Crowdfunding Innovation in Bike Safety
In our Winter 2015 American Bicyclist magazine, we looked at the “Big Ideas” coming out of the bike movement. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms have enabled countless big ideas to get off the ground. One of them is Nick Drombosky’s Fiks:Reflective, which is rewriting the script on bike safety. Want American Bicyclist in your mailbox? Join the League today!
You might find it odd for a reflective gear company to leave the safety talking points out of its marketing to consumers. But for Nick Drombosky, that’s what makes his Pittsburgh-based company, Fiks:Reflective, work.
His company’s tagline says it all: “Stay safe without looking like a traffic cone.” “Safety doesn’t sell to a big market–safety sells to mothers and then safety sits in the bottom of a drawer,” Drombosky said. “We make cool products that people want to use, want to brag about, and post pictures of. Look at our Instagram or Facebook: we have 15-year-old kids all over the world wanting to get their hands on our products. Find a safety products company that has that.”
Fiks:Reflective is one of dozens of upstarts that used Kickstarter to launch products that are revolutionizing cycling safety and taking bike appeal to new heights. For Drombosky, Kickstarter’s insurgence came at just the right time. It provided a relatively low-risk way to try his hand at something new — something he believed could work.
“At the time, it was the middle of the recession, and as a college drop-out there weren’t a lot of prospects out there, so I thought I would pitch the Wheel Stripe idea on Kickstarter to see if I could make some money to keep from draining what I had from my previous company,” he said.
He was right. His project was funded, and Fiks:Reflective products are now distributed in nine countries and Drombosky manages direct-to-consumer sales in 52 countries. He’s also in talks with large retail brands about collaborating on new products. The success, he said, is embedded in his products’ simplicity.
“Fiks:Reflective isn’t innovative in the way that most of us think about innovation,” he said. “It isn’t going to change how we live or even how we ride bikes. What makes Fiks:Reflective innovative is how we took an existing technology and material and designed simple solutions to deal with a very basic problem.”