WINTER PARK —Winter Park Resort is home to a new kind of high-tech ski locker.
It utilizes a smartphone application, allowing skiers and boarders to secure gear and purchase locker space at the base with a push of a button.
The lockers were the inception of SnowGate, a two-year-old company which began as a class project in a University of Colorado Boulder entrepreneurship class. It’s now run by two of the original six undergraduates who came up with the concept.
SnowGate’s founders say the app-driven locker system is revolutionary in the industry. Their smartphone app not only allows skiers and boarders to unlock and lock their equipment from their phone, it also allows them to purchase locker space ahead of time and reserve a space for upcoming ski days. They’re rented with a credit card, and have room to store two pairs of adult skis along with other personal belongings, like boots and helmets.
The lockers have been well-received since the company’s soft launch at Winter Park Resort this year, according to Christian Nitu, SnowGate’s chief of marketing and co-founder.
“We saw a huge number of people using it in the beginning of the season,” Nito said.
Nitu said that resort guests like to use the locker system for its ease of use and the ability to leave their gear at the base of the resort rather than having to lug their equipment to and from their hotel every morning.
The idea for the company spawned after one of the founder’s ski equipment was stolen from the resort base, and it won a number of awards from CU’s business school. The student founders used the winnings and heir savings to start the company.
“I like to think lockers aren’t really sexy,” Nitu said. “Our story is kind of the cooler thing.”
The six college seniors scraped together $10,000 to get the company going have since grown it to be worth $345,000.
“We are just riding the roller coaster of a start-up life,” Nitu said.
Though four of the original six founders of the company have since left, Nitu and SnowGate CEO Corey Finney are sticking with the idea. Winter Park Resort is the only place currently using the new locker system, but Nitu and Finney want it to catch on at other resorts and with other sports.
“Really the ski stuff is just the tip of the iceberg,” Nitu said. “Our goal is to make it work in the ski industry and then take it to beaches and universities and make it a universal system for on-the-go storage.”
Nitu said he hopes to see the company become the storage solution around the world as well.
The lockers are 100-percent manufactured in Lousiville, making SnowGate a purely Colorado company.
According to Nitu, Winter Park Resort has helped the company immensely by allowing them to use prime-time locker real estate at the resort’s base and helping to market their product.
“Being able to use their marketing channels has been great and will help us expand in the future,” Nitu said.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334