As Will Warne owner of KidRunner shares, the US market for kid joggers tops $400 million a year.
While KidRunner is up against established brands, it has an advantage it can exploit as it gears up to go to market – KidRunner’s performance if far superior for people looking to run and explore with their children. It helps that KidRunner partner elite runner Max King won the Bend BigFoot 10K with his daughter in tow, and may have set a world record in the process.
Let’s have Warne shed light on KidRunner, the design and plans for the company.
Q: What was the big idea or experience that led you to found your company/product?
A: Like a lot of inventions, we innovated KidRunner from our own experience as parent runners. Before the birth of our first daughter, my wife and I were running on average 20 miles per week. When we tried to resume running six months later, we found ourselves pushing a heavy, awkward kid jogger and hating it! Like many other parent runners, we were getting upper body injuries from leaning over and pushing the stroller. Our average run distance was cut in half and we stopped running together so we didn’t have to negotiate the “stroller trade off” between us.
It became shockingly obvious that the kid stroller/jogger had not been fundamentally innovated since the Victorian Era and definitely not for a high performance sport like running! I drew some sketches, bought supplies at a local hardware stores and took parts from other strollers. When my wife, a pediatrician, left for work, I strapped our then six-month old daughter into our first KidRunner prototype and started running. It worked! KidRunner was born and the process of reinventing running and exploring began.
Q: Did you design the product or who did you work with?
A: We assembled a fantastic team of experienced business, intellectual property, engineering, elite athlete and industrial design/fabrication talent. Our core partnership has driven the design, R&D and testing with excellent collaboration from stakeholders across multiple disciplines including many in Central Oregon and Bend specifically including high tech material suppliers, seamstresses, videographers, etc.
Beautiful, high performance design is a central component of KidRunner. It is 35 percent lighter than a traditional kid jogger, can access multiple terrains like dirt, sand, roads, etc., and it will fit in a back pack instead of the entire trunk of a car!
Q: What obstacles did you have to overcome in the design?
A: So many! We have two patents and a third pending. Our patents articulate how we solved several challenging technical opportunities. Running creates a very dynamic motion and running with a child needs to be smooth, safe and versatile. It needs to be lightweight and accommodate a broad spectrum of child sizes and weights. We wanted the solution to be beautiful and elegant while enabling all kinds of runners from elite to everyday parents to love running and exploring with their kids.
Our two major breakthroughs after over two years of design and testing were the KidRunner components that dampen the motion of running from the child’s seat while preserving enough stability to ensure safety.
Q: What success have you had to date?
A: With the recent introduction of our Version 4 prototype which is 90 percent go to market ready, we are quickly racking up exciting design and performance milestones. One of our partners, elite runner Max King recently beat a field of 200 runners in the Bend-based BigFoot 10K with his two year old daughter Haze. His win is contending a world’s record for the fastest 10K ever run with a child. Max averaged 5:22 min/mile https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbG3-s6gMdU.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face?
A: Our biggest challenge and most exciting opportunity is that we are disrupting a $400 million kid jogger market in the US. KidRunner is a complete reinvention and improvement running and exploring with kids. We’ve completely transformed the solution to reflect the needs of real runners and their kids instead of just adding bright colors and cup holders to existing kid jogger products. The more we run and win with KidRunner, the bigger and faster the community of interested running parents is becoming.
Of course we also face a financing challenge and we hope that BVC will be part of that solution. We have in house design, fabrication and business expertise but need Phase I funding to take the first wave of KidRunners to the 400,000 parents each year who buy a new kid jogger in the United States only to find themselves disappointed, injured and not running very much.
Q: If you win at BVC how will you use the $10,000 Concept Stage prize from BendBroadband?
A: The $10K will go directly and immediately to the following three areas:
- We will close the remaining 10% R&D gap on harness design and chassis material selection including possible local sourcing of carbon fiber suppliers, etc.
- We will conclude our performance / bio metric testing demonstrating how much more efficient and less injury prone KidRunner is vs. traditional strollers
- We will continue positioning for go to market financing
Check out their web site, www.KidRunners.com, and enjoy the recently posted video of Max King’s possible world record breaking 10K with his daughter, Hazel.