March 8, 2015
Continuing on the path of learning about movers and shakers in the action sports industry, I had the pleasure to interview RIDERS about their mobile app. They offer an iOS and Android application that allows users to learn and share tricks in action sports such as skateboarding, BMX or skiing. Igor Debatur and Tolya Chernyakov filled us in on the journey of building RIDERS (with slight revisions for clarity):
Where did the idea come from?
We were really into mountain biking, skateboarding and the like. However, when we wanted to learn a few tricks, it turned out that there were practically no decent instructional videos, and even text instructions were hard to come by. The search for tutorials turned into this hunt across a large number of websites and forums, so we thought – why not have everything at our fingertips? Which is where the idea came from.
How long have you been working on the product?
We started by creating a website dedicated to extreme sports. We had three streams: news, events and a selection of self-produced tutorial videos. Initially, we did not focus on the third section, but it soon became obvious that it was the most popular. We gave it our full attention and realized that it would be way more convenient for our users to have a trick database on hand when they’re actually riding, and a mobile app was much more suitable for that than a website.
The first version of the mobile app was released March 25, 2013, a year after going into development.
Did this stem from an incubator, hackathon, or previous endeavor?
Our first business is Whitescape, a web development company. It’s still operating and has a great team that continues to develop the company. After Whitescape, we launched Uploadcare, a SaaS product for web and mobile developers, which is also successfully growing. Moreover, before launching our own start-ups, we’d worked at various large companies doing programming and design.
We didn’t participate in incubators and hackathons, but we did take part in a couple of training programs, one of which was held in the Silicon Valley in 2013. It really helped us learn to prioritize and cut down on unnecessary tasks, though time will tell if it’s actually worked.
Are you raising money to build or bootstrapping?
The first app version launched with money earned form Whitescape. We then raised a seed round, and have now begun to attract investors for a Series A.
Who comprises your team and what are their roles?
Our team has two founders (filling a wide variety of roles), who are also working on the app UX and UI, a few programmers and a cameraman. Nine people overall.
How big is the market?
The market is huge, millions of people all over the world are interested in extreme sports. In some countries, the percentage of alpine skiers is over 60%, and RIDERS is helping them get better, which is awesome. Obviously, we want to reach everyone. The big picture for us is improving the level and safety of riding across the globe.
What are your short and long term goals?
Short term, we are preparing the release of a bunch of things that we have been hunkered down working on these last few months. We will be launching a complete version of the website with all the available content, a new app design with crucial new features, a competition system, geolocation – and much more we’d rather not disclose just yet. Stay tuned!
What problems does your product/company solve?
When a person gets into any sport, many are faced with a common set of issues:
– Who to ride with
– What equipment to choose
– Where to purchase equipment
– How to fall down less
– How to have more fun
– How to learn new tricks
We are already addressing some of these issues and working on solutions to the rest. The app takes the user from the very basics to more advanced techniques, with suggestions on what to do next, sharing progress with friends and community along the way.
What sort of competition are you up against?
Similar apps exist, but we have our own way of doing things. We launched ahead of the curve, didn’t clone anyone, and none of our competitors know where we are headed. The competition has not changed our approach, and in fact they are helping us by creating and growing this new market.
What has been the easiest, and contrarily the most difficult aspect to building?
The most difficult aspect has been concentration. We have had to work at it for years. It’s very important to focus on a single project, any other scenarios are destructive. Not much has been easy so far. Which hasn’t put us off – if things were simple, it wouldn’t be half as interesting!
Who inspires you?
We’re inspired by people who do things that move the world forward and change it for the better.
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