Arlo was about six or so when he learned the ole' plastic water bottle wedged between the spokes of your bike to mimic the sound of a motorcycle kids that age are always so desperate to recreate. I remember being shocked at just how great it actually worked. As a kid I had tried the baseball card version myself and found the same excitement in hearing my beloved purple Huffy take on that big engine sound so easily, with such minimal effort.
The folks behind "Spokester" got a little wiser. They designed a simple, practical hard plastic wedge that pops onto any standard bike frame, providing kids with a lasting faux motor groan with a "one size fits all" version that are sure to kick the cards and bottles to the curb. They sent us three to test out with the boys and to no one's surprise, they were an instant hit.
And because I'm always curious as to the back story behind such creations, I requested and interview from the creators to get some insight as to why and how they came up with it. Here's what I got:
Q. Hi. Thanks for sitting down to talk a little about your business. First off, where are you from?
A. Wow – that’s a long story. I was born in Midland, TX, an oil town in the western part of the state. It is very flat, so we could ride our bikes all over town with little effort. When I was twelve, we moved to Tulsa, OK where I went to Jr High, High School, and college. Even though I’ve lived in many other states, I feel at home in Oklahoma and call myself an Okie. My career has taken me to live in seven additional states, including North Carolina, where I raised my kids and invented the Spokester.
Q. What can you tell us about your product, as far as where the initial idea for Spokester stems from?
A. As a boy, we used clothespins to fasten playing cards to our bikes. I remember riding all over Midland pretending I was on a motorcycle. When my kids were growing up, I put playing cards on their bikes too. Soon I was doing this for the neighbor’s kids and I began to think of ways to do it better. I wanted a durable, one-piece noisemaker that sounded good, was simple to install, and was inexpensive. The current design meets all those criteria.
Q. Who did you have in mind when you designed it?
A. I focused on kids between the ages of 5 and 13. Of course, I target their parents and grandparents, who remember doing this when they were kids.
Q. I always love hearing about people turning their dreams and visions into realities. How long did it take you to actually get this idea into a kickstarter forum to gain momentum and funds to start production?
A. This is truly a family affair: I invented the product and got it into production. My son, Adam did all of the graphics (logos, packaging, literature, websites, etc.). Daughter Kate is in charge of our social media. We decided to do a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds for high volume production tooling about six months ago. We spent a lot of time researching successful crowdfunding techniques, and hopefully now we are ready.
Q. My boys have all tried various ways to get their bikes to sound like they have motors attached to them, as a kid, did you use any of the old school techniques to do this too?
A. Yes. I got the idea from putting playing cards on my bike as a young boy. I have an active imagination and I remember pretending that I was riding a motorcycle – sometimes I was a policeman!
Q. What are some of the ways you like to spend time outdoors with your friends or family?
A. We all love the outdoors. We’ve taken many camping/canoe trips as a family and also hike a lot. We’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, Appalachian Trail, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and others. Last week Adam and I spent two days hiking in Yosemite National Park, and we’re all going to Glacier National Park next month!
Q. Who do you hope buys your product? And how do you hope it impacts aspects of modern childhood?
A. I hope the parents and grandparents of young children buy the Spokester for their kids. I hope it teaches these youngsters how much fun creative, social play can be. I hope it encourages exercise and a healthy lifestyle in these kids.
If you'd like to help see this awesome little gadget make it's way into larger scale production you can check out their Kick Starter campaign currently happening HERE. And remember, word of mouth and reposting is free. And any decent dollar counts!