample #1 was a hoot. Note that initially she didn't have rockers on the underside, and instead used scrap wood for risers. We quickly realized that was boring to use.
Within a few weeks we had a sample board with rockers. This is the main component which causes a bit of instability and thereby engages your core. Ripples carried it with her everywhere, even to the beach, to show off. Kids really want to be healthy and fit, we just need to give them some tools other than TV.
After we made a few samples, Ripples said that it was a little tough to carry. So, a few weeks later we worked on a suitable handle.
Next, I went to China to try to find a manufacturer to produce the boards. There are a lot of companies that are willing to make the boards, but there were a few problems. I mention these below in the "Risks and Challenges." Here I am about an hour outside Shenzhen, China, in a factory I visited. Notice all the skateboard samples in the background. I'm the guy smiling.
Early samples were not bad. We'd move the rockers around as well as the handle. We also changed the shape of the rocker for a smoother experience; not too much rock and not too little.
Trying to get the handle right has been tricky. We're trying to smooth it out so it's comfortable for an adult and child, with just the right balance.
MILKSHAKE BOARDS' DEMO DAYS - After we made a few samples, my sister started bringing boards to yoga kids classes where she volunteers in east San Diego. They were a hit. If you've been to a yoga class for kids you'll know how difficult it is to get all the kids to pay attention and to engage in the activity. Not with the yoga boards. Each time my sister teaches a class with the boards the kids race to do their poses on the boards. The boys who used to hide in the back during class have moved to where the boards are to get their turn.
The boards are an open-ended learning tool. They get kids excited about exercise, proper posture and good balance.
We're using Canadian maple & birch because it's very strong wood. My sister even convinced a 240-pound guy to jump in for a few minutes during one of her outdoor yoga classes.
MODIFICATIONS - we have a few modifications to the final project after meeting and working with our San Diego factory. They have a very nimble workforce of about 30 cross-trained employees, have been making skateboards since the 1970s, and are one of the few skateboard manufacturers in the US who have survived while others have closed or moved to China.
1. NO SCREWS - The first modification is the use of wooden dowels to replace screws on the Chinese samples. This gives the board a sleeker look and now we're using 100% wood. This costs us a bit more per board, but the aesthetics are great.
2. SCREEN PRINTING - Our second modification involves screen printing of our logo. Most skateboards use heat transfer printing for artwork. There's no art to this process and it's cheaper. We decided that screen printing adds the human touch to the manufacturing, and each board is potentially original due to slight variances in the printing from board to board.
3. LOCAL QUALITY CONTROL - Finally, because we've moved operations to the US we now have local quality control measures, including this pattern created in our San Diego workshop.
Our first two samples out of the San Diego factory are awesome, and we're almost ready to go into production.
We need your help. We want to manufacture our boards here in the US. Each board will be handmade in the US with sustainable wood. We have to purchase a certain quantity from our Canadian wood-supply company to get competitive prices. This is why the costs are quite high initially, but should come down after the first production with economies of scale, working out the kinks, and streamlining the operation.
Risks and challenges
The largest risk I have in the US are similar to the ones I would have had if I produced the boards in China. It's quality control.
First, I am producing the boards with wood harvested in a sustainable manner. This is the goal I made and which I promise my potential customers. So, I have to make sure that the source is always a good one. If not, I will continue to look elsewhere.
Second, foremost and finally, the boards have to be manufactured well. Since I am within driving distance of the San Diego factory I will be able to monitor production. I recognize that it is one thing for a company to produce a few samples; after all, they are doing their best to impress me. So, I'll make sure that all the boards look like the great samples they have produced.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)