To start this assignment, I went to Facebook, as I'm sure many of us did. I posted a status with the two ideas I was playing around with to see which would be more popular with my Facebook friends, as majority of my social media relationships are with people who would probably enjoy sledding or are close with someone who does. These were my results:
Of all these responses, 16 said they would use the Color Sled, so I chose to move along with this idea. From here, I went and asked these people how much they would be willing to pay for a sled like this, and their responses were this:
Their answers ranged from $20-$50, but said their price point could change depending on features and ability to actually use it right away.
The five most marketable ideas, in my opinion, are these:
1. Summer or Indoor Sled
2. Color Sled
3. Racing Paths for sledding
4. Snow Tunnel Structures
5. Snowball Sled (combined with Scoreboard)
Similar products that already exist that are similar (or the same) as a Summer Sled include water tubes, which range from anywhere between $20 and $250, an actual Summer Sled with wheels for sliding down a grassy hill, that costs about $60.00, and the Alpine Slide, a concrete track that a sled fits in (located in Lutsen, MN), which is $8 for a single ride. The Slicer Sled is the one with ice on the bottom.
The products that I found that are similar to Indoor Sledding would be the Alpine Slide (as it can be built indoors), and actual waxy hills that already exist indoors for sledding. The Snow Centre is a place I came across in my benchmarking that actually provides indoor skiing and snowboarding. A day pass for this would cost around $80.00.
There were no products that I could find in my benchmarking that are anything like Color Sled, so I searched sleds that simply leave unique tracks in the snow. I still found nothing. I came across a "Sheet Sled", $170, that you harness around your waist and use as a workout device. It (obviously) leaves paths in the grass as you drag it, and there is always the typical sled with lines on the bottom to help with speed and friction, and manipulating these lines would be an easy way to create unique designs in the snow. Still, however, nothing in my research involved color in the path making.
Everyone makes a path in whatever terrain they are sledding in when they go down a hill or pull someone in a sled, but I didn't find any products in my research that are specifically for making paths, are paths, or are for racing sleds. The only thing that I came across that applies to this would be the Alpine Slide, again, $8 per ride. It is a concrete luge like path built down a hill, which guides the sled that you sit in through twists and turns and dips. The sled itself has a handle that you push to go faster (it lifts the tracks on the bottom as to reduce friction), and push to stop (creating friction so you slow down).
Snow Tunnel Structures
I came across the Snowtunnel when researching this one, it is a large icy/snowy tunnel made for snowboarding through (some sort of extreme sport play aspect is applied, not exactly sure how). I am assuming you can go 360º around the tunnel when going through along with other tricks. However, it is a pre-made tunnel, the shape, size, and location are pre-determined. Construction fort by Discovery Kids, $40, is a set of snap together pieces that you can build a structure with, and then put blankets and pillows over to create an indoor fort. It is intended for inside, but could be used in the snow as well. I also came across molds for making shapes and snow castles, like you would on the beach, but this didn't have much relevance when it came to snow tunnels for sledding through.
The snowball thrower, a toy gun that shoots snowballs, sells for up to $25, and doesn't have a sledding aspect. However, it is the same concept that would be attached to the sled to project the snowballs. There were other products similar to this, but the only real snowball related sledding activity I came across was just simply throwing snowballs at each other as you ride down the hill.
I found a patent related to each idea, some more directly related than others depending on the existing popularity of the ideas.
The main concern I have for the Summer Sled idea, obviously, is that it already exists in more than one form. Another one I came across has a component on the bottom that you actually fill with water, freeze, and sled down a grassy hill.
The biggest concern I have for the Color Paths idea is the production price and the feasibility. It seems to be the most original, however, according to my research so far.
My biggest concern for Racing Paths would be the feasibility in making it original enough, and creating it so it is buildable; so the consumers can create their own paths that aren't permanent that that they can use in their own back yard.
Although there is nothing that I could find that is specifically for creating structures for sledding, the patent for this idea is pretty thorough and could be used for sledding.
The biggest concern for Snowball Sled would be the launching and collecting device itself, seeing as I found no evidence of it being applied to and working with a sled.
Manufacturing Price Assessments
After researching some sled materials, I made the assumption that most sleds were made of polypropylene. Polypropylene, from the site I found, is around $1.25 per pound, depending on the type. Thus, I am able to estimate my manufacturing costs. For a 10 pound sled, which applies to all of my ideas, the analysis goes something like this:
1.25 x 2 = 2.50 x 10 = $25.00
For the sleds that include metals, say, for the tracks on the bottom, I would assume aluminum. It costs roughly 94 cents per pound according to my sources. Thus, a sled with four pounds of aluminum would cost:
.94 x 2 = 1.88 x 4 = $7.52
Therefore, the Summer Sled, Color Sled, and Snowball Sled would probably cost around $25 to manufacture, give or take, assuming they weigh around 10 pounds and don't have metal tracks.
The tunnel structures, assuming one piece is 2 pounds and made of PP, would cost:
1.25 x 2 = 2.50 x 2 = $5.00. A pack of ten pieces would cost around $50.00.
Lastly, the racing paths, assuming they are pieces of plastic you fit together to create a track, and one piece weighs 15 pounds:
1.25 x 2 = 2.50 x 15 = $37.50. A pack of three would cost $112.50 to manufacture (roughly).