The ultimate ski and snowboard bag isn’t what you might expect from the name
Ski and snowboard enthusiasts travel more and carry increasingly advanced equipment. Why is it so hard to bring the equipment along? This was the start for two young entrepreneurs who broke that code. Practically before they had a prototype it took off internationally. Before the startup company was one month old they had distribution agreements in ten countries and won an innovation prize at the world’s largest sports exhibition (ISPO).
It all started in the summer four years ago, during a week of sunny glacier skiing and epic surf in the beautiful western part of Norway. During that week, twin-tip legend and GS skier Jon Olsson met up with product engineer and entrepreneur Truls Brataas, and the two discovered a mutual passion for action sports, traveling, and smart product design.
With Jon traveling more than 300 days a year for the past ten years, they knew that they wanted to design new types of travel bags that reflected the needs of a modern skier. They interviewed 150 skiers, snowboarders and surfers to find out what the core user really wanted in a travel bag. They even went to airline companies and worked together with luggage handlers to learn how to make bags better suited for travel. No other bag is treated as well as The Douchebag. This is because it has been designed based on requests of the baggage handlers themselves.
They had to develop new technology. Therefore they involved ski bum and designer Per Finne. Back in 1984 Per Finne was the very first person to make a snowboard with a laminated base in Norway, making him the fastest snowboarder in all of Scandinavia during the 80s. They also involved the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Technology Transfer Office. This is a professional organization when it comes to protecting intellectual property and creating value out of research from the university. Douchebag and the TTO have been working closely to ensure that the Douchebag intellectual property is secured and the unique technology is protected by a World Wide PCT Patent Pending. The founders sewed the first prototypes themselves. Later the prototype was brought to a firm that manufactures bags for the Norwegian military.
In 2012 sales reached 2.5 million NOK and results 217,000 NOK. The company’s projection for last year was sales of 4.5 million. Today they have distribution agreements with 300 stores in 20 countries. They expect solid growth in the next years. The entrepreneurs themselves believe their reason for success is innovative products, Jon Olsson’s huge international network and brand, and the fact that the company at a very early stage received an international innovation award. However, all this would not have been possible without extremely hard work.
Today their products are the most innovative traveling systems on the market. What makes them so great? First, it has a Length Adjustment System that accommodates any size gear while remaining rigid and supportive. It’s lightweight enough to be under airlines’ limits even with the weight of skis or snowboard, and it rolls up when not in use, taking up very little space. Finally, it comes with wheels and a removable shoulder strap that allows it to be rolled along behind you. As the company’s website asks, “Still wondering why girls always hook up with a douchebag?”
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 28, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.