Founder, Storm Mountain Publishing
He talks about snow like other magazine publishers talk about money. Yet Brad Fayfield, founder of Boulder, Colorado-based Storm Mountain publishing, has rather quietly built a 10-year-old, money-making business in a relatively crowded magazine space through launches, innovation and strategic acquisition.
Fayfield launched Freeskier in 1998, betting that young skiers with a snowboarding mentality would revolutionize and rattle the traditional skiing market. Luckily for him, they did.
Largely eschewing the newsstand and subscription model of larger, more established players, he distributed Freeskier free in ski shops, appeasing advertisers at the point of sale. (The magazine has a circulation of 80,000 split between newsstand, subscription and the shop program.) In 2003, the company became profitable. In 2006, Fayfield acquired like-minded but struggling Snowboard.
With a young, increasingly wired demographic, both Snowboard and Freeskier have carved out significant digital space. Freeskier produces a video podcast that is downloaded, on average, 250,000 times a month on iTunes-attracting non-endemic advertisers like Nike and Jeep-and offers a free digital edition of its magazine via its Web site, which recently relaunched with a heavy social networking component. Freeskier's Facebook-style application now has roughly 20,000 registered users-not too bad, considering the site averages 100,000 unique visitors and 1.5 million page views per month.
All of this has led to steady revenue growth for Fayfield (a former member of the U.S. Ski Team), who says the company's revenues have grown some 120 percent in the past three years, with an operating margin of about 20 percent. "My goal is for us to be a $10 million company in three years," says Fayfield. "And it's not an unrealistic goal."
VITAL STATS: Freeskier's popular video podcast series averages 250,000 downloads per month on iTunesâ€”volume that has attracted non-endemic advertisers like Jeep and Nike.