What is Boardie?
Boardie is a Swedish start-up company situated in Uppsala Sweden. We are working with product development for the alpine industry. Our first product is a new wider and more ergonomic T-bar seat with an advertisement space. There are still a lot of T-bars in Scandinavia and in the Alps, and they are really painful to ride uphill. The Boardie will provide a more comfortable lift ride for all types and sizes of skiers in the ski resorts. We love skiing and we want to make a day at the mountain more memorable, and a better experience for all skiers. The Boardie is a great opportunity for ski resorts to upgrade any T-bar system without having to invest a large amount of money in a chair lift. Also, all components remain the same. In short, we are re-inventing the T-bar for the first time in 80 years!
How did you come up with the idea?
As snowboarders and skiers we knew the painful experience in going up the mountain with T-bar lifts. In Sweden the slopes are full of them! So we were wondering why no one have done anything about this? Sometimes it takes even longer to get up the hill then down, and it should not be so painful. Especially if you don’t have any other option then to take the T-bar. As product development engineers we saw our opportunity to invent something new and bring it to the ski resorts. And the idea of Boardie was born!
How and when did it start? What were the first steps?
After Boardie was founded during the summer of 2015, just a few month ago, the first step was to find contacts in the ski resorts, get the funding needed, and to start with the produduct development. After finishing the business plan in a written document, Eric and Niclas were able to get an office space at an incubator in Uppsala. That was the starting point for making the company launch!
How did you test your idea?
Firstly, we asked several ski resorts in Sweden about their opinions about the old T-bars. We needed to know their ideas about it, their problems, the good things about T-bars and their guest’s opinions. Last but not least we wanted to ask them what did they think about our Boardie concept. Would they want to invest in the new Boardie seat? The answers were extremely valuable for Boardie, since our costumers are ski resorts in whole Europe.
Secondly, we visited the ski resorts again to show them our progress in developing the new Boardie seat. We had used our valuable inputs from previous interviews. And, yet again we got information about the users and what kind of design the new Boardie needed to have.
Thirdly, we developed a prototype series that we tested in ÅRE, Sweden. This time we needed to see if we had a proof of concept, would the skiers understand our new invention? The answer was yes. With successful results we returned to the office and continued the manufacturing process.
Did you receive any funding?
Yes have got funding! The Boardie team spend a lot of time to find investors that wanted to pioneer this concept with us and support us financially. We were very happy to find investors that love skiing and that share our vision of a more comfortable T-bar lift ride uphill.
What was your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge for us in the beginning was to find funding and getting the company up and running. However, we are very happy that we have got help from our incubator in this matter. We have learned a lot from facing these challenges.
How did you form your team?
The first founders, Erik and Niclas, started the company in the summer of 2015. After five months of starting the company the third member of the team, Sanna, joined the company. We have learned that we are a very complementing team, with different skills and personalities. All three of us love skiing, just as we love having a great time together. We spend a lot of time doing team building activities such as after ski, travelling, visiting fairs and attending in entrepreneurship events. Our mind set is to have a good time while running the company, it’s a win-win situation for us and our customers!
Considering that many ski resorts are getting rid of T-bars and instead invest in chair lifts, is scalability and international expansion an issue?
Our market research have showed us that there are around 3000 T-bar systems up and running this season. That makes opportunity of scalability very pleasant for Boardie. What many people in the European market think about is that the T-bars are on the way to the garbage. However, there is still several left! If you think about it, almost every ski resort in Germany, Austria and Italy still have one or two T-bar systems. We want to improve those old T-bars and change them to Boardie. And who knows, maybe our invention will make ski resorts invest in new T-bar systems again?
How did you hear about Skinnovation?
Boardie’s participation is quite a funny and spontaneous story. Our incubator, Uppsala Innovation Centre, had a competition for start-ups with the chance of winning financial resources to make a company trip. We were feeling for some competition and found Skinnovation by searching for “skiing” and “innovation”. What a successful hit! Our time at Skinnovation was fantastic, we are in love of the beautiful Alps and happy to meet all the participants.
What comes next?
We are right now in a pre-production mode and will be ready to launch Boardie for selected ski resorts in October this year, well before the skiing season start. Right now our biggest mission is to find resorts that want to pioneer this concept with us, and join us in our quest to re-invent the T-bar for the first time in 80 years!