Monday, July 19, 2010

Why Do You Do What You Do?

I received this short newsletter from Rick Margiotta (event director for CapTexTri) yesterday that I just had to share. I want to say that the person Rick speaks about, Nicolette Maroulis is an amazing individual. She's not immune to bad days just as any other human, but she does chose, every day, to get back up and fight with everything she has to move forward. Please read on and make sure to visit her blog.

"Why do you do what you do? I get asked this question quite often while we are setting up for the CapTexTri, and even more in the days immediately following the event. Sure there are answers like "I do it for the athletes", or "I love the sense of accomplishment we get", or "I really get off on the organized mayhem", and every now and then my answer is "I do it for the money", though that answer usually gets me some odd looks because anyone in the business knows that can't be the case.
The real answer can be found in Nicolette Maroulis. Please, please, please, go to her website and read her blog about her ride from San Francisco to Virginia Beach. You will be moved.
We chose to support the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project with the Capital of Texas Triathlon in 2009. After meeting the first group of wounded warriors at the race last year, Brad and I knew we made the right choice to use the race to raise money for these amazing individuals. This year, we created the Wounded Warrior Dinner to be the primary fundraising event during the Memorial Day Weekend in Austin. In preparing for the Dinner, we had the great fortune of meeting Nicolette. Many of our organizing committee members had the privilege and honor of also meeting Nicolette, and other wounded warriors who came to participate in the CapTexTri. Nicolette could not stay for the Dinner nor the triathlon, since she was headed off to San Francisco to start her ride in late May. I am looking forward to her return home to Austin once she completes her coast to coast journey. I hope we can give her a hero's welcome.

So when I am asked "Why do you do what you do?", a big reason why is that I do it to honor those men and women of the Armed Forces who have given so much to keep us free.

Thanks for letting me introduce you to Nicolette"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sunblock Staining Clothes: Product/Active Ingredient Alert!

I felt it important to share what I have just experienced with a product I've been using for years which seems to have suddenly changed some of it properties thus staining 3 of my favorite cycling jerseys. Jerseys aren't cheap so I'm really not too happy right now. I hope I can save someone else some trouble and money with this information.

For years I have been using Coppertone Sport and have been very pleased with it's performance. I've recently restocked my supply and noticed that now my white jerseys have suddenly turned yellow. So you know, I put sunscreen underneath my jersey especially across the back of my shoulders. I learned from a dermatologist some years ago that the rays that cause skin cancer are not the same rays that cause your skin to darken. The cancer causing rays go through your clothing so it is wise to put the sunscreen even on in areas which are covered.

I noticed that Coppertone now has "replenishing antioxidants!". I contacted Coppertone and they tell me that if I have not machine dried my jerseys there may still be hope. Now I'm not totally sure if it's the new antioxidants that they have added or if they have changed something else, but the reason they give for the staining is an active ingredient called Avobenzone of which Coppertone Sport has 3%. Since I only hang dry my jerseys they tell me that I can try to use OxyClean or Shout stain removers.

So if you own any jerseys or other clothing that is white, beware of the chemical Avobenzone in ANY sunblock you may be using. If you hang dry your jerseys and they are already stained, you may still have hope to return them to a pristine white. I am going to go try to fix mine now. Wish me luck!

Oh, and sorry Coppertone brand, YOU'RE OUTTA HERE!

Sunblock followup:
Wanted to share some additional information I've learned since my post. I took a look at several brands and pretty much all of them have Avobenzone but in different concentrations. Like I said, Coppertone Sport has 3% (forSPF 50) and does state that it may stain some fabrics. I found that Banana Boat Sport has only 1.5% (forSPF 50) but has no warnings of possibly staining clothing. I still think that something else was added to Coppertone Sport, possibly the antioxidants which caused the staining since the brand had not previously stained my jerseys. I myself will steer clear of anything with antioxidants in it just in case. Sounds like a marketing gimmick anyway. :)

Jim from Whisper Cycles was kind enough to share with me what they used to remove sunblock staining from their new kits. He said that after trying many things they found that their shop hand cleaner Stout did the best job. Stout is a gritty, pumice filled concoction that you rub in by hand. My initial search online to find some only turned up soap made of beer which seems a bit sacrilegious. Someone needs to be held accountable for doing this with beer! Jim did get back with me and provided this link for Stout.

At the end of the day there are just too many fabric types/coatings and sunblock chemicals to really know for sure what will work well together or not. As much of a pain as it is, the only way to know for sure is by doing a test patch of the sunblock you intend to use on your jersey in an inconspicuous spot and see what happens. If it stains, DON'T put it in the washer and definitely DON'T put it in the dryer. Use Stout (or OxyClean or maybe even Dawn) to get stain out by hand, then go find another sunblock.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Capital of Texas Triathlon & Wounded Warrior Championship

“No person was ever honored for what he received.
Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” – Calvin Coolidge

Wounded Warrior Project Benefit Dinner announcement as of April 15 - Frank Denius will be the keynote

This year I am doing some work with the Capital of Texas Triathlon which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this Memorial Day Weekend. Not only does this give me an opportunity to increase my knowledge of yet another segment of the cycling/multisport industry, but allows me the chance to support the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project which is the beneficiary of CapTexTri.

The Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project is a partnership between Disabled Sports USA, its chapters and the Wounded Warrior Project, providing year round sports programs for severely wounded service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict and the Global War on Terrorism.

Forty-one years of experience has shown early intervention with active sports results in successful rehabilitation, leading to employment. The “Wounded Warriors” and their family members are provided these opportunities free of charge, including transportation, lodging, adaptive equipment and individualized instruction in over a dozen different winter and summer sports.

Programs take place at sites throughout the United States of America offering Wounded Warriors the opportunity to integrate as participants and mentors in their home communities.
The Capital of Texas Triathlon wishes to honor those who have given so much for our country by building  Memorial Day Weekend around the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project. Starting off with a benefit dinner on Thursday May 27th, a proposed ride with wounded veterans on Saturday the 29th, and culminating with the Wounded Warrior Championship Race on Monday the 31st, this weekend is for them.

How can you or your company help our heroes?

Your company:
Event sponsorships (see brochure with demographic info)
Multisport and Fitness Expo
Sponsor a Wounded Warrior athlete to compete at CapTexTri
Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project Benefit Dinner (Thur. May 27th at the Austin Hyatt)
      Corporate Table Sponsorship starting at $1,500 (recognition and table seating 10)
      Donate items for raffle, live or silent auctions
Email and please reference DareToBrand so I can follow up with
you directly.

You: If you live in Austin we need:
Volunteer committee members for CapTexTri
Volunteer committee members for Wounded Warrior Benefit Dinner
      Email for committees at and reference specific committee you can help

Race day volunteers (Memorial Day, Monday May 31st)
Register as race volunteer here

I invite you all to take advantage of this opportunity with me to show our disabled service men and women how much they are appreciated. Our help can make a difference in their lives.

Please contact me direct at for detailed sponsorship information.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Concept Designs In Cycling/MultiSport

Everyone has heard of the Detroit Auto Show, right? This is where all the big names come out to show off their visions of the future of automobile manufacturing. We love to see the amazing new designs, the elegant curve of a fender, the bold statement of chrome a grill, the unusual way the doors may open, etc. This is their way to show the world what wonderful new boundaries they are pushing in style, technology, function and safety.

Concept designs naturally bring about the curiosity in us. We all get excited when we hear that XYZ Company is going to unveil a new technology or design and we can't wait to see it, right? This is true even if it may be something that isn't completely ITU or UCI legal... for now. Concepts are the best way to show the consumer just how far ahead you are thinking as well as how hard you are studying the sport and the needs of the consumer/athlete.

The lack of concept designs in the cycling/multisport industry has kept technology from moving forward as much as it could. For the most part, all technological advances that we see at shows like Interbike are built within current UCI/ITU standards and are part of regular product line to be delivered to retailers the following season.

So why hasn't the cycling/multisport industry typically made use of concept designs? Coming from the manufacturing side of multisport I can tell you that there are two sides to this issue.

Manufacturers in this industry are stretched thin from what I've seen. This means very little if any research is done in coming up with new materials for their own brand. Materials used are most often the ones most easily found and broadly marketed. Yes I do understand about supply as well, and some super high tech materials are produced in low quantity due to price and/or demand. One thing that producing concept designs does is start the process of demand which eventually requires these materials to produced more readily. If no one ever started designing aircraft out of carbon fiber, the abundance would not be near what it is today.

Factories have a pretty set list of materials to use for what they assemble. If you go to them and tell them you want a wetsuit for example, they give you a list of materials that they use and you pick which ones you want them to make it with in order to hit a certain price point. You may also submit your own patterns or work with them to develop some with you. This process almost discourages thinking out of the box because it takes time and money and the factories are usually reluctant to come up with new techniques for assembly and even new equipment to achieve what is needed. Factories can and must be coerced to step beyond their current limitations in order to move ahead.

The companies in the cycling/multisport industry who invest in concept designs are the ones who will ultimately succeed in not only standing out from the crowd, but earning credibility as the authority on the design of a particular product.

Here's a thought, in order to consider something a concept doesn't mean it has to be that from top to bottom. How about "concept on a budget"? That is, take a product from your sellable line and plug in a part, section or feature that is conceptual. In some manufacturing instances this may not work but you will have to figure that out on your own.

Back up your concept. A concept product that looks like everything else, is, well nothing really. At least in the consumer's eyes if it fails to look, function or feel special you will hardly get any attention with it. This also falls in with marketing. The other thing to keep in mind is what it will do for the consumer. A concept design should do something better. Faster, stronger and lighter are all barriers we try to break through in sports. Talk is cheap; you need verifiable numbers that can prove what you are accomplishing.

