BY RICH PALZEWIC
Have you ever wished for a warm, lightweight, packable and waterproof winter boot? If you have, look no further than the Arrival Point Footwear boots being released in the near future.
About two years ago, Rick Budde and Kurt Korkowski were looking for a business opportunity, so with Budde being a passionate Nordic skier (he’s skied the American Birkebeiner 20 times), it seemed a natural fit to try and incorporate skiing into the mix.
“We had tossed around a few other ideas that didn’t develop into much,” said Budde in a phone interview, who along with Korkowski live in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. “We settled on this idea after I went to a Worldloppet Nordic ski race in Switzerland called the Engadin Skimarathon. I had done other trips like this in the past, but I was always frustrated that I could never find a pair of boots that I could easily pack in my suitcase. I wanted to just have another great pair of boots for hiking or to just walk around town in. I searched hard over the Internet for weeks, but I couldn’t find anything that I really liked.”
Budde noted that you can find women’s boots that would be considered collapsible, but he said those are more fashionable and not very outdoorsy. He also found a collapsible running shoe and insulated winter boots obviously, just not the type of winter boots he was looking for … ones that fold up and don’t take up a lot of space. With Korkowski and Budde both being engineers, they decided about a year and a half ago to design their own boots.
The two mentioned that they are on prototype four or five, and the early part of the process was just trying to find some industry partners.
“We just needed to make contacts with people to make sure we could actually get the parts manufactured,” Budde said. “We found a very good industry partner who has a lot of experience with shoe companies to help set up things with factories in Asia. We consider our boots warm, waterproof, multisport usable, but also collapsible and easy to pack.”
The boots contain no leather or hard plastic and have a neoprene sock that goes up above the ankle. The lower part of the boots is made of a Polartec NeoShell waterproof, breathable fabric. There’s also 600 grams of Polartec insulation inside for warmth.
“The neoprene sock is pretty unique from what we have heard from people,” said Korkowski, who is working more on the business end of the project. “Many people we have shown that to like the fact that it protects the boots and ankles from getting snow down in there. It fits nice and snug.”
The boots are not quite available for purchase yet, but the two are hoping a successful Kickstarter drive will be enough to order tooling and get the community support. Right now, there is one set of tooling for size 10 boots. Korkowski and Buddeare about $30,000 into the project from just the tooling and consultant fees alone. To build out an entire fleet for all sizes, Budde noted that for the tooling alone, it will cost about $50,000. The factory where the boots would be manufactured also has a 3,000 minimum order … which means to start up everything for production, it would be over $100,000.
“We have a pretty decent estimate of what the boots will retail for – taking into account our costs and then putting a pretty standard industry markup,” said Budde. “In our preliminary planning, we are looking at a retail price of about $120. We won’t know (the price) exactly until we get into it totally, but that’s a rough estimate.”
The duo plans to raise the money they need with a Kickstarter campaign. To run a successful Kickstarter campaign, they need to know they have enough supporters to be successful before tackling the project. That’s where silent-sport athletes – and those simply looking for a versatile winter boot – can help. Once there are enough subscribers, they will go live on Kickstarter with the project.
If you are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, people will basically be pre-ordering the boot to provide the funds needed to do the manufacturing. Kickstarter supporters are called “backers” and they generally get a discount over the anticipated retail price by pre-ordering the item. Backers also get an opportunity to provide input on the design before it gets manufactured.
“We are trying to drum up the support needed,” Korkowski said. “We’d like to get our backers deals like getting two pairs for this price or three pairs for this much. Maybe we would throw in a sock or a collapsible bag. If you’re unfamiliar with how Kickstarter works, there are graduated levels of support. For sure the Kickstarter participants will get a discount off retail.”
The estimated date for the Kickstarter campaign to begin is November 1. Budde and Korkowski are in the phase of making sure they have enough backers – through Facebook, email lists, etc. – to make sure they have enough support once the program goes live to be successful.
“Kickstarter works in the way that it’s all or nothing,” added Korkowski. “If you have a goal of $120,000 and you get $119,000, you get nothing. Therefore, you have to have a pretty good idea that you’re going to reach your goal before you start a Kickstarter program. There are plenty of instances out there where groups have to go through it three or four times before it’s successful, but we don’t want to do that. It’s a letdown when you say a product will be out at a certain time and then it’s not.”
Budde and Korkowski estimate that they’ll need at least 750 backers to be successful. They are happy with the start so far and are targeting a 2019 date to begin production.
“Typically with Kickstarter, you have about a month to raise the money,” Budde noted. “Kickstarter takes five percent off the top, and then we would get the funds and work with our factory partners to get a production run going. It would probably take three to six months to get the boots produced and shipped through customs and such.”
You can like the Facebook page (Arrival Point Footwear) for more information and can get to that link directly through the website at apfootwear.com. You can email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org to have any other questions answered. There is a link on top of the page where you can also click on the “KICKSTART US” to get yourself on the email list.
Editor’s note: The statement below is directly from apfootware.com on the Kickstarter program.
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative and imaginative ideas that are brought to life through the direct support of others.
Everything on Kickstarter must be a project with a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it.