By Amie Henderson
You hear the term ‘lifestyle business’ and what do you imagine? Ski bums justifying their year-round in-resort life to their parents? Retirees explaining their sudden purchase of a ski chalet to rent to holidaymakers for a few weeks each season?
Lifestyle businesses are the backbone of Morzine, Les Gets and Avoriaz. The number of season workers or career-breakers carving out a niche for themselves in the mountains versus those returning to a ‘proper job’ back in Blighty is growing steadily each year.
But don’t for one second imagine that these ‘lifestyle businesses’ are an excuse to doss about in the mountains. Our little corner of the Alps has a growing number of serious businessmen and women launching ambitious, value-driven enterprises, having identified very strong opportunities to combine their passion for life with their drive to work hard.
Meet Doug Stidolph and Mickey Fitz. A mutual friend introduced them last winter here in Morzine. They were both launching their digital businesses at the same time and they shared a passion to build their new ventures without sacrificing their lifestyle. After a few beers they decided this made them ‘adventurepreneurs’.
Scroll forward a couple of months. Mickey calls Doug after a disappointing day at a startup branding master class in London. He’d gone to be inspired while launching his own action sports video editing company. He quickly realised that the so-called ‘experts’ he’d paid to listen to really couldn’t help him achieve his own vision. He felt their message was superficial and missed the passion of the mountain sports industry. Mickey wanted to grow his business while having fun with his mates. Doug agreed this was totally possible. The Action Academy was born.
“So many adventurepreneurs live in the mountains because that’s where their inspiration is” founder Doug Stidolph explains. “They have all the drive and determination they need, but because they’re so spread out, they don’t often have the tools or the contacts to get things up and running. Every night in London there’s an industry-specific networking event or workshop tailored for start-ups. Action Academy provides the talks, workshops and networking opportunities but in a fun, inspiring setting, specifically tailored to our industry and our way of life.”
The first Action Academy event was held at London’s Olympic Park in October. 50 adventurepreneurs signed up to a daylong, launch-focused event titled Dropping In. Featuring speakers including the founders of SunGod, Van Loon Sport, Retro Rentals and more, presentations focused on experiences in business and lessons learned, while action sports PR specialist Cameron Hall from Holmlands discussed social media and brand awareness. The pace was fast, the audience was focused and the end of day networking session ran late into the evening. As a result, Doug and Mickey are set to launch Action Academy events across the UK and in the Alps this winter off the back of their first event.
“The days of sacrificing your lifestyle while you grow your business are long gone” Mickey explains. “I want to build my business whilst surrounded by my target audience. Being amongst people who share my values and passions for action sports is my biggest motivator”.
If you’re sitting on an idea for a mountain-based business, or if you’re in the early launch stages, you’ll no doubt be keen to know what Action Academy have planned for the future. “You don’t have to go to the city to build something big” Doug believes. And based on the sheer numbers of inspiring start-up businesses we work with here at Source Magazine each year, we couldn’t agree more.
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