Ski wax startup in Fayetteville seeks funding from Kickstarter

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,050 views 

A Fayetteville startup launched a Kickstarter campaign hoping to bring to market a more eco-friendly and better performing ski wax.

Glide Nano, a spinoff company of University of Arkansas-affiliated SurfTec, launched the campaign Nov. 19. It runs until Dec. 11, and the company’s goal is to reach $10,000 in funding. As of Wednesday (Dec. 4), nearly $9,500 had been raised.

Dr. Sam Beckford heads up both companies. Using nanotechnology, Beckford said Glide Nano engineers have created ski wax bars without fluorocarbons, a hydrophobic material used to repel moisture.

Fluorocarbons are also bad for the environment, to the point that environmental agencies across the world are starting to restrict use of the material. Fluorinated ski wax, Beckford explained, is universally popular among skiers, but at a detrimental cost. The toxic chemicals quickly leave the ski board, going into the snow and eventually into drinking water.

“Fluorocarbons give [skis] that glide over the layer of water between skis and snow,” Beckford said. “We were able to get the same effect without using them. We’re trying to save the environment and give [skis] that same glide at the same time.”

Glide Nano ski wax, Beckford said, is non-toxic, 100% biodegradable and compliant with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. It gives boards 40% less friction on snow or ice and lasts five times longer.

Beckford earned his doctorate in micro-electronics and photonics in 2014 from the University of Arkansas. He co-founded SurfTec in 2015 with Dr. Min Zou, associate professor in the UA mechanical engineering department. The company has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

He said a random phone call from a ski enthusiast in Belgium trigged the creation of Glide Nano.

“He read one of my papers about reducing friction and reducing wear on surfaces,” Beckford said. “He was wondering if we could do something similar for ski waxes.”

Beckford said if the Kickstarter campaign is successful, Glide Nano ski wax will be available by the end of the year. He said he’s already had significant discussions about partnerships with at least one online retailer.

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