Don’t let big bulky hydration packs hold you back in the backcountry or surf
Grab a Dolfin Pack to keep water close without weighing you down
To find out more behind how Dolfin Pack got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews Dolfin Pack founder, Mike Pimental.
More about the episode...
Josh sits down with Dolfin Pack founder Mike Pimental. When you’re out surfing a ways away from shoreline or in the backcountry hiking, skiing, or snowboarding you’re likely to need water though it might be hard to come by. Until now. Dolfin Pack is the solution that Mike Pimental and Cabe Nolan came up with for athletes who need water, are engaged in high movement active, and not willing to sacrifice range of motion or deal with extra weight. Dolfin Pack is the adventurers hydration pack, and this is their story.
Have an opinion? We want to hear it! Join the conversation and leave a comment, check out show notes, and get all the links mentioned in this episode below
- Check out Dolfin Pack’s website
- Check out Dolfin Pack’s awesome packs!
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Dolfin Pack is a multipurpose hydration pack correct?
“Most people have heard of Camelbak and they make an excellent product and they have for years. We’re not necessarily trying to compete with what they’re doing. We found a nitch in the market where there wasn’t really a hydration pack for really strenuous activities...it’s a form fitting pack, it’s built specifically to not move at all. You can wear it under a ski jacket, once it’s on you don’t even realize you're wearing it…”
How did you decide to start Dolfin Pack?
“The idea really came from one specific moment. About six years ago we were surfing in El Salvador… a lot of the waves are in really remote locations. So we needed something to bring water with us. And, the thing is a lot of these waves are not just right on the beach, you have to paddle pretty far out to get to them…”
How many different categories of sports would Dolfin Pack be perfect for?
A specific number? I don’t know if I have one. It’s really anything where you need to stay hydrated. Anything from paddle boarding, skiing, snowboarding. I’ve seen rock climbers use it. I’ve seen people who wakeboard wear it under their jacket. I know triathletes use it when they’re bike, running, and swimming…”
Have you ever been surprised by its uses?
Swimming was one of the big ones. I actually took one out after a customer had wrote to me about how they used it while swimming. I went and swam with it in the ocean and I thought ‘wow this thing really works you can actually swim and it doesn’t restrict your movement in the water’...”
Did you always know you would start a company some day?
“Yeah, I think I kind of did. My parents are both entrepreneurs and they’re both still owner and operator of their business to this day. They’ve instilled that self-reliant work ethic in my at a young age. I started out in elementary school selling lemonade and snickers bars on the corner of the stree. And, in highschool I had my own lawn maintenance company with a dozen different clients…”
What was the next step after you tested your idea with a successful run on kickstarter?
We basically took that feedback, made one last set of alterations to the design of the product. We had already vetted all of our manufacturing and all of our source so that was in line. We sent in the final sample which was approved… from there we used our additional funds to do one of the AST surf expo shows in Orlando and that was our first big event where we actually launched the product...that was what really opened our eyes…”
What was the growth like from 2014 to now?
“The growth has been really good. We’ve actually improved our numbers every single year and just completed our third complete year in sales. We’ve sold over 10,000 units…I think the real driving factor in the growth and success is there just was that need. This product didn’t exist before. People had to use bulky camelbak style hydration packs for their open ocean races…”
How did you come up with the pricing?
“That was one of the major factors, making this pack as minimalistic as possible. Once you start eliminating all those zippers and plastic fittings, extra seams, and pockets your price just drastically comes down...for what our product is supposed to be, you don’t need the extra pockets because you’re just taking water…”
Was making such a minimalistic product always the plan?
“Exactly, and with the success of the product that will continue to be our flagship pack but, to give a little hint, the next year and beyond we are in some new product development to add some things to the brand…”
What steps did you go through to make sure your production was sustainable as possible?
“Full disclosure our products are fully assembled here in the use but our materials are manufactured in Asia...we want to make products in the U.S. but, a lot of entrepreneurs especially starting out in production will find it’s very difficult to find a cost that you can afford to pay. Aside from that, once we started sourcing the factories overseas we vetted about two dozen manufacturers. We would check their background with factory certifications, labor standards…”
Did you have any mentors that helped you develop Dolfin Pack?
“Not specifically, I mean Cabe, my partner, is an incredibly intelligent dude. He’s been on the same entrepreneurial path that I have from a web development phase. He was actually a mentor of mine from the beginning...again my parents were both entrepreneurs...from a business background they’ve been a tremendous help…”
What does a normal day at Dolfin Pack look like?
“Cabe and I are full time and we work from our respective offices so, we're talking back and forth through text chat and email. We have orders from our website that come in everyday. I, myself am responsible for slapping a shipping label on them and getting them out...A few times a week we’ll have staff that comes in, get everything packaged and processed so that way when orders do come in we’re just sticking them in a box and shipping them out…”
I assumed you’re working in surf sessions and outdoor activities amongst all the work?
“Of course, you gotta have fun. You gotta work hard to play hard…”
What is the hardest part about building Dolfin Pack?
“As I mentioned before, sourcing. That was just such a hard thing to do at such a distance and to find someone you trust…”
What your greatest fear in regards to Dolfin Pack?
“I wouldn’t necessarily say fear but, definitely our biggest challenge is just keeping up with the evolving market that we’re in. We’re out there with one of the biggest competitors in the market, Camelbak. Just trying to get the little percentage from them that we are, that’s scary trying to keep up with that…”
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
“I would say rushing into production with our initial design after the first kickstarter. I think if we used a couple extra months of testing we would have figured out a few changes that we would have inevitably made…”
What kind of feedback were you getting from users about improvements you had to make?
“It was more in the material and the straps to be comfortable. Some users who wanted the pack extremely tight to their body would notice some chaffing and rubbing from the way the edge of the velcro met the elastic on the strap. That was something pretty simple that we should have seen to begin with…”
What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a business in the outdoor space?
“I would say just go for it. In all honesty it's really is as simple as taking that one chance. If you start small keep it local, find a partner you can count on which is the most important part, then you can start with a minimal risk…”
Where is Dolfin Pack headed into the future?
“Short term, we’re really going to focus on some new innovative products, catering to the needs of what our customers are telling us. Five year plan, we want to make Dolfin Pack a known brand product that has a great established reputation in the market. We want to release some in depth marketing campaigns that focus on some environmental issues...long term goal we’re just hoping to become a beacon in the outdoor community…”
What’s the best part about running Dolfin Pack?
“The best part is just hearing from the customers that love the product. There’s no better feeling that someone enjoys something that you created. You wake up in the morning and you got an email from someone that gave their boyfriend a gift for christmas and he absolutely loved it and freaked out and now she's getting one…”