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SnowGate, the dream of two University of Colorado graduates, combines the kiosk-pay platform of B-Cycle and the mobile-friendly efficiency of Uber, to offer convenient locker space and gear storage for skiers.
It started as a group project at CU, but after a few wins in the business competition circuit and graduation, SnowGate became a full-time business for Christian Nitu and Cory Finney. “A couple weeks before we graduated we looked at each other and said, ‘We’re having fun, this is a great idea, why don’t we not go get real jobs and why don’t we try and do this,’” Nitu says.
The company just finished its first season in business. After pitching the prototype locker to executives at ski resorts around Denver, SnowGate set up its first outpost of 71 units at Winter Park. The lockers rent for $2 an hour between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and $8 overnight. The kiosk-style payment and mobile usability mean no one is required to oversee the lockers.
SnowGate partners with a resort to install a bank of lockers at major access points on the mountain. A kiosk is attached to each grouping with a credit card reader so users can pay on-site the way they might pay to park in a lot in downtown Denver or to rent a bike using B-Cycle. The SnowGate app is available on iOS and Android. It allows users to pay, reserve a locker, and share their key through their phones. “The thing that makes this stand out in the industry and the thing that is brand new is the mobile technology,” Nitu says. “For a family who is going up on a busy day, you can actually reserve the locker sitting at your house in Denver,” Nitu says.
After a successful season in Winter Park where the lockers generated more than $30,000, the founders of SnowGate are planning to expand into other areas. This summer they are working on contracts at ski resorts in Canada, California, Utah, and a few additional locations in Colorado. And it doesn’t stop at ski lockers. The founders see the SnowGate platform expanding to beach locker rentals and gym locker rentals. They are also in the process of creating an add-on to store and lock bicycles. All of which gives us more reasons to travel.