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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 2:19 pm 
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Who said anything about a "demo tour". :lol: You really think running a dozen or so camps a year, operating a small store/shop, and writing a guidebook is all over the road? To me, it seems that all of those things would be necessary for the $$$ to add up. No doubt it would be a ton of work and risky.

More or less, the things I mentioned are all stuff that Yuba Expeditions does in Downieville for mting. I think it's a husband wife team but I may be wrong. They provide bike rentals, sales and service, shuttles, guided trips, made a trail map and run a half ass website. I heard they run the burrito shop next door as well. I think they've been around for a decade or so now. Oh yeah, they do a bunch of trail maintenance.
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Sorry for bringing up things nobody wants to think about

Jim-I fully appreciate your comments on guiding, you obviously know what your talking about--I've never been even been on a guided trip. It's not that nobdy wanted to talk about it, most of us just don't have your insight. My joke was more a comment on the leeeeeengggggtttttthhhhh of your response, which btw was very imformative.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 3:20 pm 
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You know me, I'm looooonnnggg winded... I will try to keep my posts to under 2 hours reading time in the future. :)

Chris, new idea - burrito shop w/splitboard rentals!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:38 am 
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Just thought I'd provide a follow up to this thread… :)



I've been silently working on a few surprises over the last few months and I'm getting closer to making it all happen. I'm finishing up a few ideas and designs that in my opinion will innovate the product for the user and help push the sport forward.

I can't comment on the specifics just yet but I do have a few questions regarding this opportunity.

1. Is the splitboard market over saturated or is there room for another manufacturer?
2. Will the market embrace a company that strives to innovate and is solely focused on the sport of splitboarding?
3. Should I use my ideas on my own or should I partner with an existing company?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:27 pm 
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1. I think it is. I think the majority of people transitioning from resort riding to the backcountry is limited(thankfully, lets hope anyways) and they are more likely going to buy a board from a company they know such as the big name companies, like Burton, Voile, and now Never Summer and Winterstick. These companies are able to produce a good product at a reasonable price.
2. I don't think people are super stoked on "splitboarding" they are stoked on snowboarding in the backcountry, climbing mountains, uninterrupted pow turns, personal feats done by like minded individuals and a splitboard is the way we do those things. I enjoy reading about things skiers are doing, as well as boarders, which is why enjoy coulior mag just as much as snowboard journal and enjoy riding with skiers just as much as splitboarders. If I was going to define myself I would say I am a mountain man and not so much a splitboarder. If a ski company is putting out a similar product as a splitboard company but its better and cheaper I go with the ski company. I have no loyalty to anyone. Thats a bitterness I have gained over 11+ years of snowboarding and skateboarding and I don't shop at Walmart.
3. I think it comes down to how good are your ideas. If your putting out a product that is way better and more inovative than any other company and is reasonably priced so that people will not be able to not try it how can you not be succesfull.


I like this topic, I am a Pessimist, Im kinda pissed off, and I think you do a great job with this website, Good luck.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:47 pm 
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Here's a couple thoughts for ya,

1. Not oversaturated. If there were too many splits on the market that would push price down. I ain't in sales, but it doesn't seem like any manu's offer any sort of significant discounts, which I interpret to mean they don't need to offer discounts to encourage business. (The flip of this is that I don't think the demand is huge...yet.)

2. Nope. I don't think markets work quite like that. Price matters, reputation matters, what your bro rides matters, cute topsheets matter. I think innovation is great but it takes experience to appreciate and differentiate between marketing BS.

3. No idea. I'd see what offers you get from other companies and what offers you get for individual startup help. What do you give up for what you get?

Whatever ya do, make sure you still have time for product testing. That's the whole point isn't it?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:09 pm 
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In my humble opinion:

1) Splitboarding is in it's infancy and has lots o' room to grow. There is a whole industry built around Randonee and Telemark skiing in the backcountry with companies making specific boots, bindings, etc. That will happen in splitboarding, too. Just as snowboards are common in resorts today, splitboards will become common in the backcountry. As all the resort snowboarders become cantankerous old dudes like myself, it is just natural that some of them will head to the hills. There are snowboarders now who have never even skiied before. What do you think they'll ride in the backcountry? Besides, snowboards are a better tool for powder, which is the best reason to take one in the backcountry.

2) YES. Does Voile sell any snowboards that don't split?

