The running industry may have embraced technology whole-heartedly, but we still can’t break up with safety pins
Even chip and RFID timed races are still typically using paper bibs, with pins the most common method of fastening. Heck, the sport of running may just be keeping the safety pin industry kicking. Running USA vendor member BibBoards has a design to change that. A snap fastener with a patent pending, they allow runners to attached bibs to shirts or shorts without rips, tears or safety pins.
“They’re going to change the way people run!” says co-founder and CEO Brian Goodell.
Goodell and his co-founder Rob Greenspoon also have innovative ideas about the real estate of the average race bib and how to use it to address sponsorship challenges.
Here’s how the concept works:
“The race sells the exclusive right to the BibBoards real estate, the brand company pays the event’s sponsorship fee, the brand company then buys the BibBoards with its customized logo, and the event places BibBoards into the registration bag instead of safety pins. Everybody wins,” Goodell said. So far, runner feedback has been excellent.
“The consumer feedback is so positive and they ask us if the races will logo the BibBoards so they can collect them all,” Goodell said.
Read on to learn more about the BibBoards concept and applications for the industry.
RUSA: No safety pins? Sounds too good to be true. What does BibBoards do and how does it work?
BG: BibBoards are really lightweight patent-pending snaps. They are two pieces that snap together on the four corners of a racing bib to gently squeeze the bib onto the garment. It’s really simple and easy to use. And best of all, they don’t make holes in your expensive shirt. There are no magnets so also won’t don’t get that feeling of loose change bouncing up and down. And they don’t crash together unexpectedly like magnets can. They’re also much more affordable.
RUSA: The idea of a race bib as advertising space is interesting. How do you feel races can better capitalize on that and what is the connection to the BibBoards approach?
BG: We have two options for the races to generate revenue and we know that the number one challenge facing event directors is getting sponsorships. We solve that problem. BibBoards creates out of nothing valuable virgin real estate that brand companies need. One racer wearing BibBoards puts a company’s logo front and center four times.
This attracts real-world impressions from not just the racer, but the racer’s family and friends, and from all the folks watching the race from the sidelines or on television. And they’re reusable. We all know that racers love to keep event memorabilia.
Since consumers love the product and hate safety pins, brand companies get a lot of good will by being the ones to take unsafe safety pins off the streets.
RUSA: Who came up with this and what was the process of creating this company like?
BG: Our co-founder Rob Greenspoon is an avid marathoner. Like everyone else, he hates safety pins. At races in 2009, while training for the Chicago marathon, he saw runners in the start corrals at the last minute stabbing themselves with safety pins just to get their bib on. The idea came to him that there must be a better way. That’s when he called me - I am a former collegiate athlete and successful inventor. My background is launching ideas and inventions. The idea came to us as BibBoards by realizing it could solve two problems at once – dangerous safety pins, and better ad impressions for brand companies. It didn’t hurt that he’s also a patent attorney, so in 2009 he filed for a patent on his invention. There is one patent already issued, and applications for more pending.
RUSA: What races are using BibBoards now and what has the reaction been from clients and athletes?
BG: We’ve been careful to do test launches to gather the best analytics and data. We picked Bay to Breakers, the Oakland Running Festival, and the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.
One of the races said: “Doesn’t shock me on the feedback, and your product resonated extremely well on
Our Virtual Event Bag. Of the 35 placements we had, yours had the 3rd highest number
of views (984 views), and 246 conversions (resulting in a conversion rate of 28.5%).”
The response has been incredible and really gratifying. At the expos we had a constant line at our booth. And runners have literally walked up to us after the races and thanked us for replacing the safety pin. Every other person has a story of how they don’t like safety pins and the other person says “you should go on Shark Tank.”
RUSA: What's the price point?
BG: We currently sell on-line at $8 for a pack of 4. We have a Family pack as well which retails at $19 and you save $7. For race directors and brands depending on volume around $1.75. Most races are having the runners pay $7-$10 when they register for the BibBoards.
RUSA: Do you also create bibs or just produce and sell the fasteners?
BG: Right now we’re focusing on our core strength, which is replacing safety pins. We’d like to partner with bib companies who can offer a bundle sponsor pack. We think that would be a great fit.