* All Photos Courtesy of RigStrips
We've all been there: it's a fresh powder day, your adrenaline is pumping, skis are propped up against the car and then...the dreaded gear shuffle. Leaning your trusty skis against your car and hoping they stay put is never a good option. They are more likely to become rogue paint-scratching missiles than continue to stand upright. Enter SnoStrips by RigStrips, the brainchild of two ski bums tired of the post-shred scratch blues.
SnoStrips Offers Car Protection at its Finest
Forget blankets and bungee cords, SnoStrips is an innovative magnetic (or adhesive) strip that sticks to your car, creating a safe haven for your skis and snowboards. No more cringing every time the wind whistles or a careless passerby bumps your board. However, SnoStrips isn't just about saving your paint job (though let's be honest, that's reason enough to celebrate). It's about peace of mind, convenience, and keeping your ride looking as fresh as that untouched powder line.
In this interview, we caught up with the founders Zhach Pham and Steven Graf of SnoStrips, who'll tell us the inside story of their invention, from concept to snow-covered streets. We'll dig into the science behind the strip's magic, explore its sleek design and functionality, and discover why it's becoming a must-have for winter sports enthusiasts everywhere. So, buckle up (metaphorically, of course) and get ready to learn how these savvy skiers revolutionized car-side gear storage and saved countless paint jobs in the process.
RigStrips: Born in the Rockies
- Growing up in the Rocky Mountains, how did your passion for outdoor activities shape your entrepreneurial journey?
Living in the Rocky Mountains definitely shaped our entrepreneurial journey. We knew that we wanted to start a company someday, and our best memories revolved around time spent outdoors, so a venture in the outdoor space just made sense.
When the concept of SnoStrip came up, we were fired up about the idea of launching a product that was different. We had tried (and failed) before at a few other product launches in the past, so the gears started turning around how we could fix this problem. This excitement fueled our drive to take action and bring RigStrips to life.
- Can you recall the specific incident at Keystone Ski Resort that sparked the idea for Rig Strips?
It was a spring day, and we were gearing up in the lot. After taking my skis out of the car, the ground was muddy so I didn’t want to put them on the ground. I didn’t think twice when I leaned them against my Honda Element since I’d done it so many times before, but when Steven (the co-founder) sat on the tailgate to put on his boots, it nudged the car enough to have my skis slide down the side, taking a chunk of paint with it.
- What was your initial reaction to the realization that there was a need for a better solution to securing outdoor gear on vehicles?
After that happened, It was crazy to look around and see a bunch of other skis and boards leaning against cars in the same lot…
SnoStrip Product Development and Innovation
- How did you translate the concept of Rig Strips into a tangible product? What design challenges did you encounter along the way?
Later that year, we were at a bar in Denver talking about what the solution to this problem could look like. A rough draft was drawn on the back of a receipt that we originally had called the “Ski-Strip”. We imagined a thick bumper sticker with grooves and slots that you could use to lean your gear to prevent it from falling over.
- What makes the SnoStrip™ unique compared to traditional car ski mounts or makeshift solutions like leaning gear against the vehicle?
Our current SnoStrip model is the result of 4 years and 4 iterations, with an improvement made each year based on customer feedback and field testing on our end. Our 23/24 Magnetic SnoStrip season design has come a long way from the first bumper sticker version, and we’re confident that this design is finally perfect.
- Can you elaborate on the patented technology behind the SnoStrip™ and its role in ensuring stability and safety for skis, snowboards, and vehicles?
Our patents span across multiple products, since each product is made for a certain type of outdoor gear. The patents ensure secure fits for any and all gear that our products are built for, as well as quality and performance that allows the strips to stay on full time when not in use (even when driving on the highway in a snow storm).
Customer Feedback Leads to Market Expansion
- How did you initially introduce the SnoStrip™ to the market and what were the initial reactions from potential customers?
Our first version was the adhesive bumper sticker. If we’re being honest, it wasn’t even close to perfect. Some people loved it, but others weren’t too happy with the idea of putting a sticker on their car.
- What kind of feedback have you received from customers over the years, both positive and critical? How has this feedback influenced your product development and customer service approach?
Early on, the biggest piece of feedback was that people wanted a magnetic version, so that’s what we did! Some additional feedback came later:
- We heard users wanted stronger magnets, so we made them military grade.
- We heard people wanted longer grooves for certain skis, so we updated the design to accommodate all skis.
- We heard people say they wanted more support for snowboards, so we perfected the “snowboard hook” design for boards this year.
Every piece of feedback was an opportunity to improve and allow someone to be a part of our journey. We were sure to listen and hook up with everyone who provided constructive feedback once we came out with the new and improved models.
- As your product line has expanded beyond the SnoStrip™ to include other outdoor gear protection solutions, how have you maintained a consistent brand identity and customer loyalty?
We’ve stayed true to our brand identity by only launching products that people like us would want.
For example, we kept receiving comments on our SnoStrip ads that people wanted a similar product for leaning their fishing gear, hunting gear, and biking gear on their car. This feedback helped us develop our second product, the SunStrip, a magnetic mount for fishing rods, hunting rifles, and mountain bikes.
This year we launched a “Lot Mat” for changing into boots/waders in the lot, a “TrunkGuard” for wet and dirty gear, and a massive 100L tote bag (known as the “BFT - Big F***ing Tote”) that can carry more ski/snowboard boots than any other bag we’ve seen on the market. All of these products are built to “enhance lot life”.
We’re also always sending out emails to our existing customers with deals and packages that include our newer products and bundles.
What is in Store for the Future of SnoStrips
- What are your long-term goals for Rig Strips? Do you envision expanding into new markets or product categories related to outdoor activities?
We have a million ideas, and the biggest question is just where to start next. We recently expanded into Canada and that’s going very well. We’re also in talks with some partners in Japan and Europe for next season. Our long term goal is to build a globally recognized brand that builds the best products at the intersection of the outdoor and automotive space.
- How do you see Rig Strips contributing to the overall safety and enjoyment of outdoor enthusiasts in the years to come?
We’ve heard stories of cars running over gear placed on the ground in a parking lot, and even one story of someone’s dog needing to get stitches after a snowboard fell over. The moments hanging in the lot before, during and after your time spent in the outdoors are some of the best, so our goal is for RigStrips products to keep those moments as stress-free as possible.
- What role do you see technology playing in the future of Rig Strips, both in terms of product innovation and customer engagement?
Without the digital solutions out there today for ecommerce brands, it would have been incredibly hard, if not impossible, for just the two of us to get to where we are today with RigStrips. That being said, there is still a ton of opportunity for improvement in the ecommerce tech space.
Aside from RigStrips, we're also working on a tool called Flowcart. It's a tech solution that lets anyone team up with brands to sell outdoor products online, wherever they want. Flowcart allows any blog, article or website to sell a product through a native checkout experience. This has many benefits over traditional affiliate links, such as keeping traffic on the site and instant payouts/kickbacks to the publisher.
It’s been a game-changer for RigStrips, opening up new sales channels and helping us build long-term relationships with blogs, publications, and influencers who sell our products using the platform, and we look forward to growing with other brands who join us.
You can see Flowcart in action here:[Button to buy a SnoStrip now]