Award winning adventure technology company Aleck has been an outlier in today’s challenging market, going from strength to strength with their ever-expanding range of immersive action sports comms products. We caught up with Stephen Catterson to discuss distribution, manufacturing and how their technology has evolved since it first rocked the market back in 2018.
How has Aleck performed since our last interview?
2023 has been a banner year for Aleck and we’ve seen growth of 250% to top-line revenue. We’re very happy with this achievement especially given the challenging market conditions, where retailers and distributors are overstocked with hard goods. Despite these hurdles, our team has excelled, propelling our business to decent growth and we expect to continue this as we look ahead to 2024.
Can you give us an overview of the latest product range and any new arrivals?
Our current range includes ‘Nunchucks’ for snow helmet audio and comms, ‘Punks’ for bike helmet audio and comms, and the ‘Tocsen’ crash sensor. Excitingly, we’re introducing a new product for 2024, the ‘OG’, which is our first foray into the highly requested “off-grid” space meaning users will no longer need cell service to communicate with family and friends. It offers a communication range of over 35 miles, allows connectivity with an unlimited number of users, and integrates seamlessly with our existing products, the Nunchucks, Punks, and Tocsen crash sensor. This addition is set to revolutionize our ecosystem of audio, communications and safety products for both on-grid and off-grid applications.
Explain the difference between your Nunchucks and 006 snow helmet audio and comms.
The Nunchucks have undergone a comprehensive redesign, incorporating valuable feedback from our users. We’ve introduced a USB-C port, a long-awaited update! The device now has more ergonomic curves for a better fit in helmets. The button pads have been enlarged and separated into two distinct buttons for easier use. We’ve also significantly improved the EQ, making it the best-sounding product we’ve ever created for snow. Practical improvements include relocating the charging port to the back for easier access and an LED indicator on the backside for quick charging status checks. A major enhancement is the doubled battery life, now offering over 18 hours of continuous playback, translating to about a week’s use on the mountain without recharging.
What are the current best sellers in your product line-up?
At present, the Nunchucks are our top-selling product, aligning with the ongoing snow season. However, our bike product the ‘Punks’ saw a surge in demand following its Kickstarter launch in the spring of 2023. As we approach the bike season in 2024, we anticipate that the sales of ‘Punks’ will likely surpass that of our snow products.
How do you currently distribute the brand across Europe, and what’s the best-selling market for you right now?
In Europe, Aleck utilizes a mix of distributors and Amazon marketplaces for distribution. Germany is currently our most successful market, a direct benefit from the acquisition of Tocsen last year. Tocsen had an established presence in the German, Swiss, and Austrian markets, which significantly bolstered our position in these regions.
Why should retailers stock Aleck products?
Retailers should consider stocking Aleck products because we offer a comprehensive suite for audio communications and safety, catering to a wide range of outdoor activities like skiing, cycling, mountain biking, and with the entry of the ‘OG’, extended into more outdoor sports like hiking, kayaking, and climbing. Our products are designed for both on-grid and off-grid adventures, making them a versatile and essential offering for any outdoor sports retailer.
Where are Aleck products manufactured, and where are materials sourced from?
Aleck’s manufacturing base is in Asia, taking advantage of the well-established electronic supply chain there. We also source our materials from the region. While we are committed to finding more sustainable production methods and materials, we are conscious of the environmental impact of extensive shipping. For instance, sourcing recycled plastics from the U.S. (which is one of the only places I’m aware of that have recycled plastics with enough quality to meet production standards) and shipping them to Asia for manufacturing, then back to the U.S. for distribution, would counteract our sustainability goals. We are continually evaluating our processes to improve our environmental footprint.
How do you see the market for your technology developing over the next few years?
Looking ahead, we expect an increasing trend of technology being integrated directly into helmets off the production line, particularly for audio and communication systems. While this is an emerging market trend, at Aleck, we recognize that our customers have strong brand loyalty to their helmets, especially regarding fit and comfort. Therefore, we are focused on providing them with a range of high-quality, flexible audio and communication system options to enhance their experience without compromising on their preferred helmet brands.