What product did you submit to Walmart’s Get on the Shelf contest?
Where’d the idea come from?
During Christmas 2009 my son, daughter-in-law, and one-and-a-half year-old grandson visited us in New Hampshire. I wanted to take my little grandson tobogganing. I didn’t own one at the time, so borrowed a two person plastic toboggan from my neighbors.
I had not been on a toboggan for sixty years or so, a fact that normally would not faze me in the least. But, I guess I forgot how little control one has on your average toboggan. We have eleven acres; mostly wooded and quite steep, with an occasional stone wall, and other fun obstacles. Needless to say, the tobogganing didn’t work out very well. (For those following along, my little grandson survived unscathed, and my daughter-in-law is still speaking to me.) I vowed to make a proper toboggan run for the following year.
I cut a nice, curvy 2000-foot long path through the woods on our property. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much snow in 2010, until Christmas again – just before the kids arrived. I didn’t have any time to test my run, and we soon discovered that we still had some serious problems keeping a plastic toboggan from careening out of the chute on anything more that the slightest turn. It was another disappointing Christmas for tobogganing.
After the kids left, I continued to experiment with different types of toboggans and saucers, but as the snow became more packed, the run only got faster and more dangerous, I came close, once or twice, to doing some real damage to myself. I had nearly given up. Then, entirely by accident, I found an old surfboard while cleaning out the storage area – and instantly had an idea.
First, I cut off the front third of the surfboard. Then I fashioned three steel runners from construction strapping material to the bottom. Then on the top side I attached two handles from sheet-rock trowels. It worked fantastically, and I called it a Sleboggan.
I was able to control the plastic toboggan with ease- even on the fastest, curviest run I now call a Sleboggan Run. And had no problem traveling the entire 2000 feet down the hill. It is an awesome new winter sport, Slebogganing. At the same time Slebogganing is also a lot of fun for the whole family. I have hooked four toboggans together and lying down on the first one and using a Sleboggan I have taken eight people tearing down my Sleboggan Run at once – incredibly fast and fun and totally in control.
What’s your background?
I am a retire associate professor from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). I hold an ATP Certificate and have been a certificated flight instructor (CFI) for over 42 years. Viet Nam Vet and graduated from GE Apprenticeship program as Machinist Tool Maker in 1964.
What difficulties did you have creating the product?
Once I had the prototype Sleboggan it was easy to design and construct the current Link 1 Limited Signature Edition. Named after my grandson Lincoln who was the reason I invented the Sleboggan.
Have you sold any?
I have sold a few via word of mouth, at www.sleboggan.com, and the Sleboggan can be purchased at Clark’s Ace Hardware in New London, NH
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
It is not a sin to fail only a sin if you don’t try.
A video of the Sleboggan can be seen below.
Sleboggan’s Get on the Shelf link is www.getontheshelf.com/product/211/Sleboggan.