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Setting the sails for market

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Nic Strum loves solving problems. He also loves boating. So when he couldn’t find a boat-mooring product that worked better than tying a knot in a rope, he invented one. Meet MoorQik: a sturdy rope, float and snap-hook device, made in Nova Scotia, that Strum now markets locally and for export.

“The MoorQik is the confluence of two sides of my life – the engineering side and the side that grew up in Bedford and loves being on the water,” he says. With a degree in mechanical engineering, Strum spends his days as a consulting engineer. This spring, in his spare time, he developed the MoorQik and got it into production. Then he contacted Nova Scotia Business Inc.

“With a company like MoorQik,” says Nova Scotia Business Inc.’s  Lisa Dobson, “it’s about helping him navigate – connecting him to the right folks, market education, and also helping him navigate other agencies’ programs and services that are a good fit.” As one of Nova Scotia Business Inc.’s Regional Business Development Advisors, Lisa works with companies to help them grow, including helping Strum identify local and export market opportunities.

“Lisa is a good sounding board for ideas,” Strum says. “She has provided contacts I could talk to for selling the product. She has also helped with marketing and getting the product name out. It’s been good, and moving forward we’ll probably work together a fair amount.”

We asked Strum about his invention and what lies ahead.

What problem is MoorQik solving?

Mooring your boat by tying a rope is a hassle. You’re bending and stretching. The wind and waves pull at the knot and tighten it. And if someone else ties it for you, you wonder if they’ve tied it right. The idea was to make mooring your boat quick, easy, and secure, so you wouldn’t have to worry.

How is it manufactured?

It’s assembled by Rainbow Net & Rigging, which supplies the commercial fishing industry here in Nova Scotia. I worked with them from the beginning to find the right components.

When was MoorQik first available?

I started the design in early April 2015, then the patent process. In early May, the website was open for sales. By June, MoorQik was available through three or four retailers. The first sale into the US through Amazon happened in early July.

How have you been selling so far?

It’s selling well. I’m still evaluating which channels are the most effective, but sales have been consistent and growing.

Any lessons for budding entrepreneurs on selling through Amazon?

Amazon has been good to me, and the process went fairly smoothly. They want a product picture that has no background, and the product needs either a UPC (bar) code or to be part of the Amazon brand registry. The registry is mainly for small manufacturers, and it’s free – you just have to go through their process. You also have to list your product separately on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, but that’s not difficult.

What are your plans and hopes for MoorQik?

This year, we’re focusing on Nova Scotia. So far, marketing is word of mouth, the website, and Twitter. When our boating season ends, I’ll concentrate on online sales and Amazon. My goal this winter is to talk to distributors who supply marine stores.

I like coming up with new ideas, and I see us developing a brand with high-quality products that solve common problems. I’m looking to make connections and to hear from people, whether they have ideas for products or exploring opportunities to work together (www.moorqik.com or @MoorQik).

I’ve always wanted to export a product from Nova Scotia to bring money into the province. It’s nice to see that happen, and I’m looking forward to expanding on it.

Have an idea to grow? “Nobody is too small if you have export potential. Everybody starts from somewhere, so don’t ever be afraid to call Nova Scotia Business Inc.”– Lisa Dobson, Regional Business Development Advisor.

Nova Scotia Business Inc. has office locations across the province. Contact a Regional Business Development Advisor near you for business development assistance.