Snowledge to the People

Posted: 03.05.2019
Posted: 03.05.2019
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Februburied at Homewood Mountain Resort. PC: Riley Bathurst

4FRNT Team rider Eric Lee O'Brien began his ski career at a young age and is still going strong to this day. In 2013, Eric founded Snowledge, a real-time, location-based social and tracking app for skiers and snowboarders, and is the company’s CEO. Prior to Snowledge, Eric was an attorney specializing in civil litigation, practicing in California and Nevada. His passion for skiing and close proximity to the mountains kept him plugged in to the ski community and when the opportunity to build an integrated app that would get skiers and snowboarders more connected, with better information, and more reliable tracking Eric jumped on it. Give Eric and Snowledge a follow on Instagram and check out his bio on our Team Page.  

Tucking for one more over the snow dune at Revelstoke. PC: Riley Bathurst

I started Snowledge because I was frustrated with existing ski apps. I lived in South Lake Tahoe and was skiing Heavenly and Kirkwood. Heavenly had EpicMix (the Vail Resorts app), but this was before Vail moved in at Kirkwood, so I couldn’t use it there. I tried some of the other tracking apps, but I just wanted more local insight about the mountains and better ways to stay connected with the people I was riding with. I also wanted to be able to take all of these awesome experiences and share them with my friends. These frustrations got me thinking, and I realized there was a real gap with existing ski apps. Everyone I talked to felt the same and it became obvious that there was a real opportunity to create something better, that worked at every resort and in the backcountry.

Snowledge App Screens: Explore, Feed, Find Friends, Tracking, Resort Info

We recently released the Android version of the app and have built out customizable profiles for resorts. The resorts can claim their profile and create a better experience for their skiers through real-time weather and snow, mountain operations updates, offers, and contests. We’ve grown to 30 partner resorts this season and we’re excited to add additional mountains in North America and expand to European resorts next season.

Air to Straight Line at Whitewater. PC: Riley Bathurst

Pond Slope Cliffs at Squaw. PC: Riley Bathurst

A lot of people think it’s this glamorous existence, but it’s really not. At least not in my experience. Mark Suster (a well known entrepreneur and investor) summed it up pretty well in a recent blog post: “Startups are messy and development is seldom linear and up-and-to-the right. They are filled with growth spurts and setbacks. They are filled with optimism and exhaustion. Startups are filled with great decisions that lead you to new heights and false positives that lead you down rat holes.” Despite this rollercoaster ride, the experiences—even the struggles— are so gratifying. Working with such an amazing team and group of ambassadors keeps me inspired to build out this vision we have for the ski community.

There are three pretty key things I’ve learned from this experience: (1) Count on everything taking three times as long and costing three times as much as you expect. And this is after you’ve really thought about how long it’s going to take and how expensive it’s going to be. (2) Simplify your life as much as you can and figure out the bare minimum you need to get by. The longer you can stay in the game, the more you learn and the better your odds are. (3) Balance. Give yourself a break. Take time to do the things that make you happy. Exercise every day, eat well, get plenty of sleep, take care of your mind (hiking, yoga, meditation, or whatever helps you recharge). Fitting these things in can be hard when you don’t have many resources and feel like you should always be working, but it’s so important. They are the foundation for your success and are really the only things wholly within your control. You will be in a much stronger position to weather the inevitable struggles.

At the risk of sounding cliché, remember to enjoy the journey. Skiing can take you to some unbelievable places in this world, which is also part of the fun. Plus, it’s pretty hard to beat the views and the great friends you’ll make in along the way! -Eric Lee O'Brien

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