animatorYour wisdom is very much appreciated Scott. I have huge respect for what you and the ON3P crew do and where you came from. I hope to start this as a side hustle and once I have a dialed product, hopefully make it into a full time gig. I will 100% be hitting you up. Thank you
Now that we're through the this-is-going-to-be-harder-than-you-think portion of the advice - here is just some general thoughts.
First, for the love of god, make the name easy to say. People will literally see a 3 and say "you know what - I bet that is just ironic and they mean that as an E" when there is literally, absolutely, positively no fucking reason to think that.
Separate the finances as early as you can. Will help immensely as you get down the line when need to start pricing. Can help avoid a situation where you overextend yourself.
Re: Ski Press. Keep it simple. Weld if you can (or pay someone to do it for you). Make sure it can do a pair. Anything not heat cured isn't worth your time. Or best case - buy one already made. There are more out there than you think.
CNCs are your friend. Final someone local with one.
You don't need to start building with the best materials (IE - skip the custom 1.8mm base material to start). Focus on process and consistency. You can build up the material quality later. Remember that things like ski edges...are sold by weight. Twice the steel = twice the cost.
Material prep and prep consistency is huge. A lot of things fail because the materials are just not prepped correctly for bonding.
Keep things tight on tolerance.
Read everything on the skibuilders forum. A lot of people ahead of you have run into issues you will - and solved + posted about them.
Take PPE seriously.
Give yourself time. You are trying to enter a market that is utterly flush with competitors. This isn't a first-to-market type situation. You really only have one shot at a first impression and people will hold things against your brand years after they happen.
Just ignore what other brands are doing. That won't always be easy - but it isn't worth your time worrying about.
Shopify is the e-commerce platform to use. Don't waste time researching others - it is where you will end up.
Shop around when talking to insurance agents. Liability insurance is expensive and having someone willing to go to bat for you will save you a lot of money down the line.
Don't skimp on tool purchases. "Buy Once - Cry Once" does apply here.
Same on ski materials. Don't try to make random materials work. Stick with known materials from ski industry suppliers.
Increase every budget and time estimate 3x what you expect. That still probably won't be enough.
Start researching Lean & 5S now. I swear to god I've probably spent a month of my life just walking around ski factories looking for things like a tape measure or screwdriver. Now I Kanban toothpaste at home. I cannot stress enough how much time and money incorporating those principals early will save you.
Make sure you give customers a value-added reason you are different. Don't start a brand just to start a brand. That will end up being a core part of your identify.