Cycling is great exercise and a convenient form of transportation, but it can also be quite dangerous. While there are various gadgets available to help make cyclists more visible to drivers, they frequently suffer from certain flaws. For instance, New Discovery’s Turn Signal, Brake Light, and Horn all-in-one can be confusing to install, while Buzztronics’ Wireless Bicycle Turn Signal can fall off all too easily. While you can make your own turn signal vest, cyclists are in need of a simpler solution.
That was the thinking behind the invention of Zackees Turn Signal Gloves – a wearable device that allows you to never take your hands off the handlebars in order to indicate your turning direction. Conceived by Zach Vorhies, a former software engineer for Google, it garnered a very successful Kickstarter campaign back in early 2014, easily surpassing its goal. Now available through the Zackees.com website, we spoke to Zach to learn more about how they made it.
“I made the gloves because my young neighbor was hit by a car while riding home. It was dark and the driver did not see him. He barely survived. He was never the same. I wanted to be more visible when I ride. I didn’t want to be afraid of sharing the road with cars,” explained Zach.
With that in mind, he quit his job at Google in 2013 and worked towards launching the gloves commercially. It wasn’t plain sailing though, mostly due to an important decision about which crowdsourcing site to use – Indiegogo or Kickstarter.
”[Indiegogo] asked us to switch over [from Kickstarter]. They promised to feature us to their customers in their email campaigns. I declined and it was a huge mistake,” explained Zach. “I was resistant to switch as I made the assumption that Kickstarter would feature me. But that was wrong. We couldn’t even get categorized under #bikes. To get that category you actually have to launch your campaign and then tweet the staff asking for the categorization. But they weren’t responsive. It took 4 of us 3 days of tweeting to finally get properly categorized.”
Kickstarter, it seems, was far from helpful as time went on. “Kickstarter never emailed their customer base about our product, despite that fact that other media sites were calling our product revolutionary and trend setting. We believed we were the hottest cycling product for our time period with Kickstarter but when they finally emailed their customers about a bike product they ended up featuring a board game about bikes that ended up grossed something like $10k.”
It was a mistake that could have been costly for the future of the gloves. “When we looked at the stats at the end of the campaign it turned out that 8% of the traffic was generated by Kickstarter. All the rest was generated by our own PR efforts.”
Fortunately, thanks to such great PR efforts, the Zackee Turn Signal Gloves paid off. Besides now being available to purchase on the official site, the future is looking even brighter. “Recently, we signed a deal to have our product featured on Amazon Exclusives. This has been pretty phenomenal for us and until yesterday we have been sold out due to the amount of customers that their platform can reach. This has been pretty awesome for us and we are going to continue selling through this channel for the foreseeable future.”
There are plans for a new crowdfunding campaign too, because as Zach explains “It’s pretty revolutionary that you can go out there with a functional prototype and get the working capital necessary to build the product at scale, highlighting how crowd-funding has matured to a level in which “the audience has become hyper-aware of how challenging it is for first time makers to meet their scheduling promises.”
With Kickstarters and Indiegogo campaigns ensuring that both consumers and developers are becoming increasingly more savvy, one thing is for sure – innovations are going to keep coming, and when it comes to ones that save lives, that can only be a good thing.
You can buy a pair of Zackees Turn Signal Gloves via the Zackees website with prices starting at $84.99.