3) Do what it takes to make it happen. If you can't pull it off on your own, don't be afraid to partner with someone.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:13 pm 
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I don't see how the market can be oversaturated with boards offered from only 5 manufacturers compared to over 200 regular boarding co's.
The key is to be innovative like you are pushing. I still think there can be quite a few different board co's offering different boards. there is still a lot of room for board improvement in my opinion. Not everyone likes the same ride and it's nice to have more to choose from.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 6:25 pm 
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I've been watching the high end mtb parts/bikes market for a long time. Here's what's typical over there: design and make your own shit till your grossing $4-6 million (maybe not profitable but turn product), sell to some conglomerate, still have a little influence, your set money wise, ride more. Tempting isn't it. Ask Salsa, Gary Fisher, Bontragaer, Voodoo, ect.

Or stand up for North American made, forward thinking, innovative rad, burly shit--even if you don't make as much money. Lots of the core builders are still one man shops. More often than not, the best bikes still come from small shops.


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 Post subject: Well...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 9:31 pm 
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... I'll give you the thoughts of this knucklehead wanna be splitboarder. I say wanna be as I do not own a splitboard, but I have most definitely researched them, studied their designs, etc. And, afterall, they are snowboards.

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1. Is the splitboard market over saturated or is there room for another manufacturer?


Manufacturer of what? It sounds like anyone manufacturing a splitbpard needs to fork some cash over to Voile. Maybe I have misunderstood this situation though. If so, what suffers? Profit margin or customer price? If one does mfg a board and has to pay fees, I think that you could offer something better than Voile's. Not speaking from experience, obviously, merely my appraisla of design specs, feedback I have seen and how that feedback seems to resemble my appraisal of a a Voile product I have used - Mtn Surf skis.

Bindings. Huge area. First, you have the plate binding arena. Basically, there are Bombers and Voiles. I would not buy a pair of Voiles as they do not appear to be as strong as Bomber's. They look cheap, and although they may be suitable for powder, having broken a pair of Cateks and having bent the bails on both Bombers and Cateks, umm, no thankyou to those cheap looking plastic things. I do not trust them. Further, Bombers lack adjustability. Nobody offers any type of cant or lift options, something that I think most hardbooters would appreciate, indeed find neccesary. I for one, when the pile of dough falls out of the sky for me, will create something for this problem.

Also, some people like PMB's but a suitable bondong does not seem to be readily available.

Finally, for softboots, be it a clicker type system or a strap system, it seems to me that a splitboard specific one could probably be identified and developed and perform better than a resort design.

Then you have the whole attachment, touring bracket system. There are two designs that I know of. Voile and Burton, with Burton dropping out of the game. I have read problems with both ssytems with Burtons seeming to be the least rel;iable, but obviously, if there are complaints there are design flaws waiting to be rectified.

Then you get into other miscellaneous issues, like why the hell can you not get a skin the length of your board that has some type of tail attachment system? Seem silly.

You get my point. Exsisting products could use improvement or are not all encompassing, evidenced by people's breakage, problems using in the field, and modification (that is the big one - people's modification which indicates to me a design that has not reached the pinnacle if joe schmo takes it out to his garge and revamps it to work better).

Over saturation? I don't think so. Offer a better product in any of the mentioned realms and people will choose to spend their money there instead. Come out with the same old shit and you might have some problems. Innovation is the antithesis of oversaturation. If you have something new and improved, people will pay alligence to it, literally. Look at Bomber and Catek, Donek and Coiler. Guys that entered into a very small market, you might even say a saturated one, that was being catered to by companies like Burton and F2 and developed and continue to develop better products that people continue to buy.

Enough on that. Build better shit and people will give you money for it, no matter how many companies are pumping products out of inferior quality. Period.

Quote:
2. Will the market embrace a company that strives to innovate and is solely focused on the sport of splitboarding?


Again, I reference companies like Bomber, Catek, Donek, Coiler, Virus, etc. People in niche sports dig that kinda shit. It is that clique special feeling they get, among other things.

Quote:
3. Should I use my ideas on my own or should I partner with an existing company?


Who? Voile? Never Summer? Prior? Burton? From what I can tell, Voile is the big daddy of this sport. They have the licsence and are the only ones in the game for split kits and the whole binding board attachment assembly. You gonna run your ideas through one of those folks to use their name only to lose decision making process? Nah, I say. Go it alone. That is, go it alone if you have an idea for a better and different product. You wouldn't be the first (again I could reference the same succesful compaines). Every company in niche type sports started as somebody doing their own thing, not selling their ideas to a current one. I thin that in today's world, prototyping has gotten easier and cheaper.

Go for it dude. I have never ridden a splitboard, have never seen one in person, I already have seen several areas where I would make changes. The sport is not over saturated - it is young and ready to grow. More and more people are getting into the backcountry, including boarders.

