The one positive about being in the midwest during the cold winter months is the snow we have and the ability to go skiing. We get more white powder here than Charlie Sheen goes through in a weekend (it’s a lot, trust us). All of us guys like to pretend that we are phenomenal skiers but that is only when we stay on the greens and try to avoid any possible bump that might actually take us off the ground a bit. But we all run into that one moment where our manhood is challenged by a friend (or even a girlfriend) and we make the mistake of going down a black with several bumps and even a ramp that we suddenly think we can go off of. We all know how this sad sad story ends and we lose our skis and suffer the rest of the weekend in Colorado with bruised ribs. The worst part? We lose the deposit on the rented skis because we were never able to find them after eating it on the bunny hill.
The guys and girls over at Ski Retriever saw that as a problem and decided to help us amateurs (and some pro’s) out by designing a simple tag system that helps us find lost skis. You attach the Ski Retriever skis tags to your skis and then activate the tags by pairing it with the handset. What this does is allow you to be on the hill and pull out your credit card sized handset and begin to use it as a guide to find your lost skis (all because you had to go off that one ramp and ruin your entire ski weekend getaway). It is a very easy concept that we really like and the size of the handset makes it very easy to keep with you across all of the slopes. This will insure that you will only look like a tool on the slopes but won’t receive the shaking head of the guy you rented the skis from. It’s a 50/50 situation that really works in your benefit.
We managed to snag an interview with Aaron Jurgens, the COO for AKKA USA, which is the group responsible for Ski Retriever. He was able to shed some more light on the gadget and even more!
Could you introduce yourself and the role you play at Ski Retriever? My name is Aaron Jurgens, and I work as COO for AKKA USA. I assist our CEO, Anthony Kolb, by heading up operations here at AKKA. I’ve grown up in one of the snow capitals of the US, Washington state, where I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some great winters. I have a background in Web Development, Marketing and Operations Management. After helping Anthony out with various marketing and web projects over the last couple of years he asked me to join him full time. Believing in the company and the product from the moment I heard about it, my response of course was, “When do I start?”.
Can you tell us how the product came about? What was the “moment” the Ski Retriever was born? The Ski Retriever was created as an answer to the issue of ski / gear loss on the mountain. Our founder, Anthony Kolb, has lived in the Northwest his whole life and has spent a large portion of his life skiing here as well as a ton of places around the globe. No matter where he was, all of the skiers that he encountered could agree on one simple thing: “Digging for your gear sucks!”. A perfect day on the mountain can be ruined by losing a ski or a piece of gear and having to spend hours digging to find it. Ski Retriever was created to abolish this problem.
As awesome as we are at Gadgets 4 Guys, sometimes we don’t explain the idea behind the gadgets as well as we should. In your own words, can you tell us what Ski Retriever does? The Ski Retriever is a simple concept, but a complex and powerful tool. Each Ski Retriever kit comes with two RF (radio frequency) tags and a handset that syncs up to them. Installation is a breeze. The user starts by simply mounting a tag to each of their skis using our easy mounting kit. From there, it takes a quick couple of button pushes to pair the tags to the handset and the user is good to go. Up to 4 tags can be paired to a single handset. With an additional tag kit (contains 2 tags) the user can sync up to 2 more tags that are placed on their gear or even on a friend’s set of skis. The Ski Retriever uses a directional antenna to locate skis / gear buried under snow from hundreds of feet away. Rather than using a passive system like other retrieval products on the market, the active radio frequency tag system allows for highly accurate locating at great distances.
What type of skiers should Ski Retriever appeal to, amateur or experienced? Why? The Ski Retriever system is really meant for skiers of all experience levels. It’s designed for anyone who doesn’t want to waste a day on the mountain trying to locate their gear. No matter how experienced the skier is, there are times when skis can get away from them. Spending time looking for skis is not something that anyone enjoys doing and losing them all together can ruin more than just one day.
For all of the interested skiers out there, where should be people go to buy Ski Retriever? We are currently selling Ski Retriever in over 70 locations in the United Stated and Canada. Skiers can use our dealer locator to find a shop near them to pick up the Ski Retriever system. If their local snow shop doesn’t happen to carry the Ski Retriever, they can always purchase the system directly on our website and / or ask their shop to contact us to see how they can start selling Ski Retriever. Skiers can also check out our Kickstarter campaign to pre-order our version 2 Ski Retriever, known as the AKKA Ski Retriever.
What are some of the future goals of Ski Retriever? Can you share any future plans with Gadgets 4 Guys?
Currently we are in the process of developing a new version of the Ski Retriever that will be known as the AKKA Ski Retriever. The new AKKA Ski Retriever is a complete redesign of our original concept and includes many new features. We are using a cutting-edge directional antenna that is powerful and accurate enough to help a user locate gear hundreds of feet away and buried under feet of snow. The tag batteries are designed to last at least one season and run on standard lithium coin cells. The waterproof handheld utilizes AAA batteries and features an OLED screen. In addition to being able to locate the user’s skis, the AKKA Ski Retriever features a universal tag locator to help in finding friends skis or gear. It has the ability to locate other handhelds to aid in finding friends when separated on the mountain. The system will also include an innovative theft deterrent system for those who may be nervous about leaving their skis on the rack while grabbing a bite to eat in the lodge. Our Kickstarter page has a video and a write-up detailing our efforts and ideas that make this product so unique and specific for the industry.
Please take time to check out our Kickstarter Campaign @ http://kck.st/TRjRMp and contribute in any method you choose. Whether it’s pledging to the campaign or just sharing with your friends, family & colleagues, every effort and contribution is absolutely appreciated.