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An Open Letter to Skier Entrepreneurs: Fix Problems, Don’t Create New Ones

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

Dear Skier Entrepreneurs,

I get it, you want to be involved in a start up. You want to build something, cut ties with employeeship and start on the path of be-your-own-boss-hood.

And what better place to start than skiing? Everyone says to “follow your passion” and you love the snow – a match made in heaven.

Right?

Before you “jump in with both feet”, take a step back and first ask yourself what problem you are solving. If the answer is a sly, Steve Job-esque, “skiers don’t even know they have this problem…yet”, please, please, please reconsider.

When the White Cupboard Inn revved up that Model-T-powered rope tow in 1934, they were solving a problem: hiking up the hill took a long time and a lot of effort. Then, resorts couldn’t guarantee snow conditions or season length for their guests until snowmaking came along.

Today, there are so many problems that need to be solved – stagnant skier visits, the cost of skiing, loss of baby boomers from the sport, insurance costs, knee injuries, global warming, small ski areas closing, competing vacation alternatives, etc. – that there’s little value (except to your own bank account) in creating, and solving, new ones.

When Liftopia launched CloudStores, they were solving a problem: outdated, poorly converting ecommerce platforms and distribution.

There has never been a reliable way to get a powder forecast for local mountains but Joel Gratz is solving that.

Resorts have much to share but are scattered in small numbers across the country. NSAA and SAM Magazine bring those ideas and practices together.

Valuable resort data is often siloed and innaccessible: Corey Ryan is tackling that, something I’m lucky to have been invited to be part of.

You know how the classic entrepreneur’s mantra is to dream big?

Do it!

Dream beyond a nifty app that you might be able to suck some ad revenue out of.
Dream beyond a t-shirt with a catchy ski-phrase screenprinted on the front.
Dream beyond another website where the exit strategy is the monetization path.

Dream up a BIG solution to a BIG problem.

That’s what I’m pleading for. Use your creativity, your drive, you never-say-die attitude to tackle one of the industry’s hairiest challenges.

New ski companies are born every month. Outwear brands are everywhere. More run tracking apps will pop up every season. We already have those, we need solutions that can help our industry thrive and you can be the one to make that happen.

Do that and the success you are yearning for will follow. I promise.

Sincerely,

Gregg Blanchard



  • The problem I hope someone solves soon is to reduce the “suck” of the user experience for either booking a room, or buying a lift ticket online (AKA.. THE CONVERSION).

    Case in point is Snowbird. They just launched a sweet new site. Wow. Fresh eye-popping interface draws me in, but when I’m ready to roll (ie… the Conversion… ie… the Money) I’m sent to they typical crappy interface that universally plagues this entire industry. Is Liftopia (Cloudstore) the only ecom provider that cares about the most important part of the entire system? Please solve that, because all the work that we marketers and web designers do is really for nothing if that doesn’t work.

    Rant.. over… ;)

    • My name is Gregg Blanchard and I approve (and agree with) this rant.

  • AK

    If you’re going to make another skiing website (media side) do something, anything, other than re-blog other peoples content and press releases. Create your own stoke in your own niche or stop stealing it. That just fragments the dollars and eyeballs of the people actually contributing and makes it noisier, not better.

    Rant.. over… :)

  • Gregg,

    Thank you for the letter and inspiration.

    Our organization, Mountain Rider’s Alliance, is ushering in a new era to the ski industry, one filled with ski areas that are affordable to all and more sensitive to the environment while empowering the local community to thrive.

    Dreaming Big, Jamie

    • Good on ya, Jamie. I wish you the best of luck. Fun to see your movement gain momentum.

  • Thanks for the shout out! And don’t worry…I’m dreaming big…just need to set up the foundation first. If you ever need another income stream, motivational speaking could have your name on it. http://www.hulu.com/watch/4183

    Seriously, everyone needs a does of focus and reality from time-to-time. Thanks for writing this.

    • Thanks, Joel, and I have no doubt about your aspirations. And if this is just the foundation, I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

  • Pingback: Step Aside Cutters, Meet the Camp That’s Taking Skiing in a Awesome Marketing Direction | SlopeFillers()

  • Great article Gregg! We just had our first successful year of getting underprivileged NYC youth to the slopes here at The Peaks Project. We like to dream big and hope to keep taking on more kids year after year!

    Check us out at:
    http://thepeaksproject.org/

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