Editor’s Note: This multi-part series Women’s Stringing Roundtable on #TheGopherProject will provide insight from experienced stringers and representatives from stringing manufacturers. Check out last week’s edition here. Women’s lacrosse equipment manufacturers discuss the product development process for women’s gear.
Women’s lacrosse pockets have always had more restrictions than men’s pockets. With the recent relaxing of the rules and allowing women’s lacrosse mesh pockets, it will be interesting to see how the game evolves. Let’s introduce our panel for this part of the roundtable:
Nick VanRensselaer and Austin Atkinson of ECD
Julie Gardner of STX
James Miceli and Evan McDonell of Epoch
Kit Smith and Matt Schuler of String King
From conception to final product, what is the normal timeframe for product development?
ECD: The general product development process that we go through for any and all our products explores current competitor options, market potential, and current technology, before there are any prototypes produced. Prior to the new rules being announced we were exploring different options. Before we arrived at our final concept for Venom, we tried over 30 different types of pockets. We tried everything from full mesh pockets, to half-mesh pockets (like what a few competitors have done), to something in between. What we found is that none of these options really gave the girls what they were looking for. We arrived at the final Venom concept based on an idea that Austin had. We landed on the small mesh runner with Vortex diamonds because we wanted to have the benefits of mesh (weather proof, consistency) with the rigidity and structure of a traditional stick. From all our testing and prototyping, we found that nothing came close to the Venom pocket for hold, release, and control. Throughout all our prototyping we had a group of around 15 girls and women of all levels, from middle school to professional, giving us feedback on each iteration of pocket we developed.
STX: We spend about 2 years on a product prior to introducing it to the market. There is the R&D (research & design) process that kicks things off. From there, numerous iterations of the physical design are shown to players across the country in order for us to be able to decide the best design for the product. We create prototypes using the actual material that the product will be created from, and after months of player field testing we have a strong understanding of how the product performs. Finally, we put on the finishing touches and those special STX details. Marketing plans begin and we set our exact launch date. TONS of conversations and testing takes place before bringing anything to life. It is a fun, but long process!
Epoch: There is never a set timeline for a product. Some projects are a few months, some can take years. We always like to take our time to validate the details of the product before we launch.
String King: Generally, development takes about 6-8 months. First, we read through forums, comment sections, and reviews of the existing products and landscape so that we understand what players like and don’t like about a current product. Then we test the existing products on the market so that we can set our target product specifications and plan our first sample round. Sometimes the sampling process is quick, but most of the time we try to exhaust the possibilities – generally more samples will result in a better final product.