True story: Gerry Toscani used to go to work every day, sit down at his desk and sell paper. His office was littered with notes from some of the biggest names in retail—names like Wal-Mart, Target and Walgreens. Now, he’s changing a lifetime of focus in the paper industry to sell one of the hottest new products in the outdoor industry. But what is it?
That product is a smartphone-sized, portable battery pack called Weego Jump Starter Battery+. And Weego is poised to become the most essential emergency equipment in a boat or vehicle since the fire extinguisher. Weego is in its first generation of sales, and already Toscani estimates that 35-40 percent of its sales are going to marine applications. For tackle retailers, that means an opportunity to increase revenue.
However, before you can make the sale, you need to know what you’re selling. It’s simple, really. Weego Jump Starter Battery+ starts your engine, charges your phone and fits in your pocket. Check it out:
Get it? Got it? Good.
The concept, jump starting a dead battery from a portable battery pack, is nothing new. Portable jump starters have been on the market for years; however, Weego’s implementation of that ability is new. And to tell you how, I’m going to take you back to the days of my youth. (Okay, at 27, some of you would be quick to whop me with the nearest fishing rod and tell me that I’m still in my youth. But that’s not the point.)
Hop on the flashback machine. The year is…early 2000-something, and the backyard of the Sills residence resembled a sort of Mad Max-style graveyard of fishing boats and rusty cars. The booster cables, the battery charger and, yes, the portable battery pack were a daily part of life.
Most of the family boats were…vintage. And they appeared to have been wired by rejected NASA test apes (or my dad). My daily car at the time was fast approaching its 50th birthday. Truthfully, whether you wanted to get out on the water and catch a few bass or take a girl to the movies on a Friday night, the odds of needing an electrical boost were pretty good. If your chosen mode of transport came from our house and if it featured an outboard, trolling or automotive motor, you were in peril of being stranded. To counter this, wherever I went, I hauled around a 20-pound “portable” battery pack the size of a bowling ball. It was cumbersome, heavy and, oh, if you didn’t charge it every few days it wouldn’t do you any good.
Would I have killed for a Weego? Yeah.
That’s because Weego is not a bowling ball. Weego is about the size of a smartphone, and it can fit in your back pocket with relative ease. What’s more, Toscani says Weego can hold its charge for months. (Using high-quality, lithium-ion batteries, Weego only loses 2 percent charge per month stored.)
To test the concept, Toscani sent his own sons on a tour of the Jersey Shore in a 1965 Ford Falcon wagon. The orange and white Falcon was 50 years old, driven by “kids” and powered by Weego. It also sold 150 units in just three weeks.
That’s with zero brand recognition and zero external marketing push.
“We learned a lot with the wagon,” Toscani will tell you. “When people saw the wagon pull up in the parking lot, they just started smiling.”
Weego is a family business, and Toscani says getting the kids involved and on the road was always part of the plan. “Instead of paying for a focus group, for the same amount of money we fixed up the Falcon,” he said.
[divider]A startup backed by legacy[/divider]
While Weego may be new, its’ parent company, Paris Corporation, is not. Paris Corporation has been around for five decades—as long as that orange and white Falcon. Toscani began working there at age 12, and it was under the Paris umbrella that he helped build a network of over 3,000 accounts in the paper business. There he learned the value of a quality product and exceptional customer service.
Those values have translated over to Weego. And so far, Toscani says the company has seen a less than 1 percent defect rate in their products:
“We build very high quality products that are reliable and easy to use. They’re lab tested. They’re backed by an established company. That’s why we offer what we call the Crazy Long 18 Month Warranty. We stand behind the product, and we’re all about service.”
Right now, Weego is available in two varieties: a smaller rechargeable battery pack line that is designed to charge phones, tablets and other electronics and a line of jump starters that can handle just about anything you can throw at them. Weego Jump Starter Battery+ is available in three sizes—the aptly named Standard, Heavy Duty and Professional models—for gas and diesel engines. Each size fits easily in a boat storage locker or emergency kit for that ‘just in case’ moment. All have a flashlight, and the two larger models also feature a built-in strobe and S.O.S. function.
Carrying Weego in your store is easy. Simply follow the link to the Weego bona fide reseller program here, or contact their team with your questions via their website. Weego has already partnered with a number of marine distributors across the country, if you wish to purchase through them.
So far, Gerry Toscani says his team is loving the transition to the fishing industry. “I love it,” he says, “because it’s fun. As an industry, you guys are passionate. It’s more about a lifestyle. You guys eat your own cooking.”
Here’s to serving up a new product that every stranded captain, driver and angler in North America would kill to have.