Include your sales and marketing people in your proposed concept design BEFORE you start. They should be able to tell you if what you propose is something that the retail buyer and consumer needs. Producing concepts which are not congruent with these needs in mind is a waste of time and money, not to mention that you will lose credibility from the industry and consumer.

Don't make the mistake of starting a brand with a concept if you don't have a sustainable, sellable line. What happens in this case is that the consumer says "Wow! That's really cool! So what do you make that I can afford/use right now? Nothing? Oh, well I guess I'm going to have to take my excitement and go purchase something from someone else.” No matter how cool or advanced your concept is, if you don't have something right there to direct the excitement and money toward that they CAN buy, you will inevitably look like, well... a schmuck.

So what are you waiting for? Make this part of your budget and get to work!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow Mobile Modification

Due to the snow in Austin, the city has recommended the following modification to your vehicle...

Appears that the instructions have been stolen by a foreign country. A full investigation will get underway as soon as I have breakfast. In the meantime, please enjoy the rest of my blog. Cheers!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Company & Product Launch

First I'd like to say welcome to 2010! It's going to be an exciting year with many new ventures at hand. I wish you all a successful, happy and healthy year.

Now let's talk about launching a new company/product. The first and most important part of this to keep in mind is that you only have one chance to launch. That being said it is vital that you spare no effort in finding out exactly what you need to do, when you need to do it, and how THE CONSUMER will view your new product.

One of the biggest reasons people in cycling/multisport create a new company and product is because they want to provide something to the consumer that they believe can be made better, look better, and fill a role better than the next person. Many of these attempts end up falling short because of the incredible amount of detail required to design something that truly fulfills the role more completely and stands out among all the other products competing for that role.

Research the need. Is it possible that this type of product already exists or something very similar? If you believe there is a need, the buck can't stop there. Call retailers nationally, speak with athletes from all corners. Do internet searches. Make room to hire people who can guide you and who have experience in the industry. Perhaps your idea has been selling like hotcakes in Europe and that company is about to launch in the US with full distribution and a huge marketing budget. Can you afford to not research this?

Product Design:
The best type of person needed to create such a product is someone who not only understands technology and design, but has experience with all perspectives from the actual use of the product as an athlete, to construction, through the process of planning how it will be sold. Let's face it, you simply have to know the mind of not only the athlete, but of the athlete as a consumer. That isn't all. You must also know the mind of those who do the buying for the retailers you want your products to be sold through. I've seen many a buyer who has lost the twinkle of excitement in their eye due to the overuse of gimmicks. There is a big difference between gimmicky and hard truth, and a good buyer will know when you have to give a lot of fluff. Make sure your product doesn't need fluff in the design phase, not the often afterthought marketing phase. Marketing must be a part of the whole design, especially when dealing with a highly educated demographic such as triathletes.

When do you launch your product? Do you have someone who can make your product? What is their manufacturing schedule? When do you need samples made? When do you need supporting materials in hand? When will you need to go to production? When will you need to deliver your production to the market? The answers to these questions will vary depending on your market. For instance, products released for triathlon will not meet the same timetables as they would for swimming. The region of release may also vary due to climate. I have listed a few of the questions that need to be answered, and missing any can create as little trouble as a headache, to major problems with your company's sales and credibility.

Make no mistake, having passion for the sport and your product IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE for tons of research and relentless planning/design. Passion IS a huge asset when you know when to separate emotion from what research is telling you and common sense. I've seen glorious passion completely obliterate companies because it was allowed to override good sense, sometimes even from inception.

The larger a company becomes, the harder it seems to keep that passion and vision. When work gets doled out it is often a mistake to hire people who don't share the same passion or knowledge of the sport. I would use the analogy of an actor who just reads a part instead of "being" the part. Trust me, the ultimate success of a product is best served by people who have the passion, not who are just paid to do the work.

Promoting the launch:
A company/product launch can be a complete disaster if you don't have the right connections and relationships in the industry. On your own it can literally take years to develop a network of industry leaders and outlets for media attention. The people who know and accept your product to start with are critical to credibility. Non-competing manufacturers, athletes, product review sites, industry magazines, podcasts, retailers and governing bodies to name a few are all resources which can make your product highly visible and credible very quickly. Again, it's worth it to get help with this from people who have those relationships already in hand, otherwise your grand launch may only fizzle. As with everything else I've spoken about, timing is critical. Winter is not the best time to launch a hydration product, and a triathlon specific transition bag is not best launched at a mountain bike race. I know this sounds a bit dim, but sometimes the mentality is that the more places promoted at, the better. This really isn't the case. Get established in places focused on activities that your product is tied in with.

The bottom line is that there is much more to this than meets the eye. It's no wonder there is such a high failure rate of small businesses. Too often passion crushes good sense, and without a road map and people with the experience on your side you are taking a much greater risk than you need to. Are you risking your credit, your home, your life savings, your family? You have choices.

Best wishes in 2010!