By Phyllis Mak, Communications Intern at RIC Centre
There’s a lot more happening in a hockey game than scoring goals and fights. When we get down to the bottom of it, one of the most fundamental parts of a hockey player’s performance is their skate. What if there was a new type of blade that could improve the player’s performance while mitigating the possibility for injuries? Jeffrey Azzolin, Founder of Bladetech Hockey, reveals how Bladetech’s unique hockey blades can give skaters a new edge and lower the risks of getting hurt.
“Bladetech is unique because we are producing the world’s only flexible steel skate blade. The innovation of turning the blade itself into a spring to harness and release energy has not been thought of before, and gives us a unique advantage,” Jeffrey explains. “The motion designed into the blade gives the user a unique feel that we have come to find is much appreciated by our users. The blade characteristics allow it to enhance skater performance while also limiting injuries and damage to the body, which are two major benefits no other rigidly connected blade can achieve.”
Jeffrey noticed that there was a lack of new designs and effort placed into the ‘blade-holder relationship’ when most manufacturers tend to focus solely on the boot design. This left Jeffrey room for innovation and the opportunity to make efficiencies for the users.
“Developing Bladetech was a very long process filled with design iterations and testing,” Jeffrey admits. “It took many different ideas and prototypes to get to the final working model. The process was extremely difficult, full of obstacles and challenges that had to be carefully solved and eliminated. It was very frustrating at some times, but very rewarding at other times. There were many unforeseen hurdles that would catch you by surprise and would end up leading you down a different path than you initially expected.”
But Jeffrey’s success with Bladetech meant the creation of Flex-Force Technology, a blade design that incorporates the use of a ‘flex point’, which allows the blade to flex and store energy before it whips back to launch the skater forwards.
“The blade is essentially designed to take the form of a cantilevered beam, like a diving board; firmly anchored and connected at one end, but left free to float and move at the other end,” Jeffrey reveals. “The style of these connections allow the blade to deflect to store energy, which it can later release to the user to provide a speed boost.”
And where better to introduce a blade that reduces injuries and helps skaters gain more speed than the NHL itself? With a focus on expanding their NHL presence and now over thirty NHL players using their product, Bladetech wants to move into other projects such as goalie blades, figure skating blades, and gaining major retail outlets to carry the product.
“Within the year, Bladetech has been able to enter into this demanding market space and succeed by providing an innovative product that offers such coveted characteristics like performance improvement and injury prevention,” Jeffery says. “The RIC Centre provided mentors that not only gave me guidance and support, but also strong connections that helped me in my journey. They provided unique perspectives, different ways of tackling my problems, and have been able to point me in directions to grow and succeed. The great thing about these mentors is that they have all done it before, know the struggles and know the direction needed to become successful. Without their help, I would certainly not be as accomplished as I am now and wouldn’t be as far along in my journey.”
And Bladetech’s journey has certainly brought them a long way: not only have they increased their Ontario retail locations to a total of ten locations, they’ve also established that their product is coveted at the consumer level and provides active players with crucial performance and health benefits to their game.
“I think the goal we can be most proud of reaching is thirty-plus NHL players using our blades,” Jeffrey says. “It was an incredible feat to get the first player to give us a chance and try out the product, and we are extremely grateful. The word quickly spread and now we have a solid base of the world’s highest-calibre players using our product, which is extremely gratifying.”
“Our goal for 2017 is to get over 100 players in the NHL while expanding our retail presence to over fifty locations Canada-wide,” Jeffrey adds. “It will be a major step to take, but we feel that with the foundation we have established in 2016, our creative management team and our mentors, we are ready to take this challenge head on.”
Check out RIC Centre’s Growing Your Business: The Power of Digital Marketing seminar on April 6th to learn more about different digital marketing strategies and the best practices for a small business! Don’t forget to become a RIC Centre client today and gain access to expert advice and startup resources for your business today.