In order to show if any of my 10 best product ideas in the area of winter travel are novel, marketable, and/or feasible, I started with a simple survey to judge the interest of consumers. I sent out a short questionnaire with a rough sketch of my idea along with a brief description, followed by questions about people's interest in buying that idea. I got about 10 responses per idea, which I thought was pretty good given the short timeframe. Here are the results in graph form:
Based on the survey question: Would you buy this product if a functional version were available today?, I analyzed the results of the 10 ideas I put forth and eliminated the 5 that had the lowest percent of interest. Here were the results for each corresponding idea in terms of percentage of people who would buy the product:
80% - Extend-a-fender
67% - Fan Fender
80% - Turn Signal Fender
50% - Radio Hood
60% - Turn Signal Jacket
70% - Cinch socks
22% - Arm Strap Turn Signal
73% - Magnetic glove-sleeve Attachment
43% - Holiday Bike Treads
33% - Shape Cutting Snowshoe
One of the things I found most interesting from these results was that the lowest score I had was actually the idea that I thought would be the best product. I feel that the results generally leaned towards the ideas with the best drawings, however the Holiday Bike Treads was probably the best presentation-wise and was the 3rd lowest score. Going forward I selected the top 5 ideas from this list as follows:
2. Turn Signal Fender
3. Magnetic Glove-sleeve Attachment
4. Cinch Socks
5. Fan Fender
The next thing I analyzed was the price that people would pay for these ideas, to see if they were economically feasible to produce. The following shows the average amount that people said they would pay for these top 5 ideas:
1. Extend-a-Fender = $31.63
2. Turn Signal Fender = $36.33
3. Magnetic Glove-sleeve Attachment = $22.40
4. Cinch Socks = $16.90
5. Fan Fender = $19.33
Interestingly enough, the more popular ideas tended to be 'worth' more to the consumers in general.
In order to benchmark these ideas against what is currently on the market, I searched both Google and Amazon for similar products. If there were no similar products I used the closest thing to what my idea was. Using these ideas I then created a 2x2 chart of each of the 5 top product ideas that I had.
For my Extend-a-fender idea, there was really only two telescoping fender options on the market, and none which were immediately available to buy. Both of these options also seemed either flimsy/ cheap, or did not look like they would provide much spray protection. There is a product opportunity here for an extendable fender with a higher end build quality and spray protection.
For my Turn Signal Fender idea, there was really nothing I could find even close to this idea. I was extremely surprised that I couldn't find a single product that even combined head/tail lights with a fender. I think there is a major product opportunity here in creating a quality fender that also has lights including turn signals. My blog image was actually one of the first thing that showed up in a Google search.
When searching to a similar product to my idea of soft magnet strips in the end of a jacket sleeve and glove collar to attach seamlessly to keep weather out, I didn't find anything that was really that close. The only things I found were extremely expensive expedition type jackets that had mittens actually built in. The other things I found were mostly home remedies of ways of attaching gloves to a jacket.
For the cinch sock, there are many bike-specific shoe coverings that exist already for shedding water, however none use the actual sock as a way to cinch around the pant leg. This may be because a cinching sock might be uncomfortable though. There is a general lack however for a cheap shoe cover for commuters, so maybe this idea could be modified to be a shoe cover that is made out of cheap plastic bag-like material that is disposable after a few uses.
The idea of bike fender that acts like a traditional japanese fan that folds out has not been tried on the market yet as far as I can tell, however there are two similar inventions that recently got funding on Kickstarter. Both of these ideas combine concepts that I think the fan fender would incorporate, and seeing how quickly these concepts received crowdsourced funding makes it obvious that there is a market for relatively cheap and foldable bike fenders that can be stored when not in use. The benefit of a fanning bike fender would be that it would provide more coverage from spray, as it could fan out wider to cover the entire area behind your rump.
1. Extend-a-fender. There was a patent I found for a retractable bike fender, Patent US6367832 B1. This patent was filed in 2000 though. The following is a diagram of the patent:
2. Turn signal fender. A Chinese "Telescopic spash guard" patent was found that mentions attachment for a turn signal, and also having the guard be made of "luminous" material. However there are no diagrams or images, and the translation is very poor.
CN 203078661 U
3. Magnetic Sleeve Attachment for Gloves. I couldn't find a patent specifically connecting jackets to gloves with magnets, however I found a Chinese patent for "Magnetic combinational jacket and pants". These would have magnetic attachments to change the length of the pant legs and jacket sleeves.
CN 201754813 U
4. Cinch Socks. I found a patent for "Vapor-permeable waterproof sock". This sock has no cinching mechanism however.
US 20120198601 A1
5. Fan fender. I didn't find anything that resembled what my idea was, however there was a Chinese patent for a "Novel bicycle rear fender device", which describes a "fan" shape. However their diagram looks nothing like a fan.
CN 201419755 Y
In order to prove some of my product ideas as being feasible to be produced I did a rough manufacturing cost assessment.
1. Extend-a-Fender. This product could definitely be produced, and the product market that is not being taken advantage of is a higher quality extendable fender so I will attempt to make it out of alumnium. I found that Aluminum is selling at about $0.77 USD/ pound right now, and the approximate weight of this device would be 1 pound.
The manufacturing cost would then be $1.54 (2x bulk material cost). The wholesale price would then be about $4.62, and the retail price would thus be around $15. I am going to assume that with a retractable mechanism however, manufacturing cost would go up and I would be looking at anywhere from $3-5, to give me an approximate retail cost of $30-35. This falls in line with my survey results which said they would pay an average of $31.63 for this.
2. Turn Signal Fender. This product has not been produced, however to do a quick and rough estimation of the manufacturing cost, I will work backwards from the retail price of bike lights and fenders combined. Thus if fenders + lights cost $40 total, the material would cost around $4, and the manufacturing cost would be around $8.
3. Magnetic Sleeve Attachments. These could be included into any glove via an adhesive backing ala 3M. I found some flexible magnets with adhesive backing on Amazon for around $8, however these do not use the grade of adhesive I would be looking for to last a long time on a jacket. I think with a higher grade foam adhesive from 3M, these would cost around $15 for a pack, so around $1.5 for just the material. The manufacturing cost would then be around $3.
4. Cinch Socks. Since waterproof socks already exist, these are easy to estimate at around $25 a pair. If they included a cinch attachment, it may incur a little extra cost so I'm going to estimate them at around $30 a pair. Giving me a manufacturing cost of about $6. However if I went with a cheap plastic disposable version, plastic costs about $1 per pound and I would sell the covers in packs of 10 which would weigh maybe a half a pound. This would give me a manufacturing cost of around $1.
5. Fan Fender. This would have an identical manufacturing cost to the existing plastic fender solutions which around $20 retail. Working backwards this would give me a rough manufacturing estimate of $4.