Editor’s Note: Muamer Razic stops by Sweet Sweet Lax and he has an interview with Karmada Lacrosse, the newest lax company to date. They have an interesting concept and mission and are starting out with shafts only. Muamer asks some interesting questions, and some tough ones. It’s a good interview!
First things first, how did you come up with the name “Karmada Lacrosse”?
We were trying to find something that could mean a group of people doing good (in our case, lacrosse players giving through Kiva)… and we ended up combining “karma” and “armada.” We then embedded an “X” in our logo to represent the $10 we loan through Kiva for every shaft sold.
How was working with True Temper to develop your shafts?
They’re great… for years, manufacturers have been bringing some pretty weak sauce when it comes to composites because it was too expensive to do it right. True Temper has the money to do it right and they’re the first to prove their shafts are better through both lab & field testing.
Notice the added layer of paint towards the top and bottom of the shaft to add to the “fade”. The extra later also makes it feel like there is a little more grip where your hands are placed!
Do you see yourself working with them in the future to make even better shafts?
Absolutely. It costs us a lot more to work with True Temper, but they’re worth every penny. They have a great combination of lacrosse players and “lab nerds” with whom we get to work and do some pretty cool stuff.
How does your “18 month, love it or leave it” warranty compare to the warranties that other lacrosse companies offer on their shafts? What makes it better? Different?
I’m amazed most companies charging $100-250 for a shaft only offer a 6 month warranty. If you pay for a premium shaft, you should get a premium shaft and peace of mind that your money was spent well. Karmada offers an 18 month warranty on all shafts, because we’ve tested them and know they’ll perform. We also offer our “love it or leave it” guarantee. If for any reason, you don’t love your Karmada shaft, just send it back within 10 days and get your money back.
For every shaft you sell you donate $10 to Kiva.org, which is phenomenal. It’s great to see companies giving back, what made you decide to donate a portion of your proceeds to them?
We chose Kiva because they offer a real solution to poverty… we loan money through Kiva and help people start or grow their own small business to provide for their family. Our first loan went to a young woman in Rwanda to help grow her small clothing business.
Your shafts test out to be “more than 3 times the strength of titanium shafts, and weigh less.” How does this compare to high end shafts produced by other companies (Sci-Ti, Titan Pro, etc.)?
True Temper is very protective about us naming which shafts were tested because they work with some of the companies on other projects. So I’ll just say this… competitor’s top end shafts, including the most popular shafts used at the DI level were tested. The best any competitor did was test out around 1/3 the strength of our shafts.
What was the inspiration behind starting up Karmada Lacrosse?
I’ve always been inspired by companies like Patagonia & TOMS Shoes that use business to make a positive impact in the world. We’re simply following their lead and trying to live up to our tagline… “better shafts, making a difference.”
Everyone knows LAS loves to Grow The Game, what kind of reputation do you think Karmada has/will have in that arena?
I’ve been coaching high school lacrosse for the past 10 years at three different schools, all of which were new start-ups, so growing the game is a big deal for me personally.
With Karmada, we want to build a reputation for helping projects that focus on more than just lacrosse. I visited Africa last summer and was both amazed by its beauty and saddened by its struggles, so a likely first step for us is working with the groups currently growing the game in Africa. We would love to see African nations at the World Championships with Karmada shafts.
From one side of the globe to the other! What’s the lacrosse scene like in Seattle?
At the high school level, there are a few teams that are infinitely better than everyone else, but that’s changing. In just our second year, and thanks to a ton of parent support, the high school program I’m now coaching will field 3 teams and we have too many kids in our feeder programs to find fields for… it’s a great problem to have.
The talent gap between East Coast lacrosse and everywhere else is shrinking fast and I think it will be gone in the next 10 years. East Coast kids aren’t born with more talent, they develop it through years of experience. With 5 year old kids playing across the country now, it is only a matter of time.
Is Karmada involved with the local lacrosse scene in Seattle? If so, how? Or how do you plan to be?
Yes… Personally, I’m on the Development Committee for Seattle Metro Youth Lacrosse, which focuses on growing the game in communities where financial constraints are a challenge. How Karmada fits in, beyond my volunteer time, remains to be seen since new programs don’t need high end composite shafts, but we’re open to anything we can do to help.
You guys only have 2 shafts available right now (S-Thirty, and D-Sixty), is there any plan to release a new shaft any time soon?
Yes. We’re currently testing prototypes for both goalie and women’s shafts. Look for these to be out next summer.
12. Is it possible to see KL get into the making some lacrosse gear? Or will you focus specifically on shafts?
Not likely on the new gear front. Lots of companies start by doing one thing really well and slip when they get into other fields. If we produce something, it has to be measurably better than the competition; and our shafts are, but I don’t know how we would make gloves or pads that were. So for now, we only plan to produce shafts.
13. You reward people who help grow your company, I LOVE THAT. Care to explain where this great idea came from and how it works? Do you think other companies will startup programs like this?
We didn’t want to do traditional advertising because for us, ads don’t have any credibility. If ads told the truth, you could get the hottest girls just by wearing the right lacrosse gloves. People have more credibility, so we reward people who spread the word… get 3 friends to buy a shaft and we’ll give you a $50 gift card to places like Lax World, REI, Best Buy and more… get 5 friends to buy, get a $100 gift card. It’s simple, just register at karmadalacrosse.com and start telling friends. I’m not sure if others will be able to follow our lead on this. We can offer Karmada Rewards because we’re small and sell direct; it would be hard for a big company to do because they would end up competing against their own retailers.
What are the plans for Karmada Lacrosse’s future? Where will it be in the next 5 years?
Our mission is to create the best lacrosse shafts on the planet while making a positive difference in the world. We like being a small niche company, so our 5 year goals are simple… stay on the forefront of shaft technology and increase the amount of money we lend through Kiva to help people in need.
It seems that more and more companies are going to composite lacrosse shafts, why do you think that is? What made KL decide on composite shafts instead of another type?
When done right, composites outperform alloys. Karmada and other small start-up lacrosse companies are taking advantage of newly accessible superior technology, but it’s harder for the big players to switch over because they can mass produce alloy shafts cheaper and sell them for the same price.
True Temper makes shafts for SO many companies: STX, 1Lacrosse, Karmada, etc. And somehow, every company says that their True Tempers are the best. So who is telling the truth here? Is it reasonable to think that a Karmada shaft is stronger than every composite TT makes and 1/3 lighter?
We all could be telling the truth… I know we are! At Karmada, we work with the highest performing technology True Temper offers. This costs a lot more, but insures we live up to what we’re saying.
Every company’s deal with True Temper is confidential, so we don’t know what others are using; they may be choosing the top technology, resulting in the same high performance. If that’s the case, we hope our story of giving to help people in need will influence players to buy from us.