When we started this equipment development, this was the big question we were faced with. In this hypothetical situation, consider the following:
Someone comes up with some cool piece of equipment, let’s call it the WaterWidget by ACMÉ-LEV. A spark of something that could be big. We, and others imagine the potential, the advancements, the expansion of the initial WaterWidget. ACMÉ-LEV, however, holding a piece of paper labeled patent, relaxes because it is absolutely certain that there is no competition. They can make whatever they want, charge whatever they want, treat their dealers and customers however they want.
The WaterWidget just sort of stagnates, the development slows to a crawl. The founder of ACMÉ-LEV sells out, gets kicked out or perhaps becomes interested in the WaterWidgetDeux, the WaterWidget stays just a version one point zero one. People, both the users and the observers request more, they request better, they request more possibilities. ACMÉ-LEV just keeps doing what ACMÉ-LEV does and fails to meet the expectations of the market. They essentially tell the market, “shut up and ride the hose”.
At the core of it, it boils down to one simple desire. We want cool equipment, we want evolving advancing, not crazy expensive, cool shit. Not a unique want, it is what everyone wants. The very genesis of the question and cultural meme “where’s my jetpack?”. We wanted the X-Widget.
The big question, “How can we make this stuff cooler so we can ride the way we are supposed to?”
Here are three choices on how to answer the big question.
A. Throw our hands up and say, “oh well, guess the ACMÉ-LEV company is first company to build the WaterWidget, guess this sport is just going to remain whatever ACMÉ-LEV wants it to”. In this answer to the big question. We walk away, the sport slowly develops, if ACMÉ-LEV fails the sport fails. ACMÉ-LEV is awesome, long live ACMÉ-LEV!
B. We approach ACMÉ-LEV with our ideas how to make the WaterWidget more awesome. We tried this in one case, one ACMÉ-LEV told us sort-of-not-really-politely that they know the WaterWidget best, they “invented” the WaterWidget, and if anyone was going to make a better, cheaper WaterWidget it was going to be ACMÉ-LEV and we could take our X-Widget and leave the playground to them. In another thinly veiled example, another ACMÉ-LEV company makes it clear to the world that they and only they are the most amazing, awe inspiring company in the history of this or any universe, and make it clear that dissent is not tolerated. This choice in this common path is fairly clear also.
C. By process of elimination we arrive at the final scenario. We look for the way to realize the advancements, to make the X-Widget, to sell the X-Widget, to expand the sport and spur development. One way is to avoid markets with a barrier and go into markets that are open and free. Another approach is to clear the obstacles in the path. The limitation imposed by ACMÉ-LEV. We look at the validity of the patent,we look at what they claim and compare it to what is free in the market, in history. We find a way to enter the market, we change adapt and evolve. If we are forced to, we look at invalidating the patent. Not because we are following some dickish greedy instinct, but because it is the only path that is open to us.
We have a lot of ideas on how to make the equipment perform better. How to make the equipment safer and easier to use. To build a dealer network that can make money and build a sustainable business model.
Nature abhors a vacuum. We abhor a style and function vacuum. If the ACMÉ-LEV’s of the world won’t make the stuff cooler, we will.
That is the way that we answer the question. We invent and develop continuously, look at our solutions. What we don’t do, is patent and try to keep others out of the pool, openness is the winning strategy. Open the sport, compete on ideas and equipment. We are confident in our ability to innovate and thrive. Confident in the market and the legal system to recognize an open and established field.