November 2, 2004 Scuba-Doo International is set to release a suite of products around its new Scuba-Doo underwater scooter. The completely redesigned underwater scooter is now part of a complete range of marine leisure craft that create turnkey marine leisure businesses including the Diver-Doo mobile launching and diving pontoon, the Adventure-Doo boat with underwater glass viewing area and a beach launching platform that enables the Scuba-Doo to be launched by one person.
The new Adventure-Doo is a glass-bottomed boat with an underwater glass viewing area. Available in two versions that are able to carry a captain and either four or six passengers respectively, the Adventure-Doo comes with an optional, detachable air-operated lift capable of carrying and launching two Scuba-Doos.
The Adventure-Doo retails for US$48,000 ($46,000 for the four passenger version), with the detachable platform adding US$2000 and of course you'll need two Scuba-Doos with that, so add another US$17,000 each.
The US$120,000 Diver-Doo is a mobile launching and diving pontoon. The Diver-Doo is 12 metres long and four metres wide, holds 15 Scuba-Doo s and can launch or recover six Scuba-Doo s at a time, while doubling as a normal dive platform.
The Diver-Doo is totally self-sufficient, with its own compressor, battery charger and generator, toilets and is designed as a turnkey business solution for dive operators.
The most exciting for the public is the beach launcher, a US$480 two-wheeled device that enables a Scuba-Doo to be launched almost anywhere by one person.
The unveiling of the original Scuba-Doo was the most popular story at Gizmag's web site during 2003 and generated what Scuba-Doo CEO John Dawson described as "a massive global response" to the product.
Not content with the massive worldwide interest generated in the product from its initial showing, the company headed by Australian United Finance boss John Dawson decided to repackage the concept to offer a suite of solutions surrounding the Scuba-Doo, ranging from high-tech toy through to a turnkey business for resorts and dive operators.
"While there was a healthy market for the Scuba-Doo as a boys toy recreational vehicle, there was so much interest in the Scuba-Doo from dive resorts and hire companies in exotic locations that we felt it was better to wait and put together the most compelling offering for this important market," said Scuba-Doo CEO Dawson.
"As we spoke with companies from around the globe, the vast majority want a turn-key solution and so we decided to take the time to design and build a cohesive suite of products for the marine leisure industry."
"We had enquiries from everywhere you can imagine - places like the Maldives, Malaysia, the Caribbean, Mexico, the Philippines, indeed, island resorts across Asia."
"Basically, I think we had enquiries from almost anywhere there's warm clear water," said Dawson.
"It added nine months to our original production forecast but sometimes you need to take a step back to take two steps forward and we're confident we have a very compelling product offering for a wide range of leisure operators now."
Scuba-Doo partner and R&D and Quality Control head Tony McKenna feels the extra time was well spent. "We used the time wisely in reinventing the wheel and coming up with a better looking, more user friendly version of the Scuba-Doo ," said McKenna. "The Scuba-Doo 's new-look air intake is now fed by its own towed compressor, eliminating the use of an air tank for breathing purposes. This is ideal for the hire industry, as it means operators don't need to fill air tanks as often. The towed compressor option adds US$2500 to the US$14,500 price."
"The additional time also gave us the opportunity to refine the Scuba-Doo in a host of ways, and the new Scuba-Doo handles much better than the old one. It's now much more controllable - you can raise it a foot in the water or lower it and it does exactly what you want it to do," said McKenna. "It also has a flip top so that a rider doesn't need to put their head under the water at any stage. With the original model the first thing a rider had to do was put their head under the water. It isn't a problem for divers, but it is for some people going diving for the first time."
Scuba (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) is an acronym we usually associate with face-masks, breathing tubes and back-mounted tanks, but the Scuba-Doo opens a new dimension of underwater exploration by combining a breathing dome that covers the head and shoulders with a highly-maneuverable, motorised underwater scooter.
The obvious advantage of the ingenious design is the enclosed head area - the need for a mask or mouthpiece is eliminated by the constant replenishment of air into the clear dome that enables normal breathing. There's also no need to wear weight-belts or an air tank.
Add the ability to cruise at a rate of 2.5 knots, or remain stationary while feeding the fish and you have a unique underwater experience open to a wider range of people than conventional diving - those who are not strong swimmers or who have minor disabilities can still ride the bike and you can wear your spectacles or contact lenses without difficulty.
"The major advantages the Scuba-Doo offers over any other underwater vehicle is that it can be used almost immediately by an unqualified or inexperienced diver with supervision", said Dawson. "The rider doesn't need a mouthpiece or mask and as such is a great tool for an introduction to a full dive course."
"We recommend one qualified diving instructor to no more than three Scuba-Doos in a hire environment", he said.
"We have also completed a second production facility in Malaysia where we will manufacture Scuba-Doo 's with both internal and external breathing options and we are now ready for full production in both our Australian and Malaysian factories," said McKenna.
"Most importantly, we are producing a high quality product from both locations, and we now have the production capacity to supply the market as it grows," said McKenna.
"The Scuba-Doo will be marketed internationally by the Scuba-Doo International (Malaysia) SDN BHD that is situated in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia," said Dawson.
"We have international distribution settled in several locations, and can announce we have reached agreement for sole distribution covering Africa and surrounding Islands, Egypt, and Isreal.
"All our international distribution will be done through licenses and we're now in the process of looking for the right agents all over the world but we'll still deal directly with resorts and hire operators until a master distributor is appointed in their territory.
"The potential of the Scuba-Doo as a business is incredible. Currently we have operators hiring the Scuba-Doo at $130 per 15 minutes - the queues are long and the Scuba-Doo s run all day every day. As a hire operation or as an adjunct to an existing dive operation, they are a very good business.
"The prices I am quoting are recommended retail prices. We have a three tiered pricing structure, with List, Wholesale and retail pricing, in order for our International licencees to set up their own distributor network."
And given that three products have evolved from concept to manufacture in nine months, what's next for Scuba-Doo ? "I have the next Scuba-Doo model in my head and it's some way off at the moment. We also have a version coming that will be ideal for disabled people to use. We're committed to increasing our product range in the Aqua Leisure area and there will be a lot more exciting products as time goes by.
"Right now, we're pretty excited about the immediate prospects for building an international distribution and enabling everyone to try a Scuba-Doo , wherever they might live."
John Dawson can be contacted via the Scuba-Doo world web site.