When we started Renoun, it was heralded as the "next big thing" in skiing. Our technology was second-to-none and timing as a B2C couldn't have been better.
We were the first (and only) to incorporate a non-newtonian polymer inside skis, drastically increasing performance. We took this performance boost, built a sleek brand and put it out for the world to see.
Tesla launched a car with a new Model S powertrain in a B2C market back in 2012 with incredible performance advancement— and their timing was perfect. Their technology was second-to-none, and still is.
What could a ski company possibly learn from Tesla? More than we thought.
Yes, a car is far, far more complex than skis, we get that. But the principles behind the brand are strikingly similar. And here’s exactly what we learned from Elon Musk’s Tesla and what we did about it:
It’s about the technology, not the cars or skis. Musk’s mission with Tesla is to accelerate the adoption of clean energy in transportation — not sell cars, which is how they do this. Similarly, we know the non-newtonian material makes a better ski and should be in any decent ski. Selling skis is just how we prove the concept.
Expand beyond your core: Tesla utilizes similar technologies in a host of products (i.e. PowderWall). We’ve expanded Renoun to utilize our technology beyond skis as well. First up: surfboards and flooring systems.
The sunk cost fallacy. This is the “well, we’ve gone this far, might as well finish it” mentality many companies and agencies have. Musk vehemently opposes this idea of continuing with a flawed design even if it’s been paid for. He’s famous for walking away and starting from scratch. Likewise, we’re constantly upgrading and dropping mediocre ideas to make room for the best, even if it means throwing away something that cost a fortune. We’ve learned this, though painful at times, to ultimately payoff in spades.
(Don’t) Follow the leader: If you follow those in your industry, you’ll make the same mistakes they did. Look elsewhere for ideas and inspiration, and only lightly keep tabs on those who’ve done it before. We constantly look at other ski companies and write down all the things they are doing — and then we stick the list on a “don’t do this” board. We watched as Musk applied the “don’t do this” technique time and time again and instead write his own playbook, and built the machine to build the machine. He may not be there, yet, and he’s certainly ruffled some feathers along the way but he’s much farther than anyone thought possible, which is something we can all agree on.
Ruffle some feathers: At times it’s not hard to argue Musk takes this one too far, but the alternative is safe and boring. Likewise, we’ve done some rather edgy things (like a Trump vs. Clinton ski) and taken some heat for it, but we’d rather answer a few poignant questions that be labeled another ‘ski company’. We’re here to do more than just build skis.
We built these Tesla skis long ago and it took us 2 years to find Elon. Eventually, someone walked into our offices who was friends with him (who’s casually friends with Elon Musk??) and offered to make the connection — and now Musk has the only pair of Tesla skis in the world. We couldn’t think of anyone better.
Musk and Tesla stand among a few of the most inspiring businesses we look to emulate. We’ve watched and been a fan of Tesla since the beginning, and we’ve taken a leaf or two out of their book. Building these skis for Elon was a nod to the man who helped set an example of what ‘upending an industry’ looks like.
Thanks for all the tips and tricks Elon, these skis are for you.
Footnotes: If you want a pair, ask Elon to borrow his. Not for sale.