How To Know Your Snowboard Product Isn’t A Stupid Idea

A while back I came across this snowboard workout tool that was trying to get funding on one of the many Kickstarter-like websites:

It’s basically a snowboard strapped to a balance beam type thing with resistance bands connected to it.

Honestly my first impression was this product will never sell well… and right now I see nothing to change my mind as the project isn’t anywhere close to being funded. As much as I admire the entrepreneurial spirit, this thing is quite obviously a bad idea.

And if it’s a bad idea, why am I writing about this? Well, I know a lot of you guys who read this blog are searching for ways to make snowboarding part of your job and income and I’m worried one of you might follow the ‘Snowbat’ strategy and end up wasting your time and money.

So let’s talk about why this snowboard product is a bad idea so none of you guys end up down this same path.

1) He doesn’t know his market

If you’re going to create a snowboard product, you better know your market like the back of your hand. What are their biggest frustrations? How do they think? Are they looking for solutions? Does your product solve that frustration?

If he did this one step alone he would know that his snowboard fitness product was already in trouble. He’s targeting the average snowboarder that snowboards 1-6 days a year. Most of them don’t give a dam about fitness for their short ski holiday.

And even those who care about fitness already have their needs met by one of 5000 other fitness products. A simple balance board or bosu ball and some weights/kettlebells already replaces everything this guy is trying to do with his product.

It’s not that his product doesn’t work, it’s rather that there is no need for his product and no one actively looking for a solution that doesn’t already have a ton of home fitness/gym solutions that do the same job.

2) He never asked the right people

The problem with most of these guys who start companies around bad ideas is they don’t see if people will put their money into buying the product before wasting all that time and money on the product.

He could have easily built a few of these, gone to a local gym at a ski resort and held a free class. Then after the class he could have taken feedback and seen how many people were interested in pre-ordering one of these or paying for a weekly gym class to use one of these ‘Snowbats’.

Right there he could figure out if there was enough interest because if you can’t get gym rats in a ski town to buy your crazy specialised and unnecessary snowboard fitness product then you’re not going to have much luck elsewhere.

Unfortunately, he probably listened to a few friends and family who thought it was a ‘cool idea’ and is now wasting his time and money trying to make this product into a profitable project.

The bottom line

The thing is this guy didn’t do the wrong thing by having this idea. However, instead of testing it and understanding that his target market doesn’t want or need his product, he just jumped head in without proper research or understanding.

He probably got a few people saying “Awesome idea! I’d buy it” and jumped the gun. Unfortunately for him, a few people does not make a profitable company, especially once you factor in paying yourself for your time invested.

I actually think the guy behind this ‘Snowbat’ seems like a nice guy and his entrepreneurial spirit should be admired. However, he’s going to waste a lot of time, money and effort that could be spent on a better idea.

The key to remember is you can’t educate or force people to want your product (unless you’re an insanely talented marketer or have an insanely huge ad budget). They need to already have the problem and want a solution and whatever snowboard product you have better be an awesome match.

Nothing wrong with ideas. I’ve had my share of bad ideas too. However, it’s important to test your ideas and find the ones that fit an actual ‘need’ in the snowboard market.

The difference between people who have ideas that work and those who don’t is that the ones who succeed were willing to fix, adapt or even throw out ideas that were bad. They didn’t blindly follow through when the snowboard market told them it was a bad idea.

Knowing how to test and stop following a bad idea is as much a part of being successful as coming up with the right idea.

- Jed

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Comments

  1. Kevin D. says:

    It’s definitely something that can be replaced by existing basic gym tools, which are more versatile than this because it’s only focused on snowboarding.

    I think the snowboarding world has seen it’s share of unnecessary tools and do-at-home stuff. At some point you just have to go out there and snowboard.

    If put a guy that goes snowboarding 3-5 days a week next to a guy that goes snowboarding once every week and uses gym tools the other 6 days a week, you will still have the first guy outgrowing the second guy at a rapid pace.

    Gym tools only enhance general fitness.
    Once on the mountain or on an actual rail the feeling is different.

    Even worse: balance bar/board tools don’t give an accurate feeling of the correct movement. So if you get used to it too much, you can actually learn bad habits -> wrong muscle memory.

    • I think overengineering tends to be where most of these guys go wrong. They make an overly complicated solution for something that isn’t even a real problem and already has basic solutions.

      It’s like that guy who decided to spend $20k+ to develop and make an LED snowboard light kit that no one really wanted.

