Inventor of the Week Archive
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Extreme sports enthusiasts have inventor Jamie Page to thank for the creation
of Crosskate, a brand new type of cross-country and downhill all-terrain
skates that allow an adventurous athlete to "ski" on hard-packed dirt trails
and rocky roads.
Young Page often found himself thinking up ideas for cool, new products that
did not exist. Thus, he decided he would attempt to make a career out of turning
those ideas into reality. The 1989 Belchertown, MA High School graduate earned
engineering degrees at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology and Stanford University.
Then, in 1995, he started Underground
Design, a Silicon Valley-based product-development firm, which he ran from
1995 to 1998. There, Page and his team focused on designing medical devices,
toys, and sporting goods.
An avid sportsman, Page had always enjoyed hiking, biking and cross-country
skiing. He loved California's rolling, hard-packed dirt trails, and imagined
how wonderful it would be if he could find a way to go cross-country skiing
on them. Of course, in California, a lack of snow in most parts of the state
meant he would have to get creative.
That's when Page conceived his idea for the crosskate, in 1997. Page started
developing his concept at Underground Design, but soon he moved back east to
work full time building a business based on his invention. The move put him
back in touch with his MIT contacts in the engineering and venture capital communities,
and in 1999 he got his first big break when his business plan for Crosskate,
LLC took second place in MIT's annual $50K Entrepreneurship
Competition. The award carried a $10,000 prize and networking opportunities.
Through the $50K competition Page met Mark Batho, who had just finished an
engineering degree at MIT. Batho became Page's first full-time employee, doing
product testing and business development. Since then, the Florence, MA-based
Crosskate team has grown to seven members. The team includes a former
Boeing engineer, an investor who used to own
a sporting-goods firm, a designer who graduated from Hampshire
College, Page's younger brother Matt, who also studied mechanical engineering
at MIT, and a former Sales and Marketing Director from Salomon Smith Barney.
In addition, Crosskate employs three Sales Representatives.
Page and his team set to work to design a skate that features two 10-inch,
air-filled mountain-bike-style tires connected by an aircraft-grade frame made
of welded aluminum. The front tire pivots when the wearer leans his/her body,
making the steering and turning process much like it is in downhill snow skiing.
The skate only rolls forward too, so that climbing uphill is possible without
sliding backward. Boots are attached to the skates but lift at the heel for
climbing ease, much like the boots worn in cross-country skiing. And disc brakes
on both rear tires ensure stopping power. A low center of gravity and the extra-long
length of each skate increases stability. Crosskate has several US and
foreign patents pending.
With the research and development phase having been completed, the Crosskate
team was ready to move into the production arena. In the summer of 2000, a limited
edition of the Crosskate 616 BackCountry skate was released, which
was met with what Page has referred to as "overwhelming demand." Currently,
mass production is taking place in Italy and Taiwan, with the first production
skates arriving on July 1, 2001. Crosskate already has commitments with
a number of ski resorts that will be renting the skates for use on their mountains
this summer, as well as retail stores that are placing advanced orders. In addition
to this success, Page is raising funds to finance his company, with the goal
of turning Crosskate into a $50 million industry over five years.
Page has high hopes that Crosskate will succeed in the long run because major
segments of the multi-billion-dollar outdoor-sports industry have become saturated,
creating an opportunity for new products to take hold. Though the Rollerblade
company has produced a $400 model called the Coyote, Page said sales were weak
because Rollerblade's version had poor brakes, too-small wheels and a high center
of gravity, which causes instability.
A pair of Crosskate skates retail at $695.00; this cost includes both
skis and boots. However, Page says once the company starts making the skates
in bulk -- more than 100,000 pairs a year -- the price of the skates should
plummet to about $300. "We think that with these we can do for inline skating
what mountain biking did for cycling," Page said.
For more information on Crosskate, visit the company's Web