It's been a great few months for Altum; a successful kickstarter campaign with 405 backers, awesome win at Taipei Cycle Awards, and I am sure more accolades to come in the future.
In this article we speak with Dan Varney, inventor, innovator, businessman and entrepreneur aspiring to take the cycling accessory market by storm with Altum.
On Altum's kickstarter campaign:
"We delivered on time and haven't had to process a single refund, the former because we were well prepared and the latter because our product is great."
What was the inspiration behind Modual?
"As cyclists we became increasingly frustrated at how the performance and usability of conventional multi-tools (of the folding variety) had been sacrificed in order to cram in as many tool functions as compactly as possible. As a result, we needed a portable multi-tool to take out on the road as well as something more sophisticated for performing maintenance at home. As designers we also believe that every accessory we purchase for our beloved bikes should look, feel and most crucially, function, as well as possible and it was ultimately this unfilled expectation that inspired us to create MODUAL."
I am sure you tried numerous iterations, why magnets?
DV: "In truth, we didn't spend too much time on other alternative solutions as on paper it became clear early on that magnets would be technically viable and anything else would likely result in a dead-end. One of the major advantages of using neodymium magnets is that they removed the pressure of achieving the ultra-tight tolerances an interference fit would have required and then allowed us to experiment with their strength (i.e magnetism) to ensure that the tyre levers and tool bits are held securely enough when not in use but remain easy to release when called upon. Not to mention there is something immensely satisfying when the tyre levers click in to place!"
How did you choose the right tools to go in the set?
DV: "We quite simply narrowed the selection down to the 10 most commonly required tool functions (from a bike perspective) by speaking to cyclists and assessing their needs and then cross-referencing our findings against which tool functions were consistent among what was already on the market. That is not to say our selection is exhaustive and there were obviously some that didn't make the cut, however one of the things we plan to do is offer a wider range of individual tool bits as well as other MODUALAR attachments (such as a chain breaker) so you can expand the functionality of your tool as you see fit."
Tyre levers are tyre levers, surely? Glass filled Nylon - what was the reasoning for that
DV: "For the most part, yes, however in the case they aren't just tyre levers as they double up to form the tool's ergonomic handle and really contribute to how enjoyable it is to use! With respect to the material used, glass-filled nylon is fairly standard in the manufacture of tyre levers with the nylon base providing their core strength and the glass fibres their stiffness."
Kickstarter is hard work, what do you believe was your success and do you any advice to cycling entrepreneurs?
DV: "In a nutshell, extensive preparation and a good product! A well-prepared campaign tends to be enough to gain you the momentum needed to get you over the funding threshold, however the quality of your product is definitely the key to sustained success in life after Kickstarter."
"In our research phase (which started several months before we pressed go and launched the campaign) we pored over every other cycling-related campaign of note that had gone before and broke them down in to minute detail. From this we pinpointed what content/aspects/strategies/tactics etc were effective and which less so and used these findings as the baseline for our campaign. In addition to this, the prototypes we featured were pre-production and our supply chain was already in place. We had already spent a considerable amount of time finding the right manufacturers, working out all of costs and then planning the project accordingly. The vast majority of Kickstarter projects are delivered late (most of which considerably so) and too many backers are left underwhelmed by what they do end up receiving."
We delivered on time and haven't had to process a single refund, the former because we were well prepared and the latter because our product is great.
"We do have some regrets however (not that they matter much now) and wished we had done more in the way of paid-marketing in the build up to as well as during the campaign instead of relying so heavily on PR and Kickstarter's customer base. Whilst on paper what we raised was fairly modest, it was the extremely positive response from cyclists and the community as whole to our product range that was to be of much greater value.
My main advice to any other cycling entreprenuers keen on launching a product (and especially on Kickstarter) would be to make absolutely sure it offers something above and beyond what is already out there.
As I alluded to earlier, an average product is often good enough to get you through Kickstarter but the highly-competitive (and in some areas highly-saturated) cycling market beyond is not so forgiving."
Thanks for answering, so a final question; anything you can tell us about the future of Altum?
"Absolutely, we have lots of exciting developments planned for this year and those to follow! From a product perspective we are really looking forward to expanding our product range and plan to release the following:
- MODUAL Tool System - other variations of our multi-tool, including a smaller/lighter version and another with a ratchet mechansim
- MODUAL Tool Roll - an XL version with the capacity to hold larger inner tubes as well as other colour variations
- MODUALAR Attachments - additional modular attachments for use with our tool system, such as a chain breaker and 15mm spanner"
Thanks Dan for a very insightful interview and if you are interested in learning more about the product, please visit our product page below: