How CARV is helping skiers better their technique both on and off the slopes
Carv is a digital ski coach designed to assist skiers by tracking performance and offering real time feedback. It consists of a wearable device placed inside each ski boot that uses multiple sensors to measure pressure and motion. That data is transferred to the skier’s smartphone via bluetooth, delivering performance analysis and feedback after a ski run, or in real time via headphones. By offering live coaching and audible feedback to a skier, Carv provides a novel, physical education experience in the world of sports training.
Carv by MotionMetrics, is the brainchild of UK-based co-founders Jamie Grant (CEO) and Pruthvikar Reddy (CTO). Born out of Grant’s PhD research and a frustration with his own skiing progress, Grant asked “Can we make a product that actually tries to teach a skill in sports? Everything before us was just looking at tracking distance or time that you're skiing … we wanted to go one step further.” Quickly realising that a smartphone app alone could not provide meaningful feedback on ski technique, Grant and Reddy decided to develop an accompanying hardware product, building initial prototypes on the open-source Arduino platform.
A successful application to SOSV’s Hax accelerator program supplied MotionMetrics with its first $100,000 USD of investment and an opportunity to go to Shenzhen, China. There, MotionMetrics was able to develop sophisticated electronic prototypes for Carv that would have been prohibitively costly in the UK. The team refined their prototypes, testing them with professional skiers such as David Ryding, while also developing supporting software for the device.
MotionMetrics was able to capitalise on their testing and development with a short documentary full of interviews with professional skiers who had used Carv. The team used this to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016, which was funded to the tune of over $275,000 USD, well above the $50,000 USD they were seeking. Moreover, the Kickstarter campaign provided MotionMetrics with additional publicity, attracting new talent such as VP of Engineering, Jamie Salter, who joined the team and moved to China to help build a supply chain.
The manufacturing process was more complex than anticipated, and Carv shipped to its Kickstarter backers a year later than promised. But MotionMetrics continued to develop and refine their approach, attracting more skiers and garnering an enviable collection of advisors and investors. Grant attributes much of this success to Carv’s novelty in its market segment, saying “we get a lot more press than other companies of the same size, because the product is quite unique and interesting”.
New slopes to traverse
As a seasonal, direct-to-consumer product, ensuring that Carv and MotionMetrics are able to grow and improve is no simple matter. Grant acknowledges that “As you grow from your initial base of customers, marketing gets harder and harder.” But in making their initial Kickstarter video, MotionMetrics discovered that video content could be a strong driving factor for the brand and they began developing a wider content strategy around YouTube, and more recently, email. Instead of focusing on advertising videos with expensive stunts, Carv has been building a library of self-improvement videos to support skiers seeking to improve.
In the last year, Carv has moved from a one-off purchase to a subscription model to better support future growth. Grant estimates that “about 75% of R&D spending is actually in the software.” Carv’s digital coaching is already helping extend the customer journey, providing members with exercises and stretches they can do at home in preparation for their time on the slopes. Given the seasonality of their product, MotionMetrics is beginning to expand its presence in the Southern Hemisphere, focusing on their Australian market and user base.
MotionMetrics is dedicated to spending the next year focused on Carv and its position in the ski industry, but as Grant says, “We think there's huge potential across different verticals in sports to create very powerful products that get people better at sports technique. We're very focused on skiing right now, but we see our model being applied to other verticals as time goes on.”
Podcast: To learn more about Carv, a real-time coaching service for skiers worldwide, listen to Tim and Ali’s full chat with CEO and Co-founder Jamie Grant on our Artehouse Innovation series at