In July 2016 both SinkerLock and LureLock were introduced to the US Market at the ICAST Trade Fair, ICAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show, is the premier showcase for the latest innovations in fishing gear, accessories and apparel. ICAST is the cornerstone of the sportfishing industry, helping to drive recreational fishing product sales year round.
The interest was overwhelming and Darren returned to New Zealand with the biggest problem a new business could have – how to fill all the orders that had been generated.
The first people who came up to me were a nicely-dressed Japanese couple in suits. I gave them a quick demonstration and the guy said 'I'd like to order what's in the cabinets and 400 loose ones.' I said 'that's $1000.'"
By the end of the three-day convention he had the market hooked, with 400 orders, a sponsorship offer from the American NFL and exclusive deals to stock over 7000 stores across the U.S, Mexico and United Arab Emirates.
This guy wants to write me a blank cheque and I'm having to push him off to talk to another one.
SinkerLocks and LureLocks seemed to have filled a gap in recreational fishing markets everywhere.
Now his factory in China is working 24/7, producing SinkerLocks and LureLocks in eight colours and glow-in-the-dark variety.
"A sinker had swung around and hit me in the back of the head and of course I leaned forward and the hook got me in the back of the shoulder. I stole some of my partner's hair clips and started playing around with some playdough."
Even through the unwavering support of his friends and early success with a government grant and online crowdfunding effort, Hodgson said there were times he wanted to give up on the business.
"I had to sell my Harley Davidson [motorcycle] to do it. I was crying and my partner said 'what's wrong?' and I said 'yesterday I had a Harley and today I have plastic clips.'"
He said it was a giant relief to see his $47,000 investment to attend ICAST pay off after encountering multiple travel disasters. Now it is a matter of filling all the orders we have, the fun has just begun.
"It's really humbling," he said. "It's been a hell of a ride and it's only just beginning."