Why We Started PikaTM

The mountain sport gear industry is ripe for an overhaul. Broadly speaking, much mountain sport equipment, apparel, and related gear was designed decades ago by and for tall, white, male, elite/top athletes. In addition, many mountain sport products are intimidating, highly technical, and require elaborate training to be used properly. Product innovation hasn’t kept up with the rapid evolution and growing popularity of these sports.

Some mountain sports, such as rock climbing, haven’t seen much product innovation beyond better footwear in the past several decades. Very few rock climbing product patents are still active, as only a handful of new products have hit the market within the past 25 years.

Meanwhile, rock climbing has grown and evolved unrecognizably, the diversity of climbers has increased considerably, and climbers’ physical abilities have vastly improved. Competitive climbing leagues are now common, and climbing will make its first appearance in the Olympics in 2020. Rock climbing as a sport has consistently grown at 7-10% annually, with 5-7M climbers in the US now spending more than $600M per year at 856 climbing gyms and 3600 outdoor gear retailers. The global market is about five times as big and is growing at a similar pace. Women and people of color used to comprise a tiny fraction of climbers, but now women comprise nearly half of all climbers, and people of color are a rapidly growing segment as well. Further, the numbers of adolescent, older, and differently-abled climbers are also rapidly increasing.

These trends—also observable in other mountain sports such as ice climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, ultra-marathons, and kayaking—leave big needs and gaps in the gear that could be used to make participation easier, safer, more comfortable, and, in some cases, more stylish for the majority of climbers. At PikaTM, we see countless opportunities to create new products that serve and empower females, people of color, shorter athletes, beginners, intermediates, and other underserved mountain sport athletes. We have designed several products and prototypes to meet these underserved market needs. 

Team

Matt Sparks
Founder, CEO, Inventor
Austin, Texas