Mush, puppy!

Originally designed for extreme athletes, Diggler's scooters have gone to the dogs.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Rob Fruechtenicht, as told to Malika Zouhali-Worrall

mush_puppy.03.jpg
Originally designed for extreme athletes, Diggler's scooter has gone to the dogs. Here, Wiggins tows his owner, CEO Fruechtenicht.

(Fortune Small Business) -- When I started designing mountain scooters, I didn't have dogs in mind. I grew up in Marin County, Calif., watching guys from the area develop the mountain bike. It didn't take long for me to decide that I wanted to do something similar.

I was a competitive mountain biker, and I launched Diggler because I dreamed of inventing a sport that combined biking, boarding, and skiing. One day, soon after college, I took apart an old scooter, attached a skateboard platform to it, and added BMX bike wheels and the suspension system from my bike.

I started test-riding the contraption on mountain trails. One afternoon I tried to skid over a rock at a high speed. That was one of the worst wipeouts of my life. But it inspired me to add a plastic ski to the bottom of the scooter so that riders could slide more over rough terrain, enabling them to perform tricks without killing themselves.

At first I focused on selling to ski resorts, figuring that they could rent out the scooters during warmer months. After Mike Kloser, a triathlete and world champion mountain biker, took one of my scooters for a test run at Vail Resorts' Beaver Creek, I made my first sale in 1999 to the ski resort company, which bought a fleet of eight. Today about 50 ski resorts use my scooters.

I have no idea how dogsledders got hold of my product, but about three years ago I received a large order from a sled-dog equipment company. It turned out that they were attaching leashes to the scooters and using them to train dogs when there wasn't any snow. I soon realized that Diggler had tapped into a brand-new sport: urban mushing.

The International Sled Dog Racing Association holds dry-land races five times a year. Our overall sales hit about $500,000 last year, a third of which came from mushers. Thanks to recent design tweaks such as a more efficient leash attachment, we're hoping to increase the number of dog scooters we sell this year by 50%. I wanted to help create a new sport, but I never expected it to be this.

Rob Fruechtenicht is the Founder and CEO of Diggler in Petaluma, Calif.  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.




QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.
These 10 food trends could dominate 2015 So long, kale. Here's what's expected to shake up the food industry next year. More
Beyond Russia: Geopolitical hot spots in 2015 Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More
These 20 antique guns could fetch big bucks Morphy Auctions in Pennsylvania is putting nearly 1,000 old guns on the block. Here are just a few. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.