Interview with Athletic Propulsion Labs Founders
Adam and Ryan Goldston introduce themselves.
CK: How does the Load ‘N Launch technology know or differentiate between an intended vertical leap and, say, hard running or sharp cuts on court where the athlete might not want that added upward boost?
A. Goldston: I’m actually happy you asked this question because it makes me feel like you really understand our technology. A lot of people ask me that question and they don’t really know how to phrase that question or will say, “Does it really work?” or “Won’t you always feel like you’re walking on a diving board?” When you differentiate between cuts and the actual vertical leap, that makes me feel like you really understand it.
The Load ‘N Launch technology is engineered to respond to direct downward pressure which releases as the athlete rises off the ground. It doesn’t respond to horizontal cuts or things of that nature because when a player makes a hard cut on the court, they’re not engaging the load phase and therefore they do not experience the launch phase. Our device works in two phases. You have to load it, which comes from direct downward pressure – it doesn’t come from lateral or side pressure – you have to put direct pressure on the device to make it release and give you the launch. Once you load it and then you launch is when you get the bounce up and you have to put your complete forefoot down on the device. And usually when you make a cut in basketball, it’s usually on the inward part of your first metatarsal or big toe and so you don’t put enough pressure on the Load ‘N Launch technology to make it engage so you really don’t have to worry about it. Even though you do feel a bounce when you’re playing, it’s a positive bounce, it’s not an unstable bounce.
Imagine you were riding a bike and someone was pushing you on your back to make you go faster, that’s what it feels like when you’re playing basketball in the Concept 1 and you’re not engaging the device. It just feels like you have an extra bounce in your step. It’s actually a great feeling and everyone that has tested our shoes has pointed out that they feel like they have almost twice as much energy, they say, because they have so much more explosion in their steps, even when the device isn’t engaged. Just playing in the shoes and having the device there makes everyone feel more confident.
CK: From the people who have wear tested the Concept 1 so far, do you have maybe an average measurement of the added extra vertical you would receive from the shoe?
R. Goldston: Everyone that’s worn the shoes has jumped higher. One of the main things that we’ve noticed and they’ve noticed is the more and more you wear the shoes, the more used to you get to the jumping motion that’s necessary for the shoes to fully propel yourself up. So it’s one of those things where over time you’re almost steadily increasing the vertical from it while wearing the shoes, of course. There’s been people who have gotten as high as 3.5 to 4 inches. And there’s times when Adam puts on the shoes where he gets as high as 5 inches. There’s an exit sign at the gym we both work out at constantly that looks like it’s gotta be at least 11 feet. Before Adam had APL’s on, he couldn’t come close to touching it but after constantly wearing the shoes and getting used to the jumping process and how the technology works, he can with ease touch the sign whenever he wants now. We’ve seen those kinds of results with the people that have worn the shoes. The longer they wear the shoes, the more used to they get to the technology, the better the Load ‘N Launch technology works and the more it propels you up.
A. Goldston: Yeah, I’m barely 6 feet tall, if I’m lucky.
CK: Have you had any thought about “tuning” the Load ‘N Launch technology perhaps for different shoe models so that you can increase the boost of the vertical leap? Like if you wanted to create a shoe with double the propulsion for someone that specifically wants to dunk in the shoes that can’t otherwise.
A. Goldston: The device can do that, and we have the potential to do that I believe, but I don’t think we’ll be going there anytime soon. The device that we created for the Load ‘N Launch technology, the one that will be releasing, is the staple of our product line so I think we want to try to keep it steady and always use the same device. We can’t see into the future but as for right now, the only device we’ll be promoting for the basketball line is the Load ‘N Launch technology that’s releasing right now.
CK: How did the overall shoe design and technology come together? How was it designed and who was all involved in that?
