What started out as a buddy trip to a dozen or so ski resorts in western Canada is turning out to be a successful internet marketing business for Jared Skoreyko and Mark Milburn, creators of the newly launched www.mountainu.com website.
Mountainu—as in “Mountain U.”—targets college-age Canadian skiers and snowboarders, and any others looking to get into the sport. It offers university students bargain prices on lift tickets, accommodation packages and promos, plus web hosting to ski clubs and social networking for things like ride sharing all for free. Mountainu also (the founders hope) shows ski resorts an original way to market.
In 2006, Milburn, a University of Victoria student and Skoreyko, a Camosun College student, took off from their home base on Vancouver Island, BC to not only ski and snowboard at some of the best-known resorts in Canada, but to find out what resorts were doing to attract the hip, college demographic often featured in lifestyle commercials peddling everything from beer to cell phones.
What they found was that—perhaps driven by the “poor student” stereotype—very few ski resorts were interested in paying more than lip service to a potentially lucrative demographic. Skoreyko and Milburn pitched their new biz to the annual Canadian Snow Industry Symposium at Sun Peaks Resort.
“We were the two youngest guys in attendance by far,” Milburn says. “But once the resorts found out what we were trying to do, the response was phenomenal.” Now not only is this a way to reach out to the college students, it’s also an example to the industry, showing that this is one of the newest and most effective ways to reach this important demographic.
Milburn says the goal for this winter ski season is to add a new discount bi-weekly or monthly. And keeping true to the student penchant for pinching pennies, there’s even a virtual marketplace to buy and sell—everything from skis and snowboard equipment to used textbooks. Unload that secondhand copy of Beowulf or a pair of rusty-edged Rossignols. Gotta get that money to buy lift tickets from somewhere, right?