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Mentor’s insight puts sledge designers on fast track to sales

Mentor’s insight puts sledge designers on fast track to sales

Having perfected an innovative sledge that’s seriously fast and manoeuvrable, Stone-based Bobskis are ready to take the winter sports market by snowstorm – with a little help from their mentor.

Having perfected an innovative sledge that’s seriously fast and manoeuvrable, Stone-based Bobskis are ready to take the winter sports market by snowstorm – with a little help from their mentor.

Husband and wife team Keith Handy and Elly Reeve were convinced that their high performance sledge was a winner, but realised they needed help in bringing the new product to market.

Mentor Bob Moore has used his first-hand experience to help the couple focus their marketing efforts, refine their retail offer and address issues such as risk, investment and stock levels. At same time he has
become the Bobskis sledge’s biggest fan and can’t wait for the snow to fall!

Industrial product designer Keith crafted his prototype super-sledges for family and friends to try out a couple of years ago. The results persuaded himself and Elly, a management specialist, to dedicate their
time and their money to launching Bobskis as a full-time business.

With every component painstakingly designed and tested for both performance and safety – including punishing weight tests at -20ºC – the parts are sourced largely from UK suppliers and then the sleges are handbuilt in the couple’s own workshop.

Their dedication has paid off with a product that both performs and looks great. “We have a sledge with some unique features and the snow sports industry is recognising that this is a really innovative product,” said Keith.

But despite their achievements, the couple knew that they needed help for Bobskis to become a big seller. “We realised from the outset that there were gaps in our knowledge, we had no experience on the
retail side and in bringing a product to market,” said Elly.

David Wellings, Business Engagement Officer at the North Staffs Chamber, swiftly assessed the company’s needs and introduced them to mentor Bob Moore.

The relationship has been decisive for Bobskis. “I don’t think we would be where we are now without Bob,” said Elly. “It has been really helpful to us to have someone with his experience to support us. This is
not theoretical buisness, it’s someone who has been there and done that, and it gives a completely different quality to his understanding of our position.” Keith added: “Bob never tells us what to do, he listens and asks incisive questions.

“Because he’s outside the business he can look at the bigger picture whereas sometimes we’re too close to it. And he passionately wants us to succeed.”

One of Bob’s first requests was to ask Keith and Elly to make their first ever sales pitch to him and a colleague. That experience helped the couple to focus on their prime market of snow sports enthusiasts rather than large-scale retailers.

Other issues they have tackled together include improving packaging and presentation for retailers, updating their website, increasing stock levels, branding, assessing financial risks and exploring export markets.

Bob Moore believes that Bobskis has huge potential. “They’ve got a fantastic product, it’s extremely fast and will have a lot of interest from snow boarders and skiers.

Keith and Elly are very bright and whenever we meet it leads to a very constructive debate. I’ve been a great sounding board for their ideas,” he said.

“I have grown companies myself so I know something about what they are going through now, the financial scenarios and risks they are facing.”

While preparing for sales to leap with the first snows of winter, the company is raising its profile. After attracting retail interest at the British Ski and Board Show, it is gaining national media coverage, including Channel 5’s The Gadget Show before Christmas.

Next the company plans to tackle markets elsewhere in Europe and further afield to support sales throughout the year.

Positive outcomes

Business practice
Manufacturing, stock, investment assessed to meet sales demand.

Product development
Packaging and presentation amended to suit retail expectations.

Marketing
Key market identified, sales pitch refined, website updated.

Growth
Potential export markets explored.

If you would like more information contact the NSCCI Project Team
Contact details: NSCCI Project Team, Commerce House, Festival Park, Stoke on Trent, ST1 5BE
Tel : 01782 213 929 | Fax : 01782 202 448 | Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Web: www.nscciprojectteam.co.uk