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Building A Brand And A Sport – Burton Snowboards

02/27/2014

jake8Jake Carpenter – brand builder and sport creator. Name doesn’t ring a bell? Here’s a hint. His middle name is Burton.

Jake Burton Carpenter is the man behind Burton Snowboards and likely the single most impactful individual behind the half billion dollar snowboard industry (2011/12 Statistic Brain stats).

I work with start-ups regularly. Creating meaningful momentum for a start-up is no small task. Success is less likely than running out of capital, energy or hope.

Carpenter is featured in the March issue of Inc. magazine. In the article Carpenter says the second year was when he hit ‘rock bottom financially’. He recalled taking a road trip to sell boards, loading 35 into his station wagon. He came back with 37 because one of the shop owners returned two he had previously bought. That’s tough to swallow.

Burton snowboards faced an even bigger challenge than retailers returning boards. Snowboarding was not even a ‘sport’ in 1977. Carpenter saw the potential of snowboarding and never tired in evangelizing snowboarding. Burton began sponsoring snowboarders in 1981. Those relationships gave Carpenter and Burton insight into the minds and motivations of the target demographic. That may have been the most instrumental move in Burton’s history.

Today Burton employs 845 people worldwide, owns a 35% market share, snowboarding is now an Olympic sport and Carpenter snowboards 100 days a year.

I admire Carpenter both for his brand building and his contribution to the snow sports industry. I will point to his challenges and successes with the start-ups I’m engaged with.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Juetta West permalink
    02/27/2014 3:46 pm

    Rick, I love when you put a dangling carrot in front of me. Great write up on Burton Snowboards and I wish them sweet success!

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