Snowflake: New App Aims to Help Snowboarders Share a Chair and Then Some
The days of random lift rides, or not having anyone to share a chair with, may be less of a problem thanks to the a new app that's aimed at connecting snowboarders with like-minded, similarly-skilled riders that are keen to meet-up and ride a resort together.
The app, which currently has bagged close to 10,000 dollars in support and seeks 15,000 dollars more in the next seven days, piqued our interest, so we reached out to Philadelphia’s Catherine Marston, the 23-year-old snowboarder and the brains behind the startup for the down and dirty details on Snowflake. Marston is an avid snowboarder that competes in USASA boardercross events and instructed at Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, which helped her log close to 100 days of riding this past season. Check out her Kickstarter campaign here and read on for what to expect with from this Tinder-esque app.
Talk to us about Snowflake. What is it and how did the idea come about?
Snowflake is a way for skiers and riders to casually meet up and shred together. I initially came up with the idea on a Christmas family ski trip in 2013. I was having a lovely time with my family but all my cousins were park rats. I was eager to do some more backcountry with all the fresh powder, and would have loved to meet up with someone even just for an hour. This is how I initially came up with Snowflake. This last season while I was instructing, I came to realize that a meet-up application for skiers and riders would be plausible. While I was in Colorado for a week in March for a boardercross competition, I truly longed for Snowflake. I met some really cool competitors, but most of them were much younger or with their families. I’m always friendly on lift rides, especially when I look like a loner, but most of the people I met on the lift weren’t little speed demons like myself! I also pitched Snowflake everywhere I went, and people were very receptive to it. I knew I needed to at least try to create this application; I had been thinking incessantly about it for so long.
You’re hoping to raise 35,000 dollars on Kickstarter and have raised close to 10,000 dollars already--what will you use this money for?
I’ve consulted with multiple firms about the cost of developing the application for iOS and Android by Thanksgiving or mid-December and since this is a relatively short time frame, it’s going to be around 20,000 dollars to develop. I consulted with some cheaper, freelance application developers but there’s much more risk associated with that, and it would be difficult for a beginner developer to complete it by the deadline.
Lastly, I’ll be using 10,000 dollars for marketing in lodges on posters, billboards on I-70 westbound towards the major Summit county resorts from Denver, and on ski lifts. I will also use social media for marketing, but that can’t be the sole technique.
What happens if you don’t reach your goal?
I’m very passionate about Snowflake so I’m hoping to find investors who would like to own part of the company. I’m also entertaining the idea of using a different crowd-funding site or launching another Kickstarter.
Who do you think will use the app?
I’ve done extensive market research for the application using Snowsports Industries America and the National Ski Areas Association. My target market is going to be 18-35 year olds, but I’m also going to allow 13-17 year olds to meet-up. In this age group, users will obviously only be able to see other 13-17 year olds. My market is around five million people.
How will users be able to use the app in the summer months or when their home resorts aren’t operating?
Fundamentally, Snowflake is for skiers and snowboarders, but ultimately I want to connect like-minded people. I would like to expand it all other activities so people could continue to use it during the summer. There will be enough servers for the application to be used across the entire US so people can use Snowflake at small resorts or when a resort isn’t operating.
Have you used Tinder before, if so, did it work out? How do you think Snowflake will be better at connecting people?
I have used Tinder before, and while I enjoyed it somewhat and understand why it’s so successful, it’s fundamentally based on looks. You can easily swipe to like someone just based on their one picture and not even look at their profile. I alluded to how I wanted my application to be different on my Kickstarter campaign and not based solely on looks and hooking up. My hope for Snowflake is that users will meet up with each other based on ability level and what they love to do on the mountain rather than just attractiveness. They will meet up because they love their respective sport and want someone else to share that with! Maybe a romantic relationship occurs, but if not, at least they had a great time shredding!
What else should we know about Snowflake?
If my Kickstarter campaign is successful, I’m hoping to start cultivating relationships with small business owners around the resorts, since Snowflake will be a good platform for them to advertise. Local ski shops, restaurants, bars, repair shops and other businesses will have an excellent way to advertise to Snowflake users. I’m hoping some places will entertain offering a percentage off goods based on the week, which will increase their sales. I think new businesses will be the most receptive.
We're into it. Are you? Check out the Kickstarter campaign here and give it a pledge. But hurry! Time is running out, only a few more days left to pledge.
All photos courtesy of Catherine Marston