Elevator Pitch: WE ARE SNO

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with This week, we’re talking with Ed Raine, co-founder of skiing and snowboarding instructor service WE ARE SNO.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea

Our flagship product is a ski instructor internship. It is aimed at skiers looking to break into the snowsports industry by providing them with the training, accommodation, and certifications required to work as a professional ski instructor. What’s more, we guarantee candidates a paid job offer with our partner schools when they finish the certification. This enables them to spend a full winter season in the mountains and gain the relevant experience to start a career in the industry. For our partner schools, it has its benefits too, providing additional revenue from training, and securing motivated staff to assist with their recruitment drive.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Everything we currently invest in is done so with a long-term lens of a greater brand or better customer experience – we try to think less about short term cost and more about the longterm value to the business. This includes investing in marketing, content and relationships, rather than solely focusing on short-term clicks and discounted sales. We’ve not needed to seek external investment to date, as we’re looking to achieve sustainable and manageable growth which results in unbeatable experiences for our customers, without fail

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?

Scalability is the instructor internships biggest challenge. Ski schools only have a certain number of positions each winter for interns, and this means internships can be spread thinly across lots of resorts. If you spread too thin, the quality can fall. We’re working hard to choose where we run our instructor internships, choosing resorts which are in close proximity and offer room for larger groups of instructors. We’re also working hard to communicate the financial benefit to ski schools, encouraging them to increase the number of internship positions they are comfortable to offer each winter.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

Customer experience is everything in the ski travel industry, so we’re going above and beyond to offer the best. Our instructor internships aren’t simply about training and working as an instructor, they are life-changing experiences where people meet friends for life, experience new cultures and develop as individuals. We’re also ensuring a much higher level of candidate than our competitors, ensuring the ski schools receive only the best instructors and in return, want more of them.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Hubspot CRM has been instrumental in our success. It has allowed a small team of us to do the job of a much large team, allowing us to maintain a personal, trustworthy communication style with a fraction of the time.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

I can’t remember where the advice came from, but it was along the lines of… Business plans don’t work for startups. You waste a huge amount of time trying to predict the future when things are often completely out of your control. Focus on what you can control by building a great product and team.

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