SHRED OPTICS and SLYTECH PROTECTION – Interview with Partners, Ted Ligety, Carlo Salmini, and Federico Merle
February 25, 2016
Shred Optics and Slytech Protection are brands born by bringing together an Olympic gold medalist (Ted Ligety, 2 golds), an MIT educated Engineer and alpine skier (Carlo Salmini), and an MIT educated credit and derivatives trader with a marketing mind (Federico Merle). Good things come in threes. There’s a lot to be learned in this story, paying close attention will reveal useful information. Enjoy.
How did you all connect with each other initially and how have you been able to use your unique backgrounds to make Anomaly Action Sports what it is today?
After Ted won his first Olympics in Torino, he suddenly had this big platform to stand on in the public eye, and the first thing he wanted to do was to create something to stand on outside of his young but successful ski career. I went out to Park City to visit him that summer, and as we tossed around ideas for something to work on together, we settled on the snow optics market, realizing that there were no brands combining the technological performance that race brands offered, and the style that lifestyle brands offered. There was a market gap where we could combine our product know-how and lifestyle experience to create something truly unique. That was the beginning of SHRED: the perfect combination of style and performance.
CS: We do have a very different management team than all of our competitors, and even looking outside the industry, I can’t imagine seeing a team of partners with such different and complementary backgrounds as ours, especially with a two time Olympic gold medalist and five time World Champ.
FM: Well, our entrance into mountain biking is only one of the progressive steps we have taken as we have grown. First and foremost, after our restructuring a little more than three years ago, we positioned ourselves in freeskiing, alpine, and snowboarding as two of the strongest brands with the most talented and diverse teams in the market. Moving to mountain biking was really the second step we took, and the third has been moving into surfing as well as the lifestyle markets with our sunglass collection supported by the same Three Pillar framework.
CS: For us, product perfection is paramount. It’s not a line we use for PR. We just really want to take care of our consumers, our athletes, and in a selfish way our families andfriends. We want to give the action sport enthusiast access to the best gear on the market to improve their experience and protect them against the inevitable.
Ted Ligety (2X Olympic Gold Medal Winner)
Ted Ligety: My wife, Mia, always says to her friends and family who aren’t endemic action sports enthusiasts that she just feels better when I am out competing using Shred and Slytech gear because she understands the level of technical and safety innovation that goes into each product we make.
What do you look for in athletes and how do you use their expertise to the brand’s advantage?
TL: First and foremost, we want athletes who are looking to and are enthusiastic about joining our family. After all, this is an athlete born and run company, so we want to make sure that our athletes will be as involved as possible in the progression of the brands.
FM: We have something called our Marketing 360 strategy, which is based around print advertising, product guides/reviews, web activities, social media, and movies. Our aim is to contact each consumer in every market through at least two of these mediums at least twice a season. Athletes and their expertise play a very important role in the marketing 360, because in the end it is their talent that gives them both relevance and placement in the media, movies, and top of mind in consumer perspective.
The key difference in our marketing strategy is not our Marketing 360; it’s that we’re very good at building brands and monetizing marketing investment, and the Marketing 360 is our method toward those ends.
CS: We want athletes that are very involved in the other two pillars: product +input on marketing 360.
TL: Exactly, we don’t want ambassadors or figureheads. We want family members who are involved in the foundation and progression of our Three Pillars.
What is unique about your team riders as a whole?
TL: What’s unique about our teams is the simple fact that in each respective market we not only build, but also cultivate, heavy hitting teams filled with athletes who are constantly pushing their respective sports, themselves, and Shred and Slytech to new heights.
Our freeski team is one of the strongest on the market, our snowboard team is filled with legends and the next generation of legends, our alpine team has more Olympic and World Championship medals than we know what to do with, and our core bike and surf teams are continuing to grow by the week.
What’s next for Shred Optics and Slytech Protection?
The brands have been growing super aggressively over the last three years. We are constantly analyzing new sources of growth from our markets and in new markets, as well as new sources of revenue such as licensing some of our technologies.
We are completely committed to growing our influence and continuing to push our Three Pillar framework.