Don Montague

Coleman talked to Don Montague this week and learned some interesting things…

Don is on of the grandfathers of kiting, he helped design the software most people use, set up the factories in China that make all the kites and knows everybody. Basically he knows more than anyone else we have talked to so far about the industry.

First some interesting #’s and insights:

  • Approximately 100,000 kites are sold per year, no single company sells more than 20,000 a year.
  • Most big companies i.e. Slingshot, Naish, etc sell about 10,000 units
  • North does 20,000 but they only sell half at MSRP and then dump the other half for really cheap at the end of the year which screws up prices.
  • Best Kites’s (a kite company) direct sales approach has also screwed up prices.
  • Even the big companies aren’t making much money though, he doesn’t think there are any kite designers making more than $100k and that most are making about $50k (also most companies only have one designer, not a whole team or anything).
  • Not only that but its very risky (lots of recalls, lawsuits, etc).
  • Materials costs have tripled in the last 10 years so the margin isn’t as good as it used to be.

Basically the take home point about the market is that it is totally saturated, way more people making kites then are buying them. He said that even if our prototype is perfect its simply not a strong enough platform to battle the competitors. We might be able to get a toehold with some specific segment or local area but that it would be a struggle to compete on a national scale.

He suggested that we patent and then try and license it out (he was willing to help out in making those connections). This news may sound largely discouraging for the business, but Don has not actually seen our product yet (we are setting up a meeting to have his try out our kite) and it’s important to remember that this is still just one person’s opinion. We’ll discuss this more with the class and teaching team during our final presentation!

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