Considering how frequently I travel with my kids, I’m always looking for gadgets and gizmos that can make the experience easier and more efficient. That’s one of the reasons I love a new product from an inventor named Craig Rabin. He calls the product The Airhook. And though he designed it to help business travelers, I see a ton of family travel implications as well. I recently caught up with Rabin over email to chat about his new product. Here is an edited transcript of our chat.
MJV: What prompted the invention of The Airhook? What challenge were you trying to solve? What was your frustration?
Craig Rabin (CR): I was flying from Seattle to San Francisco and was wearing a sport coat. After boarding the plane, I asked the flight attendant if there was space to hang my coat. There was not. That left me with two options: Store it overhead (and have a horribly wrinkled coat) or wear it on the flight (and be horribly overheated). After choosing to wear it on the flight and noticing the sweat start to run, I sat there staring at the tray table in front of me. How handy would it be if there was a clip or hook that could better utilize the tray table to hang up my coat? An invention was born.
MJV: For whom do you see this tool working best? Biz travelers? Leisure travelers?
CR: Our Design & Testing team has flown with The Airhook on many flights which span tens of thousands of air miles during the course of product development. On every trip we have met interested consumers that were all flying for various reasons. Some were road warriors, others were parents with families and some were big and tall and unable to utilize the tray table. But everyone seemed to want greater convenience now. The common comment was something like, ‘The Airhook is great timing because as airlines are making seats closer and closer together, the tray table remains the same size.’
MJV: You mentioned family travelers. What specific benefits does The Airhook deliver for them?
CR: Families come in all different ages and sizes. Someone in a family headed to Las Vegas to celebrate a child’s 21st birthday will use The Airhook to hold a cocktail while practicing blackjack on the iPad. The family with young children will use The Airhook as hands-free entertainment to keep the little ones entertained while the grownups enjoy easy access to anything in a carry-on bag. One of the most interesting parts of testing and showing The Airhook simply has been telling folks about the concept. Everyone seems to have a different key benefit in mind, since everyone has their own travel quirks.
MJV: Are there any ways for moms and dads to use The Airhook to solve another problem/need associated w/family travel? If so, what are some of them?
CR: I have no children just yet, so I figured I would consult a higher authority and asked my mother what I was like as a child on an airplane. She said, ‘You never sat still and had to go to the bathroom every half hour!’ So for the child in me, The Airhook would have allowed me to have hands-free entertainment while still bouncing around in my seat. The tray table constricted me and I guess my kicking spilled a few drinks! The Airhook would also have allowed me (and the entire row most of the time) to freely stand and move out of the row when I asked to go to the bathroom for the fifth time.
MJV: How does Kickstarter play into your story?
CR: Kickstarter for us was more about marketing then crowd funding. We had already raised a friends-and-family round of funding that secured product development to date and allowed us to obtain global patent protection on the Intellectual Property. We wanted to utilize Kickstarter for its viral abilities in order to get market validation and approval. The team decided to set our fundraising goal based on the minimum number of people we needed to reach (funding goal/lowest donation amount) vs. how much we hoped to raise. Once the Kickstarter community gave us their stamp of approval (they funded our dream in 73 hours), Kickstarter became a landing page for PR inquiries in order to further get the word out. Media outlets were reaching out to us saying, ‘We just saw your Kickstarter page.’ That further accelerated our growth.
MJV: When/where can people buy the product, and how soon will it be available?
CR: Right now we are taking orders on our website. It’s $24.95 per unit with discounts as quantity increases. We plan to ship product the first week of December as we are dedicated to getting The Airhook in customers’ hands by the busiest travel time of the year: THE HOLIDAYS! That means The Airhook is a perfect gift for the family travelers among all of us.