DotCom Magazine - Entrepreneur Interview
ExtremeMist CEO Ron Laikind Interview
Today, we are delighted to have Ron Laikind, the Founder and CEO of Extreme Mist PCS, LLC at our entrepreneur round table. ExtremeMist™ is the world’s first hands-free portable cooling system. The people at DotCom Magazine have tested the ExtemeMist™ System on a recent hike up Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, and walked away very impressed. We have voted the ExtremeMist&trade PCS System as one of the coolest new pieces of gear for hiking enthusiasts, as it keeps any outdoor enthusiast cool so they can keep on going.
- Ron, we know you have explored some of the world’s hottest deserts. We have heard you have had some precarious close calls on your adventure travels to these extreme environments. How did your travels lead to the invention of your ExtremeMist™ Portable Misting System?
Andy, anytime you go hiking or trekking you are exposing yourself to the possibility of dehydration. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold out. The body not only loses water through perspiration but through respiration as well, especially in dry high altitudes. Having said that, I not only live in the desert but have always been drawn to them for adventure traveling. Anyone attempting 200 plus trekking miles through the world’s hottest deserts is bound to have some close calls relating to health issues and that certainly does not exclude me!
Several desert treks back, my itinerary lead me to Mali in Africa to the fabled city of Timbuktu. From there I decided to walk due north approximately 500 miles into the Sahara Desert. The short of it was, it’s almost impossible to not become dehydrated to some degree.
It was during this trek that my Camelier showed me an ancient trick to cool down our close to boiling-point drinking water that we would pull from wells every 3-4 days along a caravan route. By placing a bowl of water on the scorching sands, slightly tilting it towards a breeze and under direct sunlight, the water due to the evaporation process would turn cold. That was my “ah ha” moment to integrate some sort of a portable misting system into by backpack.
- What has the response been from people on trails who see you wearing your system on your daily hikes?
The response from people has been interesting. Because this is a first to market product, the larger percentage of hikers don’t believe their own eyes. I see them look at the fog, then most of the time I can tell by their look that it’s just not registering with their brain unless they are close enough to get a blast of the mist when I go by. Then they will usually stop in their tracks and ask what in the heck is going on and where can they get one for themselves.
- You have received an amazing endorsement from a Scottsdale fire firefighter who actually saw you using the mister to cool down a heat exhausted hiker. Can you tell us about that?
Yeah, this last summer I assisted three different people that were in varying degrees of heat distress. The worst being unconscious in full out heat stroke. This was on fairly common mountainous hiking trails in North Scottsdale Arizona near my home. In all 3 cases I turned my PCS mist system on high and cooled down the people as they were sprawled out on the trails. It usually took 30-45 minutes for the rescue team to get on scene. Once there they always asked me to keep misting the person while they were assessing and starting IV’s. They always mentioned how much that the cooling really helped.
- Why does mist work? Does it cool down the body temperature? Why is that important?
Of course, in Arizona one doesn’t have to look hard to find a mist system in the summer. They are everywhere, on commercial buildings and on residential patios. These large, commercial systems will cool down the surrounding area up to 30°F. You can start with even hot water and during the atomization process it comes out cool in the fine mist. It’s a physics thing! The PCS works on similar parameters. However, the PCS has multiple speeds controlled by a wireless key fob. On the lowest speeds, perfect for walking/hiking/running/cycling, the mist is heavier, not as atomized as the higher speeds. This allows for heavier, larger droplets that will allow the wearer to move into the mist and enjoy thousands of micro-droplets to directly hit the skin before evaporating. Also, by inhaling the soothing mist it helps cool you from the inside out as it helps with hydration. It also helps with runner’s dry throat.
- We actually saw a photo of a dog that had the mister set up on him. What other applications can the mister be used for besides hiking?