  2. The worst people that get into the “industry” are engineers that aren’t snowboarders. This is why shit gets built that’s overly complicated.

    • Kevin D. says:

      I’m not 100% convinced about that. Being an industrial engineer I’m maybe not in an objective position to counter your response. But you do need engineers, how else will you build up a factory from the ground up?

      You’re totally right about the fact that sometimes engineers tend to overly complicate things. But luckily it’s not a general rule.

      Take an idea or a problem (a real life problem, not LED snowboard light kit problem) and hand it over to engineers all over the world to come up with a solution. Some will be crap, some will be unrealistic, some will be simple, some will be too complicated. But in the end there will always be good ideas. And that’s engineering. You never get everything right the first time.

      • I don’t think he’s knocking all engineers, just the engineers who don’t know enough about our sport to build solutions that aren’t over engineered and unnecessary.

        The problem is when you combine engineering skills with someone who’s not really a snowboarder you end up with a lot of the ‘solutions’ that no one wants or needs, which gets displayed at the snowboard conventions every year.

        • Kevin D. says:

          It’s not only a problem in the snowboarding industry. It’s a worldwide problem. Everywhere you see there is crap being made. You just have to hope the crap is bad enough that the company behind it shuts it’s doors a couple of months later.

          I think marketing plays a huge role in this. The best marketeers can sell you crap just because they can wrap it up in nice words.
          Without marketing, there would be much less crap available.
          In my eyes a good, down to earth product doesn’t “need” selling. It sells itself. And a crappy product get eliminated by itself. Survival of the fittest.

        • Kevin D. says:

          I wanted to add one more thing.
          If all those solutions are so unnecessary and unwanted, why do they get displayed every year at snowboard conventions?
          Because there are people behind it that push promotion and sales.

          Trust me, we engineers are not good at selling things.
          Something universities and companies here in Belgium found out is that engineers tend to be bad at communication. Hence the obligatory course of communication management in school.

          • Thankfully most of those products die very quickly since they’re useless and the guys selling them are engineers who, as you said, have a lack of selling skills.

            Overall marketing is just plain powerful if the person doing the marketing is good. It can be good or bad depending on how it’s used, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, it just gets abused a lot.

            The nice thing though is marketing is changing. Thanks to social media and the internet, deceptive marketing is becoming more and more short term because it gets exposed quickly.

            Instead, smart companies are changing their marketing strategies to focus on delivering an awesome customer experience, building a better product and ‘wow-ing’ their customers by good service and letting those relationships and word of mouth become a large part of their marketing.

            Everything a company does is marketing in one way or another, even this website is a form of marketing called ‘content marketing’, it just comes down to how you use it that depends whether the marketing is good or bad.

  3. Kevin D. says:

    True. A lot of products where I compare what is advertised or promoted and the actual product (from trying or reading review) you get the feeling you are being lied to from every angle.

    Why on earth do we need 1000 different types of USB chargers? Just make 1 correct device with good electronics, good power surge protection, intelligent charging in stead of having to buy a new one each year because the electronics keeps failing.

  4. Dominik says:

    Hey Jed, nice post thanks.

    I think the most prominent difference of this product is that it is your own real snowboard that’s getting strapped to your feet. Not some other board like a skateboard or a random fitness balance board. So maybe that’s going to help your brain connect the muscle movement to the movement later on real snow. But that’s just me thinking out loud.

    Totally off-topic:
    I was thinking about your training vids on 360s and other stuff on youtube and I really liked the perspective, filming from the rider’s view. However, I know those great videos from Nev over at snowboardaddicition.com where he is being filmed from a second person which is also great to see what’s going on.
    I think the perfect solution would be a combination of both techniques where you have the footage from both the rider’s view and the external camera. This way, you could see what is going on while the trick is getting executed in perfect detail, split-screen.

    Also a high framerate would be cool, because I like to watch the exact sequence of movements over and over again in slow motion (when to switch edges, when to shift your weight, when to wind up etc.) to really dial it into the brain. Most snowboard trick vids are like one-shot and there you have it. But that’s not how the brain learns – we need to repeat it over and over again to make it stick ;-)

    Anyway great post and great site! Always enjoying your blogs and vids!

    Cheers

    • Yeah, in the future if I ever do trick tip videos for specific tricks I’d definitely do that with more angles. Those youtube vids were more ‘quickies’ that I just threw together during the season.

      I’ll keep your suggestions in mind if I do ever jump into the trick tip space.

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