What were your original motivations for getting into creating the "ultimate touring kayak"?
For me, I think I had a natural draw to the simplicity of these innovative kayaks, and how they allowed people all over the world to break open their boundaries. Skin-on-Frame kayaks originate from Indigenous watercraft more than 4000 years old; traditional kayaks made by the Aleut and Inuit peoples from Greenland and the Western Arctic. Our kayaks offer this quality but are also super tough and super portable. The modern version of the original watercraft, if you will. I think that was very alluring for me.
Also, we live in turbulent times and people need to find ways to break away and peel back the layers of complexity that build up in our lives. No better place to go within, than being surrounded by nature. We are made up of over 70% water. Getting on the water brings us into alignment with our nature. This gives me great personal purpose and drive, knowing that our kayaks are giving people access to this experience for themselves.
How long have you both been paddling for?
I did a little canoeing when I was growing up in Saskatchewan in the 80’s but had my first experiences kayaking down in the Bay Area in 2001-2002. The change in perspective of seeing San Francisco from the water, looking back to shore, as opposed to 99.9% of the others standing on the shore looking out at the water. This made me feel alive and like I was unique and powerful. I still feel this shift of perspective every time I paddle.
Using crowdfunding, you helped raise a lot of money for your company... how was the overall crowdfunding process for you?
Crowdfunding was a natural choice for us. After we conducted an extensive paddlesport study in 2015 and learned what over 1600 paddlers wanted in an “ultimate” touring kayak, we then engaged 10 of our very experienced TRAK paddlers and complemented that with a fresh perspective from 10 experienced kayak instructors and guides. They were able to bring their unbridled feedback based on their extensive experience kayaking and bringing so many new people into kayaking. The process to develop the TRAK 2.0 was unique, challenging, and definitely sourced input from “the crowd”. This really informed the design. When it came time to introduce it, the platform of crowdfunding made a lot of sense. We found an agency that had particular expertise building campaigns that really performed in this space. We put a lot of work into jointly producing the video and marketing assets for this short campaign. It was stressful! It has the qualities of “putting all your eggs in one basket”, but that is often required when you set your sights on doing something powerful. In the initial 30-day Kickstarter campaign, the support was overwhelming, but it also validated the hard work that was done by many people to create a product that would really break boundaries. Crowdfunding has given us a strong “springboard” to build our global community.
When did you first become aware of cryptocurrency?
My first awareness of cryptocurrency was through hearing about Bitcoin, back in 2012 or 2013. I have a friend in Calgary, now down in the LA area, that has built some businesses around the blockchain and he introduced the revolutionary aspects of it to me. I’m a big proponent of paradigm shifting innovations, especially when they are approaches that can have a very positive impact in the world. I believe cryptocurrency to be one of these innovations.
Your company is one of the first to ever sell someone a kayak for Bitcoin... tell us more how this happened?
When we were approached about accepting Bitcoin by a customer in Norway, we researched the ways to do that, got registered with a wallet, and made the transaction. It was actually a lot of fun, and stimulated some fantastic discussions around the office. After wrapping our collective heads around it, there wasn’t anyone that didn’t have an appreciation for its application in the world. Now it is very easy for us to do this, and we look forward to unleashing more paddlers onto the world's waterways with Cryptocurrency fuelling the passion.
You now accept Bitcoin via your Shopify storefront for upcoming kayak orders... was this an easy sales decision to transition into?
For TRAK, it was natural to embrace Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin as it is another invention that breaks a paradigm and offers a sense of freedom and vitality. I think we all appreciate finding solid ways to break away from the grips of control and embraces "the power of the crowd". The blockchain technology is revolutionary and is dependent on every member of the community that comprises it. We are building a global community of paddlers that are themselves turning to choices in their lifestyle that give them vehicles for freedom. I think there is likely a lot of similarity in mindset to those early adopters of Cryptocurrency. The pursuit of truth and personal truths is a common aspiration and journey for the respective participants.
How has the response been since allowing this form of currency?
To date, we’ve only had a few transactions with this currency. I think if we make more people aware of it as an option, we will see this expand.
Do you feel in the future more companies and outdoor products will start accepting Bitcoin and other forms?
I think that those companies that take the time to understand the technology and trust its use, then they will start to adopt it. I do believe that the mindset of global sustainability with people involved in the outdoors, will naturally bring demand to this form of transaction. The people will drive this! I love that.
And finally, are there any plans to start accepting other forms of cryptocurrency?
Definitely will be adding more as the demand for it arises!