A Spectra® Fiber partner
Loctote is a new start-up located in the heartland of America. The company produces industrial strength anti-theft bags for everyday use. We asked Don Halpern, Founder and CEO, to give us his take on Loctote’s unique partnership with Spectra.
Tell us a little about Loctote:
Basically, I came up with an idea for a bag a few years ago and spent about a year researching it. We made a prototype, launched on Kickstarter in April 2016 and the whole thing went viral. At the start, we were looking for $18,000 to produce 1,000 bags, and I was going to front the cost of materials myself. But we ended up raising $855,000 on Kickstarter. Plus, we raised another $700,000 on Indiegogo. That’s when we realized we were really onto something and we’d need to expand.
“Thanks to Spectra and their partners like Supreme, we’ve got textiles that nobody else has.”
Founder and CEO, Loctote
Then we were invited onto the reality TV show Shark Tank. But I had some very shocking news. Amidst all the excitement, I was diagnosed with cancer. Shark Tank still went ahead and we filmed it after my surgery. Fortunately, both the treatment and the Shark Tank show were a great success.
What initially inspired you to start the company?
It all began on the beach in August 2014. I’d been developing another invention, an electric skateboard, but things hadn’t worked out. To help me come to terms with the failure of my invention, I was on holiday with my family on the Caribbean island of St. Croix.
One afternoon, the rest of the family headed back to the hotel while I carried on snorkeling. I’d left my valuables – room key, cash and phone – in my shoe under a towel like I always did. When I looked back from where I was snorkeling, I saw a guy rummaging through my stuff. I shouted at him but I was quite far from the shore and, of course, by the time I got back, it was too late.
I always take my laptop on vacation (I’m a bit of a nerd like that). So that night, I started browsing for some type of bag that I could take to the beach to keep my things safe. It had to be impenetrable, I wanted it to have RFID shielding, and it had to look good. There wasn’t anything that fit my criteria, so I decided to invent something myself.
You use your products at the beach when you’re swimming, right? Tell us about your favorite outdoor pursuits in your downtime.
I use my bags at the beach, for sure. That’s one of my primary uses. But my favorite outdoor pursuit is skateboarding. I’m 54 and I’ve never outgrown it. The rest of the guys at work want to go to the skate-park to ride pipes and ramps. My preference is we go downtown and ride in parking garages. Because it’s like going to a ski resort – you go up in the elevator!
I also play lacrosse, soccer and ride a unicycle with my kids. Typically, when I’m doing all this stuff, I’ll have a Loctote bag with me. The cool thing about skateboarding when you’re wearing our bag is, if you crash, you won’t damage it. You can slide across your back on it, and it’ll protect you. That’s not really what the bag is designed for, but it’s a great feature nonetheless.
What’s the most exciting thing that you’ve ever done?
I’ve jumped out of planes and I’m scared of heights. I’ve done heli-boarding – jumping out of a helicopter to snowboard down mountains – and I always take one of our bags with me.
But I’d have to say the most exciting thing was doing Shark Tank. That was just a different world for me. Going out, filming a TV show, meeting the Sharks, negotiating with them for an hour and a half. On Shark Tank, you only see eight minutes of a pitch.
But there’s a lot more to it. We were going head to head with Mark Cuban and Mr Wonderful, Robert, Daymond and Lori. For me, that was the most exciting thing ever.
What do you love about your job on a day-to-day basis?
It’s never the same. Our company is small, so everybody does everything. I do all kinds of things from creative work to helping the guys with videos, photoshoots, material planning, prototyping new products, packing orders and dealing with customers. Plus, everything we do has an immediate impact. We’re a young company and every decision we make we live and die by.
What makes the Flak Sack collection so unique?
The Flak Sack is the toughest, highest-quality theft-resistant bag available, and it looks amazing. We’re not the only people in the world making anti-theft products. But in our opinion, competing bags don’t look nearly as good. Plus, they’re all very easy to get into. The fabrics are nowhere near as good as Spectra.
Thanks to Spectra, we’ve got textiles that nobody else has. At best, our competitors in the cut-resistant product market hit a standard called EN388 Level 5 (a European standard for cut resistance). EN388 Level 5 is the same as ANSI 105 level 4 in the US. Our fabric reaches ANSI 105 level 9+, which is off the scale. What’s more, our products are cool to carry and young people want to be seen with them.
We know you spend a lot of time getting your products just right … What compelled you to choose Spectra over the alternatives?
To be honest, it’s just better. A key part of our brand DNA and philosophy is to use the best ingredients in our bags. When we were looking at Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) fiber, we looked across the board. Now I can’t tell you the science behind it, but Spectra’s strength and performance exceeds everything else out there. And given how much stronger it is, pound for pound, to the competition, it made complete sense for us to use it. It’s super high performance and we love the stuff.
Is it a good experience working with Spectra to create products?
It’s incredible. I tell my people all the time: it’s a blessing. I don’t know why Spectra reached out to us. Having Honeywell and Spectra in our back pocket, providing us with fiber and engineering expertise is fantastic. They go out of their way. They’re super-accommodating to work with and have introduced us to some great partners like the textile and fiber tech company, Tuff-N-Lite® (a division of Supreme Corp.), who helped us by utilizing Spectra to create the unique FLAKnit™ fabric we use for the Flak Sack bags. Also, you’ve got to realize, compared with their typical Spectra user, we’re a blip in terms of the quantities we use. But I feel like we’re one of their top customers.
As a partner, I know they’re investing in us, which is both exciting and surprising. That someone as big as Honeywell cares enough about Loctote to work with us is a huge competitive advantage. Not every start-up has the backing of a Fortune 100 corporation.
Is there anything else in the pipeline that you’re working on with Spectra?
Everything. In other words, we have tons of bags and different products in the pipeline. Everything in the pipeline – including bigger stuff, like backpacks and duffel bags, and smaller things, like more personal products – is being built around Spectra.
If you could use Spectra to make anything at all, what would you use it for?
I wear T-shirts to work all the time but they always get ruined so quickly. So, I’d make a T-shirt out of Spectra – one that would last.