The 5-year bootstrapped odyssey of Sno-Go, a snow bike for the everyday ski mountain visitor

The 5-year bootstrapped odyssey of Sno-Go, a snow bike for the everyday ski mountain visitor
From TechCrunch - December 9, 2017

Skiing has always been something of a nightmare for me. I first learned how to ski in middle school, and still to this day dont really understand how to stop. I once went to a black diamond mountain in Minnesota (read: gently sloping Midwest hill) and had to slam myself into the ground before skiing straight into the ski chalet.

Im hardly alone in my fear of skiing. The ski and snowboard industry is suffering a generational downturn in the sport, driven by less snow due to climate change as well as an increasingly sedentary population of young athletes more addicted to their smartphones than to the slopes. While several top resorts are growing exceptionally well, many other locations are shrinking and at risk of disappearing.

Cue Sno-Go. The product, the brainchild of Utah-based co-founders Chase Wagstaff and Obed Marrder, is a snow bike with three skis and handlebars that allows any person to get back onto the mountains.

Riding the bike is simple. Riders stand on the back two skis just as they normally would with traditional skis, but instead of holding ski poles, they grip the handlebars connected to the front ski. The whole bike articulates as you move your weight from one side of the bike to the other, allowing the rider to navigate hills with ease.

For Wagstaff and Marrder, the productand the startup they are buildingis the culmination of a years-long pursuit of a better ski experience.

The two first met in seventh grade, and both faced similar challenges with skiing. I come from a family of five boys, and all of my brothers are practically professional skiers, so from an early age I was forced to go to the mountains, Wagstaff explained. Yet, he didnt like skiing, and couldnt get into snowboarding either. Marrder tried skiing, but on his first attempt broke his wrist, and on his first attempt to snowboard, broke a thumb.

Instead, the two got into mountain biking, and biked every summer. That worked great when the mountains were clear, but was hard in winter when snow made biking impossible. Winter-time was just dreadful since we didnt participate in any winter sport, Wagstaff said, and so he and Marrder would be left behind as his family and friends headed up to the ski resorts for a weekend of fun.

After graduating high school, the two hatched a variety of businesses, together and separately, including businesses in auto detailing, mobile phone repair, and nutrition supplements. Despite hard work around each of their entrepreneurial ventures, the two walked away with a string of failures, and their goal of becoming millionaires impossibly distant. Then an epiphany came. Our businesses were all failing, and we hadnt had much success, Wagstaff explained. We realized we werent passionate about what we were doing, and we were just starting businesses.


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