The Wednesday Short – September 25, 2013

Sports Business Canada recently stumbled upon a Kickstarter project called Colt Hockey. The group at Colt Hockey is seeking to make a more durable composite hockey stick that delivers the same high performance of the current composite sticks on the market. Basically, the group has played hockey, and watched hockey recently. How often is your team’s sniper in prime position to rip a snapshot on net, only to have the stick explode on them? Or how often is your team’s faceoff ace ready to win that key defensive zone draw, only do have the stick break on contact? Or how about bogus slashing penalties because the stick breaks?

Colt Hockey has found a key opportunity in the sport of hockey. The current hockey sticks are great, they’re light, and they turn a regular strength shot into a bomber. However, they just aren’t durable enough. The players are leaning on them, and destroying them. There is definitely a threat.

However, before we recommend you throw your hard earned money behind this Kickstarter project, let’s do a quick Porter’s Five Forces to set some reasonable expectations on the company:

1)      Threat of New Entrants – It appears as though their metal supplier has patents, so assuming they have the exclusive rights to that metal for hockey sticks then that’ll limit the threat of new entrants. However, there are probably numerous metals that can do what this metal alloy is doing for Colt Hockey. Many of the people in this space (Easton, RBK, Mission, etc.) could do this type of technology as a line extension. (Medium)

2)      Threat of Substitute Products – There are numerous hockey stick manufacturers. Sure, this will be more durable, and longer lasting, however it depends on the price point. If the stick is double the cost, the threat of substitutes is high. If a player gets similar performance from a different stick, maybe the threat is higher. It is hard to examine this without knowing the price. However, it appears to be between $370 and $500. (High)

3)      Bargaining power of buyers – The bargaining power is high as there are few retailers to sell into. Thanks to market consolidation in Canada, there is Canadian Tire (Sport Chek), Source for Sports, and smaller independent buyer groups. At the end of the day, Canadian Tire is going to pay whatever it wants, and can make or break the success of this product. (High)

4)      Bargaining power of suppliers – I assume that the groups making this kind of alloy are limited. The key input is always in demand. Thus the supplies have a lot of power here.

5)      Intensity of Rivalry – This is very high. Each stick company has a large stable of endorsers, big advertising budgets, and there are only a few major brands: Bauer, Easton, Warrior, and RBK. (High)

So before you invest in this company, understand that this is going to be an uphill battle for Colt Hockey. Their advantages are minimal, and this is a very tough industry to get into. That is why there are so few stick companies. Additionally, there are only so many hockey players that need a $300+ hockey stick.

However, support this company because quite honestly, this is a venture that needs to happen. Whether these guys get this off the ground and get bought out by Easton 3 days after they sell their first stick, that’s great. Because hockey is becoming unwatchable with the amount of sticks exploding. The sport’s second most important piece of equipment (helmet being number 1), needs to be better. I applaud Colt Hockey for finding what looks to be a viable solution.

We at Sports Business Canada have donated $35 to this cause, and when we receive the t-shirt we will be holding some type of contest to give the shirt away to a worthy reader so stay tuned.

Jeffrey Lush

Jeff Lush is a Raptors fan and digital nerd who works as an advertising consultant. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jlush709.