Rapid Inflation Technology – Wind Catcher

wind catcherRyan Frayne had relatively modest goals when he ran a Kickstarter campaign to get his Wind Catcher “Air Pads” produced. He was looking for $50,000 and raised nearly three times that amount. The Air Pad, an air mattress, uses what Frayne calls “rapid inflation technology,” which is fancy talk for the large, bag-like inflation “valve” the air pads use to inflate in seconds with no power. Frayne did a second Kickstarter for his Air Pack, a backpack that inflates to double as a pillow, seat pad, foot rest, and more. The Air Pack raised $50,000 of a $30,000 goal.

Raising $180K for pre-ordering his Wind Catcher wares is no small feat, but Frayne has bigger ideas than just selling air mattresses. He envisions the world-wide, patent pending technology applied to many inflatable and life saving devices. Imagine a Wind Catcher valve on inflatable boats, life jackets, buoys and more. Regardless of future applications, the camping crowd loves Wind Catcher. Ask anyone who's inflated an air mattress on lung power and they'll tell you Wind Catcher air pads are a “must have item.”

While Frayne may be content to sell air mattresses and similar items for the time being, he has aspirations on using his technology for many other purposes, and that is likely the future for his company. He's likely in the Tank for strategic purposes as much as he is for cash.

My Take on the Wind Catcher

When I was in my early twenties, a friend and I went on a sailing trip to Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard. Our boat was moored in the harbor and we needed to take a launch to shore. Unfortunately, the launch service stopped at 10:30 and the bar didn't close until 1 AM. Being in our early twenties, we didn't want our nigh to end at 10:30, so we brought our inflatable raft in with us on the launch. We stashed it under a dock and went about the evening's revelry. After the bar closed, my friend and I, both slightly inebriated, retrieved the inflatable raft and realized we forgot the pump on the boat.

Picture two drunk twenty-somethings taking turns blowing up a ten foot inflatable boat in the wee hours of the morning. We attracted our fair share of attention, including the local police who just kind of smiled and shook their heads when we explained our plight. After about an hour of blowing and very little progress, someone came out of a motel near the docks and offered their pump if we'd take them across the harbor to Chappaquidick. With their pump, it still took us close to another hour to blow the boat up. Thankfully, they were so happy to get a ride at that hour (they were going to an after hours party) that they shared their bottle of vodka with us – making for a very raucous inflation party.

My friend and I took the two guys and a girl across the harbor to Chappaquidick and rowed back to the dock to hang out and party with some other people we met while sitting there blowing up our raft. We ended up paddling back to our boat as the sun was rising. All in all, it was a fun night, but a Wind Catcher would have made it a lot easier!

I think this is a great idea and I am 100% IN.

Will Sharks Pump Up a Deal?

Frayne's value as a company is in his technology. He could make serious money licensing the Wind Catcher to a slew of different companies from air mattress makers to boat makers and many more. Sales and proof of concept will get the Sharks interested, but the bigger picture licensing opportunity will get them to bite.

I see any one of the Sharks on the panel making a bid for Frayne's business. Robert tends to like outdoorsy stuff and can do international licensing deals. Lori could go the product route and sell a ton of air pads and air packs on QVC and through other channels. Mr. Wonderful will tout his licensing expertise. Chris Sacca can do just about anything, and Mark Cuban might see Wind Catcher as a complement to some of his other businesses like LuminAid, Power Practical, and others.

Which Shark bites on Wind Catcher? I'm fairly confident he'll get a deal. I'm going out on a limb and saying it's with one of the five!

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

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