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Letting the Genie Out of the Bottle Too Soon?

When a Portland, Oregon, engineer’s 13-year-old daughter asked if it was possible to build a one-wheeled motorcycle she saw in a video game, Chris Hoffmann decided that yes – he probably could. Further research revealed earlier attempts, such as a wild sit-inside-the-wheel contraption from the 1940s. With recent technological advances and cost reductions, leveraged from mass produced products like smart phones, the technology-to-cost curve had finally hit a tipping point. After nearly eight years of development, the Ryno is ready to be introduced to the world. Small, sleek and unique, it looks like something that rolled off a sci-fi movie set on to your neighborhood sidewalk. A modern day, 21st century high-tech version of the turn of the 20th century unicycle, the Ryno Cycle bears little resemblance to its ancestor. With a stubby, lower center of gravity and electrically powered, the Ryno was developed to accomplish a simple mission: making motorized personal transportation accessible, enjoyable, and practical.

With a price point under $5500.00, the space aged unicycle promises to attract an eager market of urban users who want to sport-around town at 10 miles per hour.  The Ryno promises easy, safe operation even to the motorized, cycle riding challenged among us. Recently, Chris Hoffman, inventor and CEO of Ryno Cycle, introduced his new contraption on an edition of NBC’s Today show and announced that the high-tech cycle would be ready for delivery by April 16, 2014. But a visit to the companies Facebook page and website, immediately after the televised introduction, revealed digital marketing collateral that is not fully developed, optimized or designed to provide users the opportunity to navigate effectively to making a purchase. With dealership information still incomplete and many product details and options not fully implemented, it would suggest that the April 16, roll-out is a bit optimistic at best.

The Ryno Cycle is a fantastic example of ingenuity of purpose and technological design and Mr. Hoffman and his obviously very capable team is to be commended on their engineering skills and insight in developing a unique product and bringing it to market introduction. Unfortunately, it may also be an example of how even the most brilliant product can have its introduction stymied by a lack of focus and preparation in engaging an effective marketing strategy.

In this fast paced technological environment, it is increasingly important to allocate resources to the development of a marketing strategy and its implementation that is at least equal to the commitment of time, energy and expertise directed to the engineering and development of the product. No matter how exciting and anticipated the product, failing to be fully ready to deliver the product and its promised benefits will result in confusion, frustration and negative resignation on the part of today’s demanding consumer and can embolden the market position of better prepared competitors.  Let’s hope that Ryno Cycle is quick to address the marketing issues before this ingenious new consumer vehicle doesn’t become another example of letting the genie out of the bottle too soon.

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