Salvador Devant is a former EAE student who took the Executive MBA with us. He is the founding partner of Skitic, an online platform the gives users the information they need to plan a ski trip. The lecturer on the School’s Master in Commercial and Sales Management, he has extensive experience in companies such as International Team Consulting and WinefineDay.
The first question is a standard requirement. What is Skitic and what is its value proposition?
Skitic is marketplace, online and via an app, which lets you obtain your ski pass and plan your ski trip from just a single day upwards, contracting everything you need from insurance to equipment or food. If you plan on skiing for more than one day, of course, you can also book your hotel.
With Skitic you save time and money. You save time because you have everything that you need all in one place and money because all of the prices and offers that you find on Skitic are cheaper than buying them at the piste. In some cases, we can offer you a discount of up to almost 35%.
You have already completed a number of rounds of financing. Could you explain what this has involved and what stages of the process you would highlight?
Raising financial resources is always a decisive factor in the development of a startup, but it should never be used as an excuse not to drive the project forward.
We are taking part in the acceleration process run by Conector, a startup accelerator based in Barcelona, with mentors as great as Carlos Blanco, Xavier Verdaguer, Pau García Milà and Marc Ros. This environment has facilitated access to the first investors, starting with the mentors, who are providing support for the development of the project, and Carlos Blanco himself, the owner of Conector. To date, we have raised €100,000 of investment, plus €60,000 as a loan from ENISA.
The first round of investment will take place on the 11th February at IESE. We expect to reach between €150,000 and €200,000 there, which will be spent on user acquisition and international development.
What does a Business Angel focus on when investing in a technology-based project?
Each investor focus on certain aspects or others depending on their experience and interests. However, at a general level, we could say that investors take into account the cohesion of the project, the strategic plan, the team, the objectives and the entry price for joining the company. All of this must be underpinned by logic and driven by a good work team that is dedicated to the project full-time. If they are not exclusively working on the project, there is no investment.
Talking of the team, one of the most highly valued aspects by investors. Could you give us a brief overview of the profile of Skitic’s founder?
There are four founding partners: Tomás Pagès, a classmate of mine on the Executive MBA, who is in charge of the communication and content design; my brother Agustí Devant, who came up with the original idea for Skitic and who is overseeing the business development and investor relations; Marc Martí, who helped us with the initial website development and is in charge of systems; and me, responsible for commercial development and marketing strategies.
Both my brother and I have fairly long careers behind us, with both of us having started up businesses in sectors as diverse as services and consumer goods. This prior experience has helped to facilitate the way in which we deal with the challenges that Skitic presents us.
Business schools have increasingly become a centre of gravity for the entrepreneurial ecosystem, as demonstrated by the fact that Skitic originated during your time on EAE’s Executive MBA. At what stage of the process has it made the most valuable contribution?
The Executive MBA has been crucial in terms of structuring the business model and defining the project’s value propositions extremely well. It has contributed hugely towards focusing the strategies and structuring the company in each of the phases. In view of the fact that, as in the case of almost any company, the resources do not meet the needs, we have learned to prioritize and allocate resources to key areas for the development of Skitic.
As soon as you go on to the website, it is immediately evident that, right from the start, you have an international scope, offering a range of services beyond Spain’s borders. Could you give us some insight into your plans for the future in this respect?
We currently display information on 700 ski resorts in Spain, Andorra, France and the Alps. We have reached agreements with all of the ski resorts in Spain and the South of France to sell their ski passes.
For next season, we want to be selling the services of all of the resorts in the Alps and prepare for the leap to other continents for the 2018-2019 season.
One of the areas that requires the greatest investment for any startup is customer acquisition. What are the key pillars of your marketing plan?
You have hit the nail on the head! Attracting users is crucial, especially in an online business. We are currently allocating around 30% of our budget on this objective and, next year, we will need to increase this up to 40% or 45%.
Our marketing strategy is based on SEO and SEM, offline communication, earned media and guerrilla actions, such as putting Skitic stickers on the helmets of certain ski equipment hire companies in the Catalan Pyrenees.
Throughout all of our communications, we strive to convey our superiorities with a view stimulating the desire to go skiing.
Lastly, what objectives have you set in the medium to long term?
In the medium to long term, we aim toevolve our platform and offer more options to our users. As a result, by being more versatile and offering users better services, we will strive to consolidate Skitic’s position as the starting point for any skier when organizing a ski trip.
Last but not least, if you will allow me, I would like to give a little something to all of the skiers in the Alumni and offer them an additional 5% discount on top of those that they can find on our platform. To get this discount when making a purchase, just enter the promotional code EAE5 at the checkout.
Happy skiing everyone!!