Lean, Green and Mobile, Flexetail Delivers Retail With A High-Tech ExperienceJanuary 04, 2019 - By Michael Walsh
BOSTON–The Spring of 2018 was a bit of an “I knew it” moment for Joel Kamm, the Founder, CEO, and maybe more importantly, designer of Flexetail, a fleet of mobile, custom retail units which promise to deliver a unique brand experience for any product, to any destination.
“I was heading down the Mass Pike with Lucia [Kamm’s wife and business partner] just after Fenway near the Pru and my phone rang ... a woman was on the other end and asked, “Were you driving a retail store down the Mass Pike?” I said, yes that is me. She told me she almost caused an accident after she slowed down to get our name, then she Googled us to get the number, and she told me she loved the structure and the tiny house concept,” recalls Kamm.
It was at that moment that he was pretty sure he had something people were interested in. “She said, I’d love to meet with you ... my name is Jen Compton, I’m the VP of Innovation and brand for TD Garden,” extolled Kamm. A couple of weeks later Kamm had a meeting and signed a contract with the director of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics retail Pro Shop. “She said this is the perfect solution for our mobile retail,” he recounts. Over the next few months, Flexetail took to the road on assignments for the Boston Bruins Fan Fest Tour - which rolled in and out of nine towns, in all six New England states.
A veteran of industrial design for some of the world’s most successful retail brands, Kamm had the mobile retail vision in his mind for years. “I was working at Gillette and P&G in the mid-2000s… and I thought, with all the brand products we have, why don’t we own our own store, or have a better way to bring our products to market ... something other than tents or pop-ups to show brand strength.”
It was after his work at the 2012 Olympics that Kamm solidified his vision. “I was in charge of the experiential design for Gillette at the London Olympics and we created an interactive experience, bringing our products to the event, and creating truly unique brand connections,” said Kamm. His goal was to take an experiential concept and develop it to a mobile unit, but it was still a visionary concept.
“After P&G I was with New Balance, we built the first of many great in-store experiences but I kept thinking, how do we bring the products to places and allow people to have the experiences at events ... not always trying to bring them to us ... it was, for me a way to solve a pain point,” recounts Kamm. He started drawing and sketching his mobile retail vision in early 2017. “I wanted to build an MTR unit (he coins them mobile tiny retail) that could be driven with a Class A license, use a solar charging system, include technology, and allow it to be customized for any brand experience.”
The results of Kamm’s vision and meticulous details to his design are revolutionary. Each MTR is equipped with the latest in audio, visual, HVAC, engineered wood flooring and flexible shelving space for customization - acutely similar to a high-end retail store, yet all powered from roof-top solar panels and controlled inside the units - but invisible to the shopper.
“It’s all right inside here (Kamm lifts up what appears to be a sitting bench) the power comes through the panels and stores inside this battery ... people can’t believe that one battery can charge the unit for a whole day. We think of it as retail plug & play ... It’s leaner, faster and can get anywhere,” he proudly affirms.
The company is currently finishing the design of it’s third mobile unit - a process Kamm says that he continues to improve on through every iteration. “We continually push ourselves to make the next unit more efficient than the previous, lighter, better batteries ... we went from 10,000 pounds to 8,500 pounds, but still maintaining the strength ... they are getting more mobile efficient and cost-effective which is the goal.”
In just over a year, Flexetail has been employed and deployed for local retailers, developers, beverage companies, apparel brands, sports equipment, and non-profits.“Being completely customizable, we’re a perfect value for both start-ups and existing brands looking to engage customers wherever and whenever,” adds Kamm.
The Flexetail mobile units are complex in its architectural design, but Kamm insists it is in stark contrast to the company’s mantra. “Retail has changed. E-commerce may help sell products, but we want to let retailers and vendors do what they do simple and best ... they create brands and they need a valued way to bring the brands and experience to people and places ... so we built the mobile units to do that.”Joel Kamm at Flexetail Warehouse, Woburn MA Flexetail at work for Bruins Fan Fest Tour Interior of Flexetail For Local Maker