R. Goldston: As we mentioned before, we’ve been around the footwear industry for a long time. We’ve had the benefit of meeting and talking to tons of people that our dad has worked with. So, the way we got in touch with one of the designers was through a previous relationship. His name is Tuan Le who runs Breitenbush Design [and was the original creator of the And1 Tai Chi, among his publicly known footwear designs]. Once we met Tuan, we explained the mission of the company and what we hoped to accomplish with the Concept 1. As soon as we told him about it, his mind started racing and he was just throwing designs at us left and right. In fact, the way Tuan creates his designs is all by hand. He doesn’t use the computer. So every time we wanted to make a subtle change, Tuan re-did the whole drawing which was pretty incredible.
Once we did that, we eventually came to a few different designs that we were set on and then went through the sample process. From there, Adam and I made our own tweaks to the design. We added a couple things you see on the shoe such as the green piping and the translucent outsole. And then we wanted to make sure that the Load ‘N Launch technology would really fit in with the shoe and make you jump higher. That took many rounds to get the propulsion mechanism and the materials used in the device to the point where it was ideally suited to increase the vertical leap on indoor and outdoor basketball courts. Once we had created a device that was delivering an instant increase, that’s when we really started to look at the materials for the shoe, from the carbon fiber on it to the rebound EVA midsole, to the crystal rubber outsole. It was things like that which we started to do at the end, but we really started at the beginning with just brainstorming a bunch of different designs and explaining the things that really attracted Adam and I to the industry and to the designs and materials that we liked. We showed Tuan the Pagani Zonda and the Koenigsegg CCXR and we showed him how we loved the carbon fiber ones which were the super expensive, super exclusive ones, and we made it clear that that was how we wanted the imagery of our company to look. And once we really got a shoe that we believed embodied that imagery, that’s when we created our production model.
CK: When exactly did initial work on the Concept 1 shoe begin?
A. Goldston: We had to do the device first. The device was the thing that took the majority of the time the first two years. Then around last March is when the APL Concept 1 basketball shoe went into development. So I would say roughly a year. The design phase was intense and the engineering requirements for Concept 1 were unlike virtually any other development process for a basketball shoe. The Load ‘N Launch device is so critical to the overall construction and performance of the shoe so the combination of a performance last, high tech materials, and vertical leap improvement generated the APL Concept 1 shoe and that’s what makes the shoe so different from anything else. Incorporating all of those different things into one is what made it so difficult so if we wouldn’t have had the Load ‘N Launch technology developed first and the way we wanted to implement it, I don’t even know how long it would have taken us to come up with Concept 1. It was so hard to design the shoe around the device because most of the time when you think about shoe technology, it’s something that’s relatively thin in the heel or something like that, so our technology being a predominant force in the forefoot is what made the shoe hard to design for. But it’s also what makes our shoe different from any other basketball shoe.
CK: How long ago did the Load ‘N Launch technology start to develop?
A. Goldston: The concept for the technology started roughly a year prior to when the designs were generated. So around March 2008. But the actual technology itself started to generate around March 2009 and that’s when all the design concepts for the actual uppers and everything started to come together. From that point we’ve gone on and changed certain aspects of it but that’s really when we started the process of getting in the working prototypes that we could use and test and evaluate.
CK: How long did it take to get to the final production version of the Concept 1? And how long have people been wear testing the shoe for to date?
A. Goldston: You know, the wear testing process has gone on for quite a few months. I’d say it’s been roughly 8-10 months that we’ve been wear testing the shoes and evaluating everything. It’s really picked up within the past 6 months in terms of wear testing and constantly getting new samples, fine tuning the uppers, fine tuning the technology, that’s when it really picked up because we made some substantial changes to the upper. We made it much more supportive and a higher performing shoe. And so we wanted to see how it worked with different sockliners, different linings, different materials. We were using all types of different forms of materials to really see what would give the consumer the best performing shoe and the best looking shoe. So, within the past 6-7 months it’s really, really picked up. We’ve been having people wear test the shoes since then on a pretty regular basis with a bunch of different results coming from it.
R. Goldston: And the best part is that from every single sample run, we had better and better results. If you look at the results from the first sample run to our last confirmation sample testing, the results are unbelievable how much better they are because our shoes just continually became so much better and now it’s not comparable to any other shoe on the market.