EDIT: (not for spelling - I'm feeling lazy)

One more reason on the going it alone. You already have one of the major issues tackled - exposure. This is the place for splitboard info on the net. Your marketing problem is solved (unless Bomber has a piece of ownership of this site)

_________________
Okay, God, I see you don't want to do it just now. Well, all right, suit yourself, you're the boss, but we ain't got a hell of a lot of time. Make it pretty soon, goddammit. A-men." - Seldom Seen Smith.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 2:31 pm 
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Damn, Cat Jockey -- you nailed it on the head and haven't even and the pleasure of the "transition".


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 Post subject: Re: Take the Plunge?!
PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 3:23 pm 
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bcrider wrote:
I think with the proper backing some of my ideas could be really successful (did I tell you I want to start my own splitboard company too?).


Unless you have invented a better mousetrap, this will be difficult. Voile almost got smooshed by Burton, they were saved by the fact that their system really is better when the rubber meets the road. (What people seem to forget is that, for the times when you Must Have A Solid Board, a great variety of them are available... Voile's ingenious and simple system represents the elegance that characterizes the best inventions.)

If you do have a better mousetrap (in terms of practical utility to people enjoying the backcountry), and you partner with a company made of real people (like, say, Voile or Bomber) who aren't trying to rip you off, you'll do quite alright. A patent application costs between $2k and $10k to see it through (renewals to the full term, and legal counsel); if you patent and license to a company who can leverage their existing machinery to bring the item to market, as long as you both play nice, you both win.

If the item is cheap to manufacture, that equation gets turned on its head -- you bring it to market and get acquired for your innovations. Todd Bibler has retired to Bishop after selling his company to Black Diamond. Eventually, most partnerships result in a merger, and most innovative small companies (with better, legally protected innovations) get acquired, enriching their owners.

At the end of the day you want to work with the Googles and Voiles of this world, not the Microsofts and Burtons full of mercenary suits.

Pick your partners wisely! In business as in skiing and in life.


Quote:
It's just a hard road to haul because of the small splitboard market and existing players with deeper pockets. There really isn't too much room for more companies in my opinion. What we need is a company that is willing to take a risk and sink some real money into product development and set themselves apart from the competition. That would really help push the sport ahead in my opinion.


You need to think about how existing players (the biggest of whom you have expertly recruited to your side) can expand the market. Right now, you happen to own the most visible ad property in the universe for the term 'splitboard'. (Namely, the #1 result in Google) When people like my friend Paul Addison, a hardcore big-wall climber who is getting into BC skiing after doing a couple walls with the guy who taught me about the backcountry (small world), call me up and ask about Freerides, that's a bad sign. Paul is a snowboarder first, and when you start slapping Freerides on a pair of fat planks, the supposed "weight penalty" of a split evaporates.

Why didn't Paul know about splits? Why do people characterize them as gumby tools for soft-boot riders, when Jim Zellers is dropping Half Dome on a "flimsy" Voile split, and Ruedi Beglinger uses a split when the conditions call for it? A bigger market supports more innovation. The term "splitboard" needs to arrive at the level of "randonee" or "alpine touring"; we need to arrive at a point where people getting into the backcountry, especially snowboarders, realize that there are three exceptionally viable backcountry transports out there, (AT, tele, split), and the "right" choice depends on your background and your goals.

That's where marketing and mindshare come in. You're already doing this right (by haunting other forums and turning people's heads). Keep it up.

PT Barnum once said, "Without publicity, a terrible thing happens: Nothing."

Gotta figure out how to expand the market. Forbes, Outside, and the like have published pieces exalting the split. The moronic "hiking to the goods" ads in regular snowboard mags need to be pushed aside by split ads; Voile is too core to do that, as far as I can tell, but if you look at the changes in their website this year, you can see that they either hired an MBA or realized that we're arriving at a tipping point in the sport's evolution.

You happen to be in a position where skill of execution and some market research ("What do people with actual money want, but can't buy?") could set you off on the road to being a part-timer and then (maybe) working for yourself. Rewards rarely come without risks.

Personally, I would not want to accept the liability for guided tours, or the annoyance of trying to manage halfway qualified guides. JMHO.

Quote:
I go up and down as far as staying positive with these dreams. Sometimes it seems obtainable…other times it seems impossible.


Keep your focus and visualize exactly what success means to you. I walked away from Google in 2004 and made just as much cash selling a fixer-upper as the Google options would have made me. It became clear to me that I was not going to be happy collecting a paycheck for menial horse-shit work for the rest of my life, and I don't want to look back on my life, whether in 5 years or 50, wondering what could have been.

