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July 17, 2020

#3 White Blank Page

Creating a new product for a new market to solve new problems – it doesn’t get better than that.

We always envisioned UNIT 1 as a platform for innovation and snowsports was – for us –  the perfect place to start: we were skiers long before becoming designers & entrepreneurs.

We were lucky enough to build a product for a sport we love and make a small mark on it. Before we knew it, there were thousands of skiers & riders in the US, Europe & Latin America using our helmet. We started seeing it on random people’s head all around our home mountain – many even approached us saying how our helmet had improved their experience on the slopes. That was a legitimate ‘pinch me’ moment: it’s not everyday you come across someone sporting a helmet that not long before was just an idea floating in your head.

“When the world changes around you and when it changes against you – what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind – you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn’t a strategy.”

Jeff Bezos

From a business standpoint, the snowsports industry is quite challenging: there’s a little over 60 million skiers & riders out there, heavily concentrated in the US and the Alps. With high levels of seasonality, the entire year is defined in a 3 month period and once the snow is gone, no one is thinking about buying ski gear. For a startup, that last part is especially tough, it forces you to accurately estimate demand way ahead of time and engage in the deadly game of either falling short or overdoing it.

This niche market was our first step, our trial by fire. Challenging as it was, we loved every minute of it – and still do. We learnt how to manufacture a product, how to sell it and how to build a business & brand around it. Granted, we’re still learning and probably always will be, but the thrill of this process has us hooked and we are not looking back – only forward.

But where is forward? The game is still on, sure… but the rules have changed on the fly. We know we want to keep on playing and keep on creating. But creating what?

We’ve been given an opportunity here: a blank sheet of paper to pick a new market and get busy creating something awesome – our own special kind of adrenaline rush. This time around, however, we have a more mature team, a brand with a thriving community and all our learnings from the past years.

So, down to business then: knowing seasonality and size are the key challenges in snow sports, our second turf had to compliment that well with year-round activity and a larger user base.

Watersports? Still seasonal. Mountain-biking? Still niche.

What about the streets? Sure, they’re half-empty right now but boy will they be changing soon: people are running away from public transportation due to health reasons and grabbing their bikes, scooters, onewheels – you name it – to move around the city, be outdoors and be healthy.

That’s it, we have our bearing – to the streets it is.

The UNIT 1 Team