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Kickstarter Boots Another Local Business to Success: Right PSI

Kathy Wojcik  |  Monday Mar. 31st, 2014

It’s happening again! Another small upstart company with a great concept is about to change a market sector and its happening right here in the Gallatin Valley. This time the company is RightPSI, owned and founded by John Milanovich.  

The automotive aftermarket (items that you add to your car or truck that aren’t built-in during manufacture) is considered a mature market. Nothing new or fancy happening here. Boring! Well, not any more. Enter RightPSI with a tire pressure gauge that stays on your tire, allows you to adjust your tire pressure through the gauge and, best of all, shows you whether your tire is over-inflated, under-inflated or just right. And it does this by magically changing color. Crazy, huh?  

This Belgrade based two-person operation began 7 years ago, when John’s dad showed his son some patents. You see, when John’s dad was a kid, he spent a lot of time patching up tires. This got him interested in tire pressure. Intuitively he knew there just had to be a better way to prevent tire pressure issues and after years of tinkering with the concept, his original idea was patented in the 1990’s. John took one look at this tire pressure device concept and thought it would be a great entry into the transportation market. John, a Montana native, had been in the financial industry and wanted to change gears, thus RightPSI was born.

Every year, almost 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline are wasted due to under inflated tires. Under and over inflated tires cause thousands of accidents each year. More than 60 million cars are being driven with one tire significantly under inflated. This reduces fuel efficiency, handling, and tire life by at much as 25%. It increases carbon dioxide pollution, your braking distance and wastes  your hard-earned money. Ninety-two percent of drivers are concerned about their tire pressure, however only 20% of the drivers on the road correctly check the air pressure in their tires! How might these statistics improve if you could visually assure your tire pressure was good-to-go before you hit the road?

With this and other green initiatives in mind, RightPSI contracted with a team of industrial designers (formerly from IDEO) for design improvements. These prototypes were displayed at a variety of aftermarket shows. The response was phenomenal. Popular Mechanics gave the RightPSI product an Editor’s Choice Award in 2011. The buzz from the Specialty Equipment Market Association show generated interest from distributors as far away as China, South Africa and Brazil, to name just a few. In early March 2014, RightPSI was selected as a finalist in The Dream Big America contest.

So are you curious about how this gauge works? It’s simple and ingenious really. The cap has a sensitive spring that continuously monitors the pressure of each tire. Think about it, even if your current vehicle has a tire pressure monitoring system built in, when the instrument panel light comes on, you don’t know which tire is low. With RightPSI caps, you will know just by looking at the caps color. An under inflated tire? The cap will be orange. Over inflated? Yellow. Precisely correct? The cap will be black. Easy, right?

So how do you actually use the RightPSI cap? First you remove your tire valve cap. You won’t be needing it any more. Screw on a RightPSI cap and you’re done.    
And there’s more. No need to remove the cap to adjust your tire pressure. The cap has a flow through valve and the color will change to black when the correct pressure is attained.

Interestingly, in most cases, no matter what kind of car or truck you drive, your valve stem is the same.  Yep, Schrader pneumatic valve stems are universally used in the automotive manufacturing industry. So with all the cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles  and commercial vehicles on the road, RightPSI has a tire pressure cap for everyone. Caps range from 8psi to 120psi and yes; you do need to pick the right cap for your tire’s recommended pressure.  

There are caps for bicycle applications too. So you’ll get ultimate efficiency and  tire wear knowing your road or mountain bike tires are properly inflated. Worried about someone stealing your precious caps? Don’t. These guys have put a hex nut on the end of the cap so the issue of theft is drastically reduced.  

Looking to personalize the look of your car, motorcycle, truck or bike?  RightPSI has you covered there too. Caps will be available in a number of colors, including blue, red, yellow, pink, matte black, matte silver and glow-in-the-dark.       

RightPSI’s kickstarter campaign had an original goal of $20,000. A lot people immediately got behind this product and that $20K goal was reached in five days. When I was writing this article, RightPSI had exceeded their goal by 300%, with 1300 backers! And there were still 15 days left in their fund raising period.
The money raised from the Kickstarter campaign will be used for tooling. The caps are injection molded and then laser welded to provide a high quality leak-proof device. RightPSI currently has a one-cavity prototype tool. That means that the caps are literally made one at a time. They need to have a multi-cavity tool built. This will get them into production mode.

This is actually RightPSI’s second Kickstarter effort. They aborted the first one because they discovered that crowdfunding is a process that requires constant support and great rewards for the people who fund the project. Bottomline: They just weren’t ready. Now they are and, as you will see if you check out their kickstarter page, they are killing it!  

Jack Zampolin, RightPSI’s VP of Business Development is overseeing the Kickstarter campaign. He and John are continually on the Kickstarter site, responding to comments and answering questions. In addition to his responsibilities for Kickstarter, Jack, a recent transplant from Richmond, VA, is out there promoting the product, calling distributors and doing PR. While sipping a cup of coffee, he told me that when they get into production they plan to manufacture the product here. That means jobs for area residents. Yeah, it’s an entrepreneurial lifestyle that Jack is living; wearing a lot of hats and doing whatever needs to be done. By the way, Jack’s enthusiasm is palpable. He is totally stoked about the potential and trajectory of RightPSI.

Kickstarter is the largest crowdfunding website in the world. Since its inception in 2009, it has already raised more than $1 billion. This represents funding for over 57,000 projects by almost 6 million people around the world! Kickstarter is located in Brooklyn NY and employs about 80 people. The platform uses an all-or-nothing approach. So if you pledge money to a project and it successfully reaches its goal, you are a backer and if the project doesn’t hit its target, the funds that you pledged are returned to you.

I took a look out there and found 108 Bozeman-based projects listed on Kickstarter. Forty-six of them have been successfully funded, meaning that they reached or exceeded their campaign goal. This is about the Kickstarter historical average. Seven of the Bozeman projects are in the campaign stage including RightPSI, so if you want to jump on the bandwagon and help these guys out, you can still get in.

The plan is to be in production by early summer. First shipments are scheduled for late summer or early fall. RightPSI is an energetic enterprise with a big vision. It will be fun watching them grow.

About the Author(s)

Kathy Wojcik

Kathy Wojcik is a speaker, author and Bozeman-based business owner. Her company, Bluheron Coaching & Consulting focuses on positively impacting small business and organizational results by improving people performance. You can reach Kathy at 303-720-9262 or kathy@bluheroncoaching.com

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