Greek Peak – Like a Startup with a Failed Business Model

Most of you know about the huge snow storm that we got in the Northeast this past Friday evening.  In Ithaca, we got only about 6 inches of snow.  At my sister’s house in Amherst, MA, they got over 20 inches.  Our local ski area, Greek Peak, got about 8 inches.  And, luckily, me and my family (wife and 2 kids ages 7 and 11) were skiing during the storm.  We got to the ski area around 3:30pm and left there around 8pm.  It is only about 30 minutes from Ithaca.

It was actually unbelievable skiing.  I had not been night skiing since middle school.  It was my wife’s first time and same for my kids.  It was warm (for night skiing) – about 28 degrees.  And there was no wind.  Just snow coming down in buckets at the rate of like 1 to 2 inches an hour.  Almost surreal.  It was Epic Powder Skiing.  Here is a funny picture when the night was done:

Epic Power Night

So, what does any of this have to do with startups and business?  Well, Greek Peak filed for bankruptcy last year.  They overbuilt the resort and cannot handle the debt load.  They now have a really nice hotel, indoor water park, adventure rides, zip lines, and a very cool ropes course.

The problem:  the mountain is in the middle of no where and there is not enough “people traffic” to support the amenities.  To me this is a great example of why “build it and they will come” does not work.  Pushing products out into an non-receptive or non-existent market is a risky strategy.  All it produces is a lot of forced hot air being blown out.  Like pushing a rope uphill.  Rarely works.

I am sure that the marketing folks at Greek Peak hired consultants to justify the build out. Perhaps the consultants’ reports were wrong.  I really don’t know.  But I do think a smarter approach would have been a slow build based on real customer demand, followed by critical mass building, followed by more build out, etc.

Sound familiar?  Even some startups have to take a slow and steady build approach.  All depends on the business model.  I hope Greek Peak survives.  As my son said “it would be really sad if the mountain closes down!”.