Chris, you have excellent people skills, and a positive, accomodating outlook. An ambassador and a marketer is exactly what this segment of the sport needs right now, to break out -- don't you dare forget that.

Quote:
There is also a difference between having good people skills and being a good business man. I'm not very good at the latter.


You'd be surprised. You have a poor dollars-and-cents focus, but this market is not sufficient to attract anyone rational; upon analysis it appears that it is barely able to provide partial support for the companies that service it. Given your role in the community, you have an opportunity to expand the pie (rather than take on established players for your own slice) and collect a commission for doing so. You have lined up the players with the most to gain and, partly due to a lack of raw greed, a lot of goodwill.

You have a family, you live in a town with a relatively low cost of living, you have a job to fall back on, and the positive attitude that any venture requires to succeed. In short, you're much better off than you think.

Stay focused. I believe that you're already past the hardest part, namely, assembling your core customers and the early-adopters who create a network effect around certain hubs. eBay started out as a site for people to sell Pez dispensers to each other. It worked better than anything else and now it's a $40Billion company that changed the way business is done.


Somebody already remarked that they're not into splitboarding, they're into backcountry. I couldn't have said it better myself. The strongest BC skiers I know use the tool that works, to accomplish their goal. Sometimes that tool is a splitboard (especially for difficult snow or snorkel fluff). The more people who know it's available (especially snowboarders sick of the resorts), the more prices will come down, the more innovation will be supported, and the more of a chance you have to quit your day job. :-)


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 3:46 pm 
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Thanks for your thoughts guys, its very helpful. 8)

I'm gonna go back and try to respond to a few points…


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 5:22 pm 
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Utah,
I'm all for multi discipline glisse and some of my best partners are skiers. Sometimes I even like checking out their stoke from time to time (Powder Mag) as it can be better than all the jibbing and image ads that fill up most of the snowboard rags.

dd,
If it all happens, only protos and samples will be made for this season. That should give us plenty of time for testing. We already have a great starting point too. Since you live so close to me, there may be some testing opportunities for you as well if you are interested. :)

SF,
Voile does not make solid boards.

Eco,
I don't want to be rich in terms of wealth, I want to be rich in terms of happiness and job satisfaction.

Cat,
Anything a mfg wants to do in the splitboard world (with the exception of skins) falls under the Voile patents. This is fine, Voile worked hard to develop their product and they should have protection from their patents. Voile is a great company with good people, they do not want to block innovation. But if the design falls under their patents, the mfg can expect to pay for licensing. Current splitboard mfgs deal with it as would a new mfg. Prices wouldn't be effected. The price range is pretty level right now in the market (with the exception of the custom board mfgs).

I can't comment on what exactly I want to produce but can say that its not plate bindings. That portion of the market is very small and in my opinion it needs to show growth before I would consider adding it to my plan. I'm not saying there aren't advantages to hardboots, it's just not something I'm interesting in focusing on at this time. In the future, heck yeah.

Re the interfaces. Who knows what the future will hold but for the time being it makes perfect sense to work with the Voile design. It's trusted and effective. There are a few small enhancements (but no major changes) Voile could make and I'm sure eventually we will see.

Re the splitboard accessories. This is something I've given a good amount of thought to. There are a number of little things that could be offered to make the end product better. Not all of them would fall under the patents which is a good thing.

Re existing players. The mfg I may partner with is none of the ones you noted.

Ttriche,
A better mousetrap? I believe I've made the product better with my design. I haven't necessarily reinvented the wheel but I have improved it. Innovation is the sole purpose of my desire to start my own company. Anyone can make a splitboard and put their name on it but it takes vision to make the product better. Part of my reason for asking question 2 is because I feel that the more defined the goals are of a company, the more likely they are to achieve them. In theory, a company that ONLY made splitboards and splitboard related product should be very in touch with the specific needs of the market. Whereas a company that make all sorts of other products may find it difficult (if not impossible) devoting time and resources to the splitboard segment of their business.

I don't agree with the joking comment you made re Voile. They are not in the business to rip anybody off. They are aware of my plans and supportive.

Re your friend Paul and the overall image of splitboarding. This is one of the biggest things that has held the growth back. We have no IDENTITY, we have no real ambassadors, and we are not marketed towards (lack of publicity). Without these things it becomes very difficult. The mfgs need to identify the market. We are very diverse. While most are snowboarders to begin with we also have skiers, climbers, backpackers, mountaineers, etc all mixed in. The age range is pretty broad too. All these things don't make it easy to reach the market but it is possible with the right plan.

Thanks again for the discussion guys, it helps keep me motivated and focused. It's a very exciting time and I can't wait to share the real nitty gritty with you.


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