Water sports have a huge market in the States as the coastal areas, and numerous lakes blessing the land’s geography make perfect water bodies for competitive sports. Kayaking, fishing, swimming, etc., are some of the many water sports that are mainly observed in the US on a competitive level. Even as the competition season passes, water sports fanatics don’t stop due to the enjoyment it brings.
Despite numerous threats associated with water sports, numerous people are witnessed without any protective gear that would save them from drowning. The reason isn’t the lack of such viable technology but the fact that wearing protective gear is highly uncomfortable for many water sports enthusiasts. As a result, these enthusiasts would rather risk their lives as there are seldom any fatal incidents.
Mike Fox and Pat Hughes, founders of The Wingman, may like to differ on this popular stance. The duo had once lost an athlete in a triathlon they were hosting. The tragedy scarred their memories, and they decided to design something slender and wearable yet had the potential to save lives.
The Wingman is a sturdy life jacket with a wearable material that’s breathable and not suffocating in terms of design. The jacket has a rip cord that causes the buoyant material to inflate upon pulling the cord. As a result, the risk of drowning decreased significantly, making the water sports player safe under any circumstance.
The life jacket also met the standards of US Coast Guards, giving the design endorsement from the real water daredevils. This endorsement made the duo bold enough to seek an appearance on Shark Tank. The Wingman needed help reaching every doorstep in the US by streamlining marketing and production.
The founders sought a sum of $200K in exchange for 12.5% equity in their company Hyde Sportswear which manufactured The Wingman. The passionate gentleman had started the production through a Kickstarter campaign raising $67K. The product had great profit margins proving it was a profitable business idea.
Mike and Pat started their pitch with their introduction, followed by the prevalent problem regarding life jackets. Then the duo introduced The Wingman and explained how it differed from other products available in the market. They also mentioned the features of the product and how it could potentially save a person’s life.
When sampling The Wingman, Sara Blakely, the guest shark, volunteered. However, that demonstration didn’t turn out well as they had difficulty getting Sara out of it. This incident made their sizing claims go straight to the trash.
All the sharks except Kevin refused to make an offer as none saw it as a profitable investment. Kevin was willing to invest in the business but wanted a 50% partnership. The founding duo refused to give away such a huge chunk of their company and declined the offer.
The Wingman left Shark Tank with no deal.
Our Review of The Wingman
Wingman has become a profitable business, gradually building its customer base. The business took its time rebranding, and the lack of a shark’s support made the process a bit extensive. Despite that, The Wingman is now generating a million in annual revenue.
The sleek and stylish design with numerous life-saving features makes The Wingman a design every water sports fanatic must own. While the business needs to speed up or make several changes to fix the design errors customers are complaining about, The Wingman is doing well. The company generates revenues from its e-commerce platform and has no brick-and-mortar stores.
Pros of The Wingman
Despite having a slower start, The Wingman has been able to score an incredible customer base. Here are some things customers love about the business:
- The sleek design of the life vest is better than the traditional puffy designs that can make individuals look bulky.
- The quality materials used in the manufacturing of the vests distinguish it from other competitors in the market.
- The patented zipper design ensures that the life jacket stays put and doesn’t come off easily under any circumstance.
- The easily accessible oral tube allows easy and efficient oral inflation or deflation in an emergency.
- Easy access to the ripcord on the life jacket’s chest can help in alarming situations.
- The buoyancy saves users from drowning.
- Users can easily strap camera mounts and other gadgets onto the life jacket for customers interested in recording their water sports performance.
- In several locations, the mesh layer helps keep the life jacket lightweight, allowing the water to pass by instead of trapping it or causing the weight to rise.
- The internal design distributes the weight evenly and imparts support to the user.
- The zip pocket on the rear side has an inculcated audio channel and enough space to store necessary small items such as keys, etc.
- The adjustable straps make the life vest a one-size-fits-all design, saving customers the hassle of finding the perfect size.
- The Wingman is unisex and available in different color options.
Cons of The Wingman
Despite having a customer base, some things haven’t worked in favor of The Wingman:
- The Wingman isn’t the most affordable life vest in the market, especially compared to the products offering similar quality for a lesser price point.
- The vest’s ripcord is extremely sensitive. As a result, customers have faced issues with the deflation of the vest, which can be a risky situation underwater and something that not many can be prepared for.
- Loose zips are another prevalent issue with The Wingman, as they can cause the jacket to come off underwater, risking customers’ lives.
Who Is The Wingman For?
The Wingman could be a perfect protective gear for all individuals who enjoy or are committed to water sports and activities that deal with great depths of water bodies. The lightweight inflatable life vests feel like armor against the depth and currents of natural and artificial water bodies. The sleek design of these vests works well to make life vests a wearable item while being cost-effective compared to major brands.
Are There Any Alternatives?
You may find numerous options online if you’re looking for cheap alternatives to The Wingman. However, Amazon’s most searched life vest is from Absolute Outdoor. The sleek design is lightweight on an individual’s body, making it easy to wear for day-long adventures. However, despite being lightweight and comforting, the Absolute Outdoor life vests can be beneficial for keeping an individual warm during watersports.
Our Final Thoughts
Despite having a slow start, The Wingman has managed to thrive under its parent company Hyde. The company has elevated the design of one of the most sought-after gear and accessories that are all the rage during summertime. While some of the strategies worked well to keep The Wingman afloat, the business might have to kick in gears for more action in making its name in the world of watersports.