Innovation is one of those things: The invention itself isn’t the only thing that needs to be good. No, the point in time and the target group also play a crucial role in whether an invention will be regarded as a blessing for mankind.
One of the proto-snowboards, then still called a “skiboard,” was developed back in 1963 by surfer Tom Sims, for example. But another quarter of a century would go by before the snowboard became a winter sports device for the masses.
The Swedish company No More Boots believes that all of the factors are perfect for them in 2018 - worldwide, but especially in China.
That is why the two Scandinavians Oscar Arvidsson and Andreas Persson decided in 2018 they’d rather exhibit in the Startup Village at ISPO Beijing instead of the significantly larger ISPO Munich, and thus take advantage of the opportunity to present themselves “on what will probably be the fastest growing market for skiing and winter sports in the next few years.”
A check next to the time factor can thus be definitely made; however, this is first of all true for any entrepreneur who wants to earn their money in the winter sports business in China.
So what makes No More Boots so special? First of all, the fact that the duo can still put a check next to the time factor, as their invention is a blessing for ski rentals especially.
Arvidsson and Persson developed a tool that makes the mounting of bindings and tedious adjusting of ski boots to the binding much more simple, making the countless fittings at the store obsolete.
“Oscar and I worked in a ski shop in Sweden in 2013, and we got tired of constantly picking up ski boots from the warehouse or the sales area to adjust the bindings,” Persson explains. “The ‘SkiClicker’ saves the staff a lot of time, it’s much more ergonomic to handle than a ski boot, and the customer doesn’t have to take off their ski boots.”
The “SkiClicker” is already striking several chords with its advantages, especially in China. Because winter sports are still in their infancy in China, and the overwhelming majority of winter sports enthusiasts are novices, many Chinese shy away from buying equipment.
According to the “White Book 2017,” 75 percent of Chinese winter athletes don’t own any skiing equipment.
This makes renting the material much more important than it is in Europe and North America, and thus the perfect starting position for No More Boots. So not only is the timing perfect, No More Boots also has a big check next to the target group factor.
In the case of No More Boots, the target group can even be expanded by another subgroup. This is because the active winter athletes aren’t the only fledglings.
The staff in ski resort rental shops are also often fairly new to the business. The “SkiClicker” also makes their work much easier, while also significantly improving the service for the customer.
This win-win situation can have far-reaching consequences. Even though more and more Chinese are daring to hit the slopes, one problem in China cannot be denied: The slope experience is often a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Wu Bin, winter sports expert and author of the White Book, even assumes that just two percent of Chinese citizens get on skis a second time.
With a significantly simplified and shortened trip to the rental station, negative first impressions can be avoided and the overall experience of a skiing excursion can be enhanced.
All of these factors were ultimately incorporated into the decision-making process for No More Boots, and “after several meetings with our incubator and partners, we resolved that we at No More Boots wanted to be represented in China for the first time at ISPO Beijing,” says Arvidsson. “China has decided that it wants to become a big winter sports nation, and we want to offer a new standard for safe, reliable mounting for ski bindings with the “SkiClicker.””
Accordingly, No More Boots is first placing its focus in China on ski resorts and ski lenders in the winter sports regions. Then, in the second step, retailers in the cities will be incorporated.
“We still don’t have any market share as of yet, but we were able to make important contact with distributors for potential long-term collaborations at ISPO Beijing,” Arvidsson says. “The input, the inspiration, and the support at and from the trade fair was enormous, and we are very satisfied with contacts we made and our newly obtained knowledge on the market situation in China.”