Action sports enthusiasts are really taking the internet by storm. As vibrant and outgoing as action sports athletes are, it's no wonder their followers are coming in and thriving on social media. The market has been created and lead by the likes of Red Bull, Monster, and GoPro and is now welcoming the launch of a new player: Shrick. I had the pleasure of interviewing Artem Davydov, marketing manager at Shrick, which I have revised (for clarity):
Where did the idea for Shrick come from?
Four years ago we had an idea to create a self-organizing system, that would measure sport achievements and social weight of any action sports athlete. We wanted this ecosystem to be friendly to both ‘stars’ and newbies. The minimum objective was making this system enjoyable to everyone. When we started discussing what we called the ‘success-meter’ for extreme sports athletes, we didn't imagine that it would transcend into a community and beyond.
How long have you been working on the app?
We created the first prototype in March 2014, while the development began in April. Prior to that, the idea had been formulating for two or three years. It emerged initially, then we would postpone or forget about it, and then resurrect it again with some key alterations and enhancements – and then the cycle would repeat.
Did this stem from an incubator, hackathon, previous website, company, etc?
The idea came up in a circle of a few close friends, who always had great ideas to talk about – isn’t this the ultimate incubator? All of us have are action sports enthusiasts of some kind: board sports, water sports, etc. We wouldn’t say that we wanted to overhaul and overturn the world of extreme sports, but we did want to make it slightly more interesting, and spice it up a little bit (or perhaps a lot).
Are you raising money to build or bootstrapping?
Right now we have enough funds to secure growth, but in the near future we have not ruled out the option that we will bring on an investor, especially as we evaluate user interest for our current beta. Another important factor to this will be based on our app’s adoption, and whether it exceeds our forecast.
Who comprises your team and what are there roles?
Our team is growing almost every day. Many of our adopters find the idea very appealing and they join the crew almost on pure enthusiasm. At first we had only a CEO, who was overwhelmed with an impossible bulk of tasks on all fronts, and a team of programmers. Now we have our own PR, SMM and Design departments, as well as a technical director. What makes our team special, is that it’s multinational, multilingual, and is scattered across different time zones. Finally, we have an extraordinary team of dedicated athletes who’s support is impossible to overestimate, and among all things they are the strictest critics of what we do.
How big is the market, and how much of it do you plan to penetrate?
We are primarily targeting the major English-speaking countries: USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. The market is immense. We estimate that 1/10 people in these markets are into some kind of action sport, either professionally or for fun. Our target audience is broader than it seems at first glance. Others may not be partaking in the sports personally, but still enjoy spectating and follow extreme sports content in general. Shrick features intuitive search and flexible filtering options, which makes it a great on-demand extreme video service. Into skiing? Watch ski tricks, fails, or explore the latest gear trends. Want more surfing in your life? We have it too. We provide the platform for people to search for a particular trick, lifestyle content, equipment or even fails.
What are your short and long term goals?
Our short term goal is, of course, launching a stable and bug-free product that includes all the crucial features that are essential for a high-quality experience. Our next immediate milestone is to drop the invite-only registration and open the app to everyone. More of a strategic target long term goal for us, is turning Shrick into a social platform that unites everyone who share a passion for action sports-and we have plenty of ideas up the sleeve that will help us achieve that goal.
What problems does Shrick solve?
Just recently one of our team riders published an open letter, explaining why he decided to drop out one of the most elite and prestigious global competitions. To cut the long story short, he made the decision to drop after learning that the organizers had modified the competition to a less challenging one, in order to drive customers to a resort they had partnered with. Unfortunately, this is not a unique problem, as many companies skip qualification rounds and simply invite top stars in order to market their events. We are advocating for real tournaments and we will be able to introduce a platform for serious qualifying in the future.
In addition to this key issue, there are a quite few goals and solutions we offer:
- We let people compete with each other, even if the rival is on the opposite side of the globe. Simultaneously we allow our users to find out who local leaders are in their community or among friends.
- We give people a new opportunity to learn. Our database is already packed with tricks for most action sports disciplines. This means every rider can post their tricks or see how others from all over the world are doing tricks.
- We let users explore the gear market. e.g. letting them find out what their favorite pro-athletes are riding, as well as follow the latest equipment fashion trends.
- Ultimately, having fun! We have a whole Fail section in the app, viewing of which causes a wide variety of emotions! This category also allows would-be athletes to learn by watching other the mistakes of others. As an added benefit, watching failures provides sense of how challenging certain sports or tricks can be.
What has been the easiest, and contrarily the most difficult aspect to building the app or company?
Coming up with an abstract model, in theory, was almost a no-brainer. Building up a clear structure and making it easy to understand and work with was harder. Making our dream a reality was even more challenging. However, the toughest thing, to be honest, was waiting.. then waiting again, postponing, and waiting again. We had to delay the launch a number of times, only because of the bugs that sprung up at the worst moment possible, or at times because we had new ideas we felt were crucial to launch. However, now that we are launch nothing is going to stop us now.
Who inspires you?
Our users, our audience! You can’t even imagine how many amazing photos, videos and comments we received in just three days since the launch of the public beta! We have one key message to everyone who supports us and believes in us: keep it up people, and thank you so much!
Shrick seems like a very exciting new product, built for all the right reasons. Check out the iphone app, and comment here and let us know what you think!