Oh yeah, you saw Highway! He loves to go out for walks no matter what time of year. But in hot climate zones you should never take a dog out when it hits 90°F plus. Dogs cool down through panting and mainly through their chest and stomach areas. So, I bought a pair of saddlebags and installed a PCS retrofit kit the same as I would for any backpack. The mist nozzle clips to his collar. As he walks, the cool mist goes right under him to the areas that need cooling. He loves it! I wear mine, he wears his.
ExtremeMist also sells a string of hoses with 4 nozzles on it called the Quad. This is especially useful out of the pack. I have it hooked up to my 4-seater razor ATV by attaching it to its roll-bar. Above each seat is a mist nozzle for air-conditioned comfort. I also use it on my hiking tent to make day time lounging possible even with greenhouse affect inside. Other uses, golf carts and caddies, lounge chairs at the pool or beach, fishing, boating, tailgating, festivals, cheering parents on the sidelines and anywhere else additional cooling may be needed.
- What has been the most challenging thing about bringing your product to market that other entrepreneurs can learn from?
Where do I start with this one? Nothing is easy, or everyone would be doing it, as the saying goes. Right? From conception to first product run is challenging. I think from the conception basis having to get your head out of the clouds or in my case mist you have to be realistic in your expectations especially when it comes to design. You have to work with your engineers closely and most likely will need to make some compromises. That’s never easy! Then selecting a manufacturer who gets it! It’s your idea, your baby so you really need a team who understands your mindset. On a start-up you usually are going to have to wear dozens of proverbial hats. Be prepared for long hours and a lot of ups and downs along the journey. Try to stay in the moment but never let go of your original vision even if it morphs into directions you never foresaw. Try to have help from mentors, friends, family and paid consultants when affordable.
- You are a very accessible founder. People can actually call you and email you with questions about the system. Why have you decided to make yourself so available to your customers?
I am an accessible founder! I put my soul into this invention and I take customer service very personally. When a user gives a positive review, I’m like a proud Papa. If a customer has a problem, I want to personally walk them through the fix or installation. I am however realistic about this. When the company scales internationally, it won’t be possible for me to handle every question, but by that time I will have a hand-picked, directly trained by myself, a vested crew of like-minded people to oversee customer relations.
- There is a lot of interest in this product from companies in various sectors. Why do you think you have received so much interest so early in your business cycle?
The answer is fairly straightforward. When it’s hot outside most people give up a great portion of the activities they enjoy and need to hunker down until it’s cooler out. With the Extrememist™ you can get out there and enjoy the out of doors much easier even in harsh environments such as Arizona, my home State. Now with a quality hands-free personal cooling system available, outdoor retailers can offer their customers an extended time outdoors and at the same time enjoy ancillary sales of footwear, packs, clothing, etc. It can turn a traditional down season into an up season.
- What is your Why? Why do you get up in the morning and what makes you keep on going?
What keeps me going? I’ve always been a rather extreme adventurer. The invention process fairly mirrors that same adrenaline-junkie mentality. If I’m not out on the trail or searching for treasure this fulfills that need of accomplishment and adrenaline rushes while at the same time helping other people to stay healthier while being extreme!
- Any final words for people that have an idea, but don’t know how to take that first step to making their product a reality?
The hardest thing is pulling the proverbial trigger on a new idea. I am as guilty as anyone about this. I have had so many ideas throughout my life that I never acted upon. It can be a daunting experience especially the first time you attempt it. How many of us has said, Hey, I thought of that a long time ago! My best advice is to vet your idea through a few close confidants who will be truthful about your idea regardless of your feelings. Then spend a lot of time searching it on google, etc. for anything close to it. Having an original idea is actually quite rare. If you are fairly confident in your idea, you can then either hire or do a patent search yourself. (Just because someone has not brought it to fruition doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t own the patent already.) If no one has patented your idea, I suggest you then seek out a patent attorney or service to continue rather than going it alone. At the same time consult with an engineering company. I don’t suggest using companies that are advertised to bring your invention to market for you, unless you thoroughly investigate them. This is all just a small part of the process and you are going to need to spend some capital just to get to this point. But if you do get here strap yourself in for a hell of a ride!