Investors say this cabana is cool
CROWD-FUNDING - asking strangers to part with their hard-earned to fund a new, untested product - is a hit-and-miss leap of faith.
You either crash and burn and return to square one, or you manage to scrape together enough capital to keep the ball rolling.
So when 100 people on Kickstarter decided to back Mark Fraser's Cool-Cabana to the tune of $11,470, well above his $4450 goal - he knew he was onto something.
Cool-Cabanas managed to attract 124% of its initial backing within four days, and pledges came from places like the USA, France and Germany. All up, Cool-Cabanas got 260% of its funding committed.
Of course, Mr Fraser, an architect, had an inkling the product was popular given the amount of people who came up to him on the beach when he was testing it, asking where they could get one.
The Brisbane man was on holiday in Noosa when he devised the concept for the Cool-Cabana.
"I started sketching in the sand at Little Cove one day.
"I set myself the brief of wind and shade requirements, usability and ease of carrying it and setting it up.
"I came up with some concepts and got motivated in August last year when I saw some stats from the Cancer Council that 66% of all 70-year-old Aussies have skin cancer. I made some prototypes and tested them, and every time, we'd have five or six people ask us where they could buy it."
Mr Fraser was confident in the product, but wanted to include another sweetener to entice buy-in from the Kickstarter crowd.
"I thought about how I could motivate people to come on board, so for every 10 pledged, I am giving one back to a surf lifesaving club.
"Already, people have nominated Noosa, Mooloolaba, Peregian, Sunshine Beach, Rainbow Beach. And I'd love to get them made up in red and yellow."
Mr Fraser sold 150 through Kickstarter and is busy with deliveries right now.
The $99 structures are a bit bigger than a beach umbrella. They have an aluminium frame with a polyester fabric rated at UV50. Mr Fraser may tweak it to have a plastic tubing frame and cotton fabric in future.
They come in three colours and are made in Asia. They sit like a four-poster canopy, weighed down by sand (or pegs into grass), meaning they won't blow away if it's windy.
AN IDEAS MAN
Mark Fraser has another invention in use all over the world: a shopping trolley made out of recycled plastic.
He has sent 14 containers of his Markit Cart to Russia and has some interest from IGA locally.
The trolleys have no wobbly wheels, do not damage cars if they bump into them, are half the weight of metal trolleys and are ergonomically designed.
Mr Fraser is also designing an "interesting baby stroller" and is in discussion with Walmart on the design of a supermarket suitable for high-rise apartment living in densely populated cities.
"It's pretty radical," he said. "The international head of construction for Walmart said it was incredibly innovative."
It will be trialled in Brazil and China.