Spielwarenmesse: Interview Razor: how passion for the product influences its success

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Movers & shakers

Interview Razor: how passion for the product influences its success

from Ulrich Texter

The Californian outdoor specialist Razor is one of the market leaders in child vehicles. Two years ago, the company presented the “Crazy Cart” on the toy fair Spielwarenmesse® in Nuremberg; the car got the “Outdoor Toy of the Year Award”. This year they presented the new “RipSurf”. We spoke with Ali Kermani, the creative figure behind the products.

Spielwarenmesse®: Mr. Kermani, after hearing your name we immediately thought of the german-iranian author and orientalist Navid Kermani who got the internationally prestigious Peace Price of the German Book Trade. Had you been honored as well or are you satisfied with the economic success?

Ali Kermani: While the Crazy Cart has enjoyed both commercial success and received numerous honors and awards (including being named 2014’s Outdoor Toy of the Year), the greatest satisfaction for me personally has come with the smiles and joy I have seen on the faces of countless Crazy Cart drivers over the past few years.

The whole reason I committed nearly 10 years of my life to bringing the Crazy Cart to market was that I truly love the product and wanted to share the amazing feeling of driving a Crazy Cart with people around the world.  Now that product is making its way to people all around the world, I get to see kids and adults of all ages sharing in the fun that caught my attention all those years ago! Their enjoyment is by far the most fulfilling dividend of all my efforts.

Do you have to be a little bit “crazy” as a product developer to get ideas like “Crazy Cart” or “RipSurf”?

A.K.: While many have characterized the passion it takes to believe in yourself when no one else does as ‘craziness’, I believe ‘confidence’ is a more fitting term. I am not the only person, who has had ideas or recognized opportunities as particularly promising, but I am among the minority of people who didn’t let all the nay-sayers and skeptics stop me from pursuing my goals. 

As I try to explain to anyone who asks me how I was able to make my dreams of bringing these items to market come true, people are always going to tell you ‘no’, ‘it will never happen’, or ‘it’s too hard’. The key is to recognize these forms of negative feedback for what they really are: Trail markers on the path to success! In other words, when someone says ‘no’, I ask them ‘why not?’, and try to use their feedback as guidance toward a better product and/or presentation. 

Apparently you spend big parts of your life on wheels. What happened in your childhood that you didn’t get away from skating? 

A.K.: What happened was that I fell in love with the excitement and fun of playing outdoors! The first sport I became passionate about was surfing, but the distance from my house to the beach meant that I was only able to surf once or twice a week, which was definitely not enough. Living closer to the mountains, I began filling my winter weekends with snowboarding and weekdays with skateboarding.

As skateboarding became more popular, skateparks began being built closer and closer to my house and that newfound accessibility sealed the deal for me. My life began to revolve around the skatepark, which is where I spent all my free time, established my closest friendships, and is even where I met Carlton Calvin, the founder of Razor and began my career in the toy industry!

The design of the “RipSurf” is modeled on a surfboard what is unusual enough. Did you have the Beach Boys (Surfin’ USA) or the Mamas and Papas (California Dreaming) in mind and a Californian feeling?

A.K.: The main thing I had in mind when the idea of the RipSurf first came up was delivering the fun and exciting feeling of surfing to the land-locked masses. Having ridden RipStik casterboards for nearly 10 years now, my friends and I had always noticed how much fun they were to ride and how surf-like the feeling of riding a casterboard was to riding a surfboard.

Since I often imagined myself carving a wave when riding a casterboard through the bowl at my local skatepark, I thought: why not make a new type of casterboard that both looked and performed more like a real surfboard? It was this thought that sparked the RipSurf project. With this goal of delivering an authentic surf experience on land as our guide, we started designing the RipSurf from the ground up, both aesthetically and functionally.

The result of this year-long design process is one of the most exciting new wheeled boards to hit the market in recent history, the RipSurf! I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it has been to watch surfer after surfer fall in love with the RipSurf and remark about how much it actually echoes the motions, feelings, and fun of riding a real surfboard!

Electro mobility is highly topical, in Germany as well. Razor presented another electro scooter in Nuremberg, the Power Core E90. Do mobility fans really need this additional power? Where are the advantages?

A.K.: To answer your first question, YES! Mobility fans always need additional power! And more specifically, additional torque (which translates into how quickly a vehicle gets up to speed) is an extremely rewarding feeling. This is the main advantage of the PowerCore E90 over traditional motorized scooters. Because the PowerCore uses Razor’s new hub-motor technology, it does not suffer from the reduction in torque associated with traditional chain/belt driven power trains.

The 1:1 gearing ratio of the hub motor is felt as soon as the motor kicks in, in the form a jolt of power!  Everyone who tests the new PowerCore E90 remarks about how powerful it feels and this is a direct result of the torque provided by the PowerCore’s hub-motor.

The “Crazy Cart” got a breakthrough due to viral marketing. How important is the “social web” these days in the USA? Is it challenging the pole position of classic marketing?

A.K.: The internet, and social media in particular, present one of the largest opportunities for a new item to gain notoriety quickly, but this is not to say that they make it easy. Unlike traditional forms of media, in which the content is curated for the viewer, the internet and social media put the power of choice in the hands of the individual viewers, and so the bar for successful marketing in these new forums is in many ways more of a meritocracy than ever before. 

In other words, to effectively turn online marketing efforts into sales, I believe you need both compelling product and an interesting message. This was the key to our success marketing the Crazy Cart via social media: the Crazy Cart is a truly amazing product and we were able to drive awareness of that product by making funny and exciting videos that appealed enough to viewers that they shared them with their social networks. I would say that viral marketing much more of a complement to classic marketing than it is a challenge.

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Author of this article:

Ulrich Texter

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