1-Year High And Rising

by Chris O’Leary / @olearychris

After a year of boosting basketball players’ hops, the guys behind Athletic Propulsion Labs are surprised by how quickly they’ve risen.

“We never thought it would take off this quickly,” Ryan Goldston says of the Concept 1 shoe that he and his brother Adam designed. “It seems like a blur almost. It’s been a great year and we’ve come a long ways.”

For those of you who don’t know, APL’s Concept 1 shoe is guaranteed to make you jump higher, thanks to its Load ‘N Launch technology. CounterKicks did a couple of extensive (like, ex-tensive) interviews with the Goldston brothers back in March of last year that you can check out here and here for a full catch-up on what the guys and their shoes are all about.

After having the shoes banned by the NBA due to giving its users an undue competitive advantage, the brothers said interest in APL skyrocketed. To let everyone enjoy their one-year anniversary, the guys have done two significant things. First, they’ve made a hot-looking all green version of the Concept 1 shoe available for sale. Second, in a move that’ll be happily welcomed by many, the shoes have substantially come down in price from their initial $300 US price tag to a new, permanent $195 mark.

I chatted with Adam and Ryan this weekend about the price drop, what the past year has been like for them and what they want to have on people’s feet a year from now (good news for you runners out there). Check it out.

SLAM: Have there been any surprises for you guys with the shoes this year?

Adam Goldston: I guess the NBA ban surprised us in the sense that overnight we went from a product that was really known in the sneaker community and the basketball community to a product that was known by the masses. It was surprising and cool to see how it was embraced and that it grew that quickly. We knew we had something special with the Load ‘N’ Launch technology, but it was pretty crazy to see how everything really changed overnight.

SLAM: It was a negative for you guys in a way, but at the same time, it sort of proved that your shoes do what you said they would.

Ryan Goldston: We try to look at everything as a positive. We had scientists to prove (the effectiveness of the shoes), but in terms of the outside and the masses, the NBA is the highest level of basketball in the world saying that people who wear the shoes get an unfair competitive advantage. That was probably what the public needed.

SLAM: Initially, you had said you wanted to sell strictly through your own site. Shortly after, you set up with retailers. How’d that come about?

AG: We had interest from retailers prior to the NBA ban, but after the NBA ban happened, we had an influx of inquiries from just about every retailer in the world.

At that point we were really trying to go with specific retailers. We didn’t want to oversaturate the product and that’s why you don’t see us in retail stores everywhere in the country. *Note: the APL shoes are available at select Foot Locker stores in the US and at the Times Square Modell’s in NYC. — CO.

We want steady growth and we want to maintain our brand image while still creating the best basketball products possible. It’s been great, we’ve had some great retailers. Our initial plan when we started this company was to sell exclusively online but at the same time we realized we wanted to get our shoes out to as many people as possible.

SLAM: And now you’ve had the price drop, and it’s pretty significant. Is that a thank-you to fans of the shoe? What was the thinking there?

RG: We’ve had inquiries and emails from customers around the world. One of the things that a lot of people said was that they loved the shoes and they saw the comments (at SLAMonline) and other sites as well and they talked about how it was a great shoe, great technology, but they couldn’t afford the $300 price point.

Now we’re reaching a critical mass and that was one of the reasons why we dropped the price. It’s a permanent price drop on the Concept 1; it’s not a permanent price drop for Athletic Propulsion Labs. Compare it to Apple. When Apple drops the price of their iPhone, it’s not necessarily that they’re dropping the prices across their whole product lines from here on out. It’s that they’ve reached a certain point on the iPhone where the price has dropped.

Also, we started selling the shoes March 24, 2010 and we’ve been very fortunate that these shoes have sold very well and we thought that it was time (to lower the cost). What better way than with a one-year anniversary and with the introduction of the green shoe which, I mean, has an incredible amount of interest from consumers nationwide.

SLAM: It’s definitely a cool looking shoe. You had said to CounterKicks a while back that you wanted to drop this colorway on a special occasion. Were you just sitting on it for this?

RG: That was one of the initial colors that we came up with and sampled and we wanted to make sure we used it for a special event or to commemorate something.  We used it for our anniversary because the primary colors of APL are black, white and green. We were excited to release it because every time we wore that shoe somewhere, to a game or to a movie, people said they liked those shoes, and asked us why we didn’t release that color. We wanted to do it for something special.

AG: We also keep our ears to the blogs and we saw that a lot of people loved an all-green shoe. We already had the shoe done for months and months. We knew that if we were trying to do something special for APL that this would be an awesome time to introduce the shoe.

