Sports stars support Saxx

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By David Scott
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Trent Kitsch, left, goes over the finer points of Saxx men's performance underwear with Ivey Dean Carol Stephenson. 
Trent Kitsch, left, goes over the finer points of Saxx men's performance underwear with Ivey Dean Carol Stephenson.  
 
Trent Kitsch, MBA'07, is capitalizing on the fact that no one has bothered to redesign men's underwear in decades, maybe even centuries.

And he's found a market for his design that comfortably supports (and separates) men's distinctive space requirements from colliding with legs, especially during sports.
Saxx, a new men's performance underwear with a patented design, is “the evolution of men's underwear," according to Kitsch's cheeky (pun intended) marketing. What makes Saxx so much different than traditional underwear is the function served by the patented “Saxx Performance Side Panels." Saxx also uses the benefits of moisture wicking and breathable performance fabrics to improve temperature and keep wearers dry.

But does he think there's a market out there for high-end (no pun intended) men's underwear?

“Yes, because of the evidence in sales so far. And in the (early) stages of the business the positive indicators we've had with repeat customers and people writing letters and e-mails telling us how much they appreciate or like the pairs," says Kitsch, a former professional baseball player and recent MBA grad who came up with the idea for the new underwear design while fishing with his father. “I was wearing a large inflatable suit and my testicles were stuck to my legs. So I had a few days out on the ocean thinking about how I could re-design men's underwear to prevent contact and be more comfortable."

Kitsch then returned for his final semester at Ivey with a new mission, “to make the best performing men's underwear in the world." He created a prototype, found a manufacturer and developed a brand, as well as put $18,000 of his own money behind it. “I treated the idea as much more, right out of the gates," he says.

The driving factor throughout the development of Saxx has been quality, with Kitsch adding “We have worked with professional designers, fabric consultants, and professional athletes. I feel if you make a quality product, the only by-product can be success, so I enjoy the hard work we have put into prototypes and development."

Saxx underwearKitsch has been actively promoting his product by unusual methods - sending his new underwear directly to professional athletes. “I sent pairs to some players during Spring Training last year and worked with them in design. Over the season they asked for more pairs, and by the end Saxx was being worn in the World Series."

The gamble paid off with Jeff Francis, a Colorado Rockies pitcher, signing a two-year endorsement deal with Saxx Apparel. “I know other players who are wearing it in Major League Baseball and the NHL," says Francis. And Kitsch has recently sent pairs of his product for NBA players to literally try on for size.

He makes no secret that a possible strategy is to sell the business eventually to a sportswear producer like Nike or Under Armour. “That's one of the exit strategies. There is the 'going concern strategy' and the 'license or sell the company' to an established brand with global distribution. This kind of product in the hands of Nike would sell a lot of units next year," speculates Kitsch.

What would spell success for Saxx right now? “In the going concern strategy, it would be some critical tipping point of us getting over sales of 4,000 pairs a month. And if it's the licensing/sell exit, that could really happen at any time with a critical mass of professional athletes wearing them. That's starting to happen now. That's a more likely exit."

Presently, the product is available online at www.saxxperformance.com and as recently as mid-February at 25 Source For Sports stores across Canada. A meeting was also held with the Hudson's Bay Company March 12 - “Which is going to be big for us if we can get in there." (The results of that meeting were not known at the time of publishing). “Our goal is to be in 55 stores at the end of the year," says Kitsch.

The company is still actively looking for investors - and was the subject of a Globe and Mail feature business story in January that revealed Kitsch recently secured an investment of $50,000 (in exchange for 5 per cent of the business) and is seeking $150,000 to $500,000 in exchange for 15 per cent to 50 per cent of the business. He also managed to secure some investment money after a successful appearance on CBC's business pitch show “Dragon's Den."

“We've had a lot of people offer us investment - but if there is someone with smart money, who has a relationship or experience in the industry, if they want to help us out in any way, we'd appreciate it, too. I've got a lot of e-mails already from Western alumni who are in the industry and willing to help. If that continues, that's a positive thing."

Sean Wise, author of Wise Words: Lessons in Entrepreneurship & Venture Capita and who serves as an adviser on CBC's Dragon's Den, says “Any new entrepreneur is better off taking money from someone who's been there and done that. Anything an entrepreneur can do to build a bond will not only increase a valuation, but it will also increase the probability of getting an investment."

Kitsch, from Kelona, B.C., is planning to move to California in April to promote Saxx. “There's 12 million people in Los Angeles County. So my goal is to sell 10,000 to 20,000 pairs this summer down in L.A. We're going to keep our Canadian business operating. Just expand down there (California)."



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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