250 million people across the globe suffer daily with putting on their shoes due to physical and cognitive challenges. It’s probably about time that an entrepreneur tackled this problem given the size of this total addressable market. In comes Quikiks with its revolutionary technology that allows an individual to put on shoes without the use of their hands. The idea came to founder Steven Kaufman when observing his son’s own challenges. At the intersection of healthcare and footwear, the company has now patented its Step-in-Go Technology.
We chat with Steven today to learn more about how this cool technology works, where the company is today, and where it plans on going in the future.
Tell us about the product or service.
We make Quikiks – the first totally hands-free operable, fully supportive footwear. How do they work? Easy. The rear portion of the shoe tilts back on a hinge creating an extra-wide entry – allowing your foot to easily slide right in. As you step down, the back rotates closed and fastens with a magnet. To get out, simply strike the heel on the floor and the momentum of your foot pops the back open so your foot slips right out – no bending and totally hands-free!
How is it different?
The thing that makes Quikiks different from the existing “hands-free” options, such as flip-flops and clog-like shoes, is that Quikiks provide exceptional heel and foot support and they securely fasten, so they will not inadvertently slip off the feet.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Our market is the 50 million people in the U.S. and 250 million globally who struggle each day with putting on their shoes due to some sort of physical or cognitive challenge. They include chronic back pain sufferers, post-stroke victims, those afflicted by Cerebral Palsy and Autism, people struggling with obesity, debilitating arthritis sufferers, hand and arm amputees, hip replacement recipients…. the list goes on and on. Total consumer purchases of footwear are approximately $75B in the U.S. and $288B globally.
We are using a contract footwear manufacturer to produce our line of Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes with our patented Step-in-Go Technology. Quikiks will be sold through a network of wholesale resellers, predominantly comprised of healthcare professionals’ offices, such as orthotists, podiatrists, certified pedorthists, and chiropractors. Additionally, we’ll sell through specialty shoe retailers, medical supply and orthopedic footwear distributors, and direct to consumers through our website. After attaining more traction, we think our Step-in-Go Technology will be a good licensing play for other footwear brands.
What inspired the business?
About seven years ago, my son Alex was diagnosed with Scoliosis and he had to wear a BIG torso brace to prevent the curve in his spine from getting worse, but it also prevented him from being able to bend over and put his own shoes on, so I had to do it every day for him. Eventually, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if he had a pair of real shoes that he could just step into and they would automatically fasten, so it would give him more independence, while unburdening me as the caregiver?” Well, shoes like that didn’t exist, so I set out to create them.
Continued inspiration has come from meeting people at trade shows telling me stories of how hands-free shoes have the potential to improve their quality-of-life and restore their independence and self-esteem because they will no longer have to rely on someone else to put their shoes on for them.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Have Quikiks appear on the store shelves of several orthopedic shoe retailers and healthcare practitioners’ offices, hire a major footwear design and marketing firm, expand our distribution channels to include DME suppliers and close on a Series A round.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
To be told how competitive it is for startup capital. New York is great because it has such an amazing start-up eco-system here with a depth of resources, but at the same time, it draws so many companies here that it is very competitive when pitching for those dollars. You have to be prepared to bootstrap for a long time.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Kenneth Cole, because he’s a footwear and marketing genius and he has a long history of trying to help and give a voice to marginalized people.
Why did you launch in New York?
It’s my home.
Where is your favorite outdoor bar in the city for a drink?
The deck of my sailboat, sipping Dark & Stormies.