Cutting Edge Smart Sabers: An Interview with Electrum Sabercrafts Founders Dave Benard and Curtis Bennett
Electrum Sabercrafts founders Dave Benard and Curtis Bennett don’t want to follow, they want to lead. That’s why the custom saber manufacturer developed groundbreaking Smart Saber™ technology, which allows users to customize lightsaber settings through their smartphones. That’s also why all Electrum Sabercrafts hilt models utilize distinctive touch switches rather than AV switches.
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Since the company’s launch in 2016, Electrum Sabercrafts has released five Smart Saber™ models: Aegis, Errant, Evo-Flex, Remnant and Torrent. Additional designs and technologies are in development.
SaberSourcing interviewed Electrum Sabercrafts founders Dave Benard and Curtis Bennett about their innovative, Canada-based Smart Saber™ company.
How did you decide to start Electrum Sabercrafts?
Dave – For me, I’ve always been interested in prop building and especially lightsabers. I already had a decent sized collection from a few companies. Working with Curtis on some repairs got us talking about what we would do if we designed them, which eventually lead to: why don’t we build them?
Curtis – I like to build stuff. After repairing a sound board for one of Dave’s friends, I was like “We can build this, but can we make money?”
How did you decide to create a Smart Saber? Can you describe your process behind developing the Electrum Unity App?
Dave – When we formed Electrum we wanted to stand out and do something new and exciting. We had already decided that our focus would be to deliver premium, top of the line sabers loaded with all the bells and whistles in an affordable package. Curtis suggested the idea originally: we wanted to make the customer experience faster, more dynamic, and easier than ever before. It took a lot of testing, prototyping, and late nights, but it’s something we’re very proud of and we love that the Smart Saber is our claim to fame.
Curtis – Like I have said in the past, I am not your typical saber community guy. I look at things differently. When Dave first told me how settings were changed on other Sabers the idea was obvious. It needed an App. But making an app is not that easy, you actually have to create 2: one for Apple and one for Android, and they are each in their own language.
Keeping all design in house for us is key which means we do not rely on any outside sources. We did not just design the App to work with our saber, they are designed to work with each other. This is a big deal in design for me. At each stage of the App we tested and added new features that would add to the user experience. Making it simple was task #1. Taking an idea and seeing it through took a long time with a lot of iterations but in the end sets us apart from all others. This is just the beginning for us, We have a lot more in store!
Can you describe the most challenging and rewarding parts about running Electrum Sabercrafts?
Dave – I find the best aspect of the business is the delivery of sabers themselves; I love seeing people get excited about something we put a lot of heart and soul into. As a designer, I love coming up with something that feels unique, but still fits into the vision of the universe.
Curtis – I like Dave’s answer, it is awesome seeing excited people use something you built and tell you it’s awesome. There really is no better feeling. The challenging part of any business is working with others, that’s any business. Dave is awesome but we do butt heads because we come at solutions from different angles. I’m the outsider in this industry and Dave has been immersed in it for years. But in the end that’s why we come up with great product.
How did you decide to use touch switches on your lightsabers rather than more common switches, like AV switches?
Dave – We wanted something that set us apart from others. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of AV switches: they feel out of universe to me. I’d rather see a knob of some sort on traditional sabers, for instance. Curtis originally had the idea of doing a touch sensitive plate, but upon looking at some Original Trilogy sabers, we came to the realization that a functioning control plate, like on the graflex [lightsaber], would be the perfect fit.
Curtis – I don’t like doing what other people do. Not just in Sabers but other work as well. It was a cool idea that we could make work. It was one of our first ideas on how to differentiate ourselves from everyone else.
How did Electrum Sabercrafts become involved in the lightsaber dueling organization, The Saber Legion (TSL)?
Dave – I had a pre-established relationship with TSL as both their web developer and as the rep for the Alberta Charter. As such, when we started Electrum, making something that could stand up to the rigorous use they put their sabers through was something we always had in mind.
Curtis – That was all Dave. Like I said he’s been around for a long time.
Electrum Sabercrafts built a gorgeous, custom Gold Aegis Saberstaff for the grand
prize of TSL III’s Exotic Saber bracket. Currently, though, only standard, single-bladed lightsabers are available for purchase in the store. Any plans to release saber staffs, crossguards or other exotic lightsabers?
Dave – This is something we just addressed, actually! Couplers are now available for most sabers, with some crazy exotic designs coming down the line too. I’m a big Darth Maul fan, so making a saberstaff was always a dream for me!
Curtis – Dave summed it up nicely. But I would have just said, “Done!”
How does your company plan to address the neopixel lightsaber trend?
Dave – We’ve been working extensively on pixel tech and some other industry changing designs. At Electrum, we aren’t interested in simply copying what others do. We want to put our own flair into it, and you’ll see some ground breaking tech from us very soon that I think a lot of people are clamoring for, and some stuff they might not have even thought they needed!
Curtis – We realize we are a little late to this. I have a background in batteries as well so when this trend first started I discussed it with Dave and the battery life would just not be there. Yes there are bigger batteries but you still won’t get the life that you can with in hilt led. That being said we have been working on it for a while now.
What advice would you give to someone considering buying their very first custom lightsaber?
Dave – Do your research! There are a lot of options for sabers, and companies that offer premium level sabers for a great price (us included!). Also, it’s one thing to buy a saber, and another to get support and help with it. Customer service is very important for this community, which is why it is at the core of everything we do.
Curtis – Stop searching, buy an Electrum!
Can you describe a funny or unusual encounter with a fan?
Dave – Some of my favourite interactions with customers are at conventions. That look they get when they fire up a saber for the first time, and then the look they get when we tell them you can fight with them, really reaffirms my love for this business. The best part is living out the sense of adventure in all of us. Specifically? One guy at a con reacted like I described, but dialed to 11. On the floor, losing his mind. He makes me smile to this day.
Curtis – people at cons are awesome. You get some pretty crazy reactions.
What’s your favorite lightsaber from Star Wars Canon or Legends and why?
Dave – Darth Maul or Obi-Wan’s from [Star Wars: A New Hope]. I love the saberstaff look, and it’s such a menacing design. Obi-Wan’s on the other hand is intricate and well used, and I love the brass accents. It’s a big inspiration for the Remnant!
Curtis – I have always been a Dooku fan. I just like curved Sabers, they’re cool.
What’s next for you?
Dave – We’re working on new hilt designs and, most importantly, Diatium3 [D3], our next iteration of our saber tech. I can’t say too much about it, but I’m confident it’ll blow everyone’s minds when they see what we’ve packed in there.
Curtis – Sell the company and drink margaritas on the beach. Just kidding, D3 is going to be huge. We don’t like to follow. We like to lead, less dust in your face. 🙂
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