Nearly 5 years ago, Tech Crunch ran a spotlight about a Utah startup making the state’s trademarked “Greatest Snow on Earth” more accessible. It’s worth a read, but the TL;DR, (aka “Reader’s Digest Version” for the GenX-plus crowd), is that while Obed Marrder and Chase Wagstaff grew up surrounded by Utah’s world-class mountain resorts, they never really caught on to winter activities like skiing or snowboarding. Their passion for mountain biking gave them an avenue to enjoy the outdoor terrain in the summer, but the cold months were still a bust when the snow hit. The reality of their winter conundrum is illustrated early in the Tech Crunch write-up when Wagstaff admits to having four brothers who were approaching professional-level skier status, but he never really caught on to adventures in the snow. Meanwhile, Marrder admitted to having tried skiing AND snowboarding, but on first attempts at both, broke his wrist and then thumb respectively.
After high school and a myriad of entrepreneurial ventures—together and separately, the two were intrigued with the technology and concept of snow biking. Using direct feedback from resorts, they focused their problem-solving on key deterrents and hurdles ski bikes faced to being welcome on the slopes. Over the next few years of working side jobs and pouring everything back into development, they launched a Kickstarter in 2015, and an Indiegogo a season later. Fast forward a few more years and Wagmar Partners, the LLC whose main product is the SNO-GO bike, were growing at a steady pace. Their bike had provided an accessibility solution inherent in slope sports. A key factor being their development of the S.L.A.T.® system.
S.L.A.T.® enables riders rapid success through its ability to mimic advanced skiing techniques with no prior skill. SNO-GO’s Chairlift Hook™ offers a resort compliant system for hauling ski bikes on chairlifts. Today SNO-GO® is the only ski bike company recognized the PSIA-AASI offering rentals, lessons, and tours throughout the US. (SNO-GO Facebook Page www.facebook.com/snogobike/)
As Wagstaff shared in 2017, “When we started this business, it was just for us, we didn’t have any intention of impacting the lives that we are. So many people can benefit from us.”
But then, the pandemic hit.
Unforeseen supply chain issues affected manufacturing and businesses across the globe.
SNO-GO was not immune. They needed an influx of working capital to pay off inventory orders. And while there were plans to rework the bike model in the future, the pandemic accelerated the need to experiment with new materials and improved techniques (here’s looking at you fancy carbon fiber technology!)
The ability to cover pre-orders, coupled with the expected changes and improvements meant the company projections showed SNO-GO could double their sales from the previous year – if only they had some working capital.
And that’s where Utah Small Business Loan Fund stepped up. When small businesses across the country were being turned down from their banks and lenders from Main Street to Wall Street, USBLF was helping companies like SNO-GO secure loans through the US Economic Development Administration (EDA). The funds kept SNO-GO on a trajectory for success and kept the mountains more accessible for all, whatever level one shreds the sweet chilly pow-pow.