In the year since custom-fitted goggle producer TheMagic5 started its crowdfunding campaign, the company has made massive strides: The three Danish entrepreneurs (all swimmers themselves) doubled their initial fundraising target; moved from Denmark to Charlotte, North Carolina to begin daily manufacturing; and shipped their goggles to 84 countries and 48 states. Now, TheMagic5 is well-positioned to grow at an even faster rate, with plans to reach swimmers of all levels throughout the U.S.
We caught up with two of the three founders—Rasmus Barfred and Bo Haaber—to ask them why they started the company and what their year has been like.
Why did you decide to make custom-fitted swimming goggles?
Bo Haaber: It actually comes from the very profound frustration of spending 10 hours a week in a pool with bad equipment. The vast majority of swimmers know the problems: Water leaking inside their goggles; irritated eyes; some swimmers even experience skin irritation on their eye sockets from the pressure inflicted by traditional goggles. It’s not only annoying but, as swimmers know, it impedes the quality of training. One day, I called Rasmus and said, “We’re going to do something about this.” At first he didn’t know if I was serious, but I was!
Had you ever made goggles before?
Rasmus Barfred: We knew nothing about making goggles three years ago. We traveled around the world to figure out the basics, including the best way to make the frame, the glass, and the strap. We had to understand the market too.
At the same time, we were developing our advanced technology that would make our goggles fit each swimmer’s unique face. We took all of our research, added advanced mathematics, tons of coding, and lots of data and feedback to refine the final product.
Can you tell us more about how you developed the idea for the product?
Rasmus: I don’t know anyone who looks exactly like me. So we developed a swimming goggle that fits the unique curvature of your face. We like to say: “One size shall fit only one.”
When you purchase a pair, you use our app to scan your face in just minutes. We enter that data into an algorithm that will set up the shape of your custom-fitted goggles. They fit perfectly more than 99 percent of the time. Our customers have really responded positively. They also look really cool (we think).
What is the next step for the development of THEMAGIC5 goggles?
Rasmus: One of our core values is continuous improvement. From a technical standpoint, data is the key driver for continues product development, at this stage, we have flowed data through our software from more than 15.000 scans – to our knowledge, it is the biggest pool of this kind of data worldwide. In practice, the fit of the goggles are already at a completely different level than other goggles – at least that’s what our users tell us. We want to continue to be on the forefront of technology, and we’re launching an updated version of our app to allow faster and easier scanning.
What’s been the best review so far?
Rasmus: We recently heard from a swimmer who completed a six-hour, 10-mile swim around an entire island in Indonesia without having to even touch his goggles. This is what we hear time and time again–and it’s amazing, considering all the swimmers who are forced to adjust their traditional goggles every 500 meters or so just to stay comfortable.
Another swimmer said, “I could not feel that I was wearing goggles.” That was Danish Olympian Daniel Skaaning.
What’s been the biggest challenge in the past year?
Bo: Believe it or not, it wasn’t developing the product but setting up a global operation. Within just five months of launching our Kickstarter campaign, we set up a small production facility in Charlotte, we were receiving orders, shipping goggles, and offering customer support to and from 84 countries. While that’s a big logistical challenge, when our team sees problems, we respond with the attitude that anything is possible.
Why did you end up in Charlotte?
Rasmus: We want to be close to the swimmers, and North Carolina is a very good place to be for this. We have enjoyed our relationship with some of the best European swimmers in developing and launching our goggles, and will continue to expand our relationship with prominent swimmers throughout US.
Where can we get the goggles?
Rasmus: Right on our website. Choose your favorite design, download the app on iPhone and Android, and take a few minutes to scan your face. If you live in the U.S., you’ll receive your custom goggles in only five days.
TheMagic5 is a SwimSwam partner.