SLAM: Where do you guys want to be a year from now?

RG: Our goal is to continue to have good growth and we’d like to have a bigger place in the basketball market and also the running market. We’re introducing a running shoe next year. We just want to continue to have growth. We have a lot of exciting stuff planned for the summer and for next basketball season. I think that we’re definitely on the right path and we’re making faster progress than we thought we would.

AG: When we created the company we never would have expected it to take off as fast as it has. We want to grow in a rapid way that we’re comfortable with. Probably we’ll look for more retailers and international shipping and just continue to raise our status and products in the market.

SLAM: Do you have a set date on the running shoe?

AG: We’re shooting for late summer, early fall. It looks like it’ll be along the lines of fall. We’ll be introducing a men’s and women’s running shoe and it’ll be designed to make you run faster.

For our brand … our goal is we won’t enter into a market unless we can provide improvements in performance. Consumers aren’t waiting on the next good looking product because Nike, adidas, Reebok, Under Armour, all those brands and many more make wonderful products and make great looking products too. (Consumers) are waiting for something that increases their performance and therefore we feel like that’s really our niche.

SLAM: In terms of feedback, do you have any success stories that stick with you?

AG: The one I have that was awesome to me, was this one kid, I believe he was in the 11th grade. Last year he was a sophomore and he played on the JV basketball team.

He purchased our shoes before basketball tryouts and he was relatively athletic before. He couldn’t dunk the ball but he could get above the rim. He had our shoes and he had a fast break in basketball tryouts, the last day of tryouts and he ended up dunking the ball on the fast break and ended up making the varsity team because of it.

That one was pretty awesome to me. I love when people tell us, ‘I got my first dunk, I was never able to dunk before and now I can because of your shoes.’ That’s kind of exciting to me because I remember when I got my first dunk and it was the greatest day of my life. So knowing that we can help people get that experience is really, really cool for me.

RG: This personally is my favorite story. This is one of the first stories we heard. This one kid who had purchased our shoes played in a competitive high school league. He was a good player, not great, according to him. He bought our shoes and could not dunk a ball. Couldn’t dunk. He wore our shoes in a game, this is the first time he wore them and that game he had 49 points and had four in-game dunks.

It’s great when we get the stories and emails and thank-you letters from people saying, ‘I dunked in your shoes for the first time.’ But there’s a huge difference between dunking a ball and having an in-game dunk. This kid said he couldn’t dunk before and then to have four in-game dunks and 49 points … that’s incredible.

He said that our shoes are absolutely unbelievable and he wore them from there on out and won’t play in any other shoe now. Hearing stuff like that is pretty incredible. From a personal standpoint, I had reconstructive ankle surgery and after I got the surgery I lost a lot of my explosiveness. I could still get the rim and maybe a bit higher, but with our shoes I can dunk again.

For me personally, it’s changed me also, because I couldn’t dunk before these shoes, I couldn’t dunk anymore. I really lost my explosiveness.

SLAM: Do you have to be somewhat close to dunking before you get the shoes?

AG: Everyone has different results with the shoes. We’ve seen guys do some pretty incredible things with the shoes that were explosive athletes to begin with. For example, one guy that we knew bought our shoes and he could dunk pretty easily before, but he wasn’t really doing anything fancy. He couldn’t dunk off two feet with two hands and with our shoes he was throwing one-step dunks, like two-hand tomahawking it.

For someone like him, it literally completely changed and he was getting an incredible amount of inches. Then again, there are other people that (could) get one or two inches. It’s different for every single person. To say that there’s a set limit to how close you can get, to see if there’s a difference between dunking and not dunking, we can’t put a quantative number on that, but I will tell you that I myself was close but I wasn’t that close. And with the shoes I was definitely dunking with ease.

Without the shoes on, it wasn’t like I was rimming it in and out. I wasn’t that close. Now, I’m dunking it with ease. It was a big difference with me, whereas other people, they gain two inches. It’s different for everyone. The one common thing has been that the shoes do help you jump higher instantly.

SLAM: And I guess aside from dunking it can help you in other aspects of the game. You could get more rebounds, maybe you’ll block more shots.

RG: A lot of people that we play with, it really helps them with things like getting a shot off against a really tough defender. It helps with typical fundamental aspects of the game as well. You’re also able to jump higher with less energy, so your legs will stay fresher for a long time.

Pics courtesy of CounterKicks.