Recently I had the pleasure of g-chatting with DCDomain from our little community, regarding his latest endeavor, Ride Qi. Ride Qi is a small (and growing) snowboard accessories company, focused on keeping your neck and face warm, without making you look like a kook or break the bank. If you haven't heard about them here on Sierra, then it's probably because they've been too busy product testing (ahem snowboarding) and getting their product in line for world domination. I was curious to find out how one goes from snowshred enthusiast to snowboard company entrepreneur. Let's find out what makes them tick.
Morning. Did you get your shred on this weekend?
Yeah, not a bad start to the season though the storm missed us. Same trip last year yielded pow days at Killy.
So for the record. tell your name. occupation. location. and astrological sign.
Hah, I think of Mascha (aka Xadness) when people mention astrological signs. Darren Chan, Freelance Designer, Brooklyn, Taurus
How did you decide to start RideQi? And why facemasks?
It was during a trip out to Japan. I was sick of my previous job after six months, had a toxic boss. So my coworker and I quit without the 2 week notice, bought a plane ticket to japan that afternoon and left the next morning. We were riding in Japan the next day with a friend out there, Hakuba
So while riding there, my mind was going nuts since I was newly unemployed, and had this blank slate in front of me. We were chatting on the ski lifts about a variety of products.
I usually never wear any face protection, and we just started talking about why. Eventually started talking about how to improve them. The company idea and actually making them didn't surface until a few months later when my business partner really pushed it. So we went for it.
I'm sure people want to know, how has it been going?
Doing the crowdsourcing thing... I tried in the beginning to get some feedback from friends. Lots of "oh... not too bad..." Since launch, we've moved about 50 units of each pattern (that's about 150 face masks, not too shabby with next to no advertising)
Nice. and some of the details of the product? In 140 characters or less (LOL)
Tweet length? Dang.
Don't want this to turn into a marketing ad, ya know?
Well okay how about making it personal. We got some feedback from friends, but I never really wore a facemask because once i pull it down I pretty much left it hanging around my neck for the rest of the day. Retightening it meant taking off my goggles and helmet (which is a total pain).
Ok. So how is this product different? From Airhole, Neff, Burton and the classic bandana or Turtle Fur?
The one feature a lot of the Sierra members (and others) liked were the elastic ear bands which allow for easy pulling up and down of the facemask. Plus it's much more breathable than the other options.
And comparison from a cost perspective?
We tried pricing it at the lower end of all the other masks which were around $20 - $35 because we had plans to make a heavier mask in the $30 range before launch. So far, the feedback has been pretty good, lots of ideas to
So how are you guys promoting and marketing this thing?
Just Twitter, forums, some blog mentions. We don't want to be a shill, so I've pretty much only mentioned it in the Sierra forums. But one of the Sierra members mentioned it at another forum which generated some interest
Are you going to go the standard route: stickers, sponsored riders?
Stickers, yes. Sponsored riders no. W really don't have the budget for that.
What's next? SIA? Retailer distribution? World domination?
Beta mask. it's the heavier weight mask for colder conditions. Hahah, we're going slow. I want to hit up SIA just to see the behind the scenes. We have a very shoe-string budget so we have to weigh every decision carefully.
It must be tough to balance your dayjob and this gig? How do you do it?
Terribly, since the launch i've been pulled into the Ride Qi stuff for about 90% of my time. And my freelance projects have suffered. Thankfully everyone is sort of
in vacation / holiday mood.
Ok. Let's talk less about bizness and more about shred. current setup.
Salomon F20 / Rome 390 / Stairmaster for East Coast
Burton Hero / Fish / un..inc bindings for West Coast
Goofy? Regular? Stance angles?
Regular, maxed out on my stairmaster, not sure how wide it is
15, -15 (24.5" or 25")
Who are your snowboard heros? Who do you look up to?
Trice, especially after the hit he took last year practicing for the Xgames. He seems super nice too when he was accepting his rider of the year awards. Plus Todd Richards (we love Brant too)
Anyone on the bizness side? Why?
(Ken) Block. I absolutely love his story. Well going from screen printing at a local community college to the big time!
Last few questions. Favorite place to shred?
Killington. I pretty much started riding there
Ok. Patented Hoon word association time. Rapid fire.
Spike Lee: Brooklyn
Jay Z: empire
Shaun White: Plaid
Fashion nightmare: skinny pants
Don't Jersey VT: The a-hole parkrats
BMB: Forum / community upgrade
Sierra Snowboard: Cozy
Ok homie. That's it, that's all. Thanks for spending the time. Any parting words????
Ride on! that's all i got...
Oh last question. how the hell do you pronounce Qi? Q? Qee? Chi?
If you made it this far, make sure to check out RideQi and their alpha facemask. They're also all over Twitter, Facespace and this here messageboard. We're also running a Hoon-style promotion with RideQi. The best "promotion" or shout-out of RideQi will win a free Alpha facemask plus stickers and may be some other stuff from the Hoon closet. Get out there and promote RideQi, then report back in the comments section of this article. We'll choose a winner on 1/31/10.