Business news : Faction Skis launches into winter with additional $3 Million Investment, Expands Leadership Team

Fast-growing independent ski equipment and apparel brand The Faction Collective accelerates growth ambitions with successful fundraising

Breckenridge, CO (October 23, 2012) -- The Faction Collective today announces investment of more than $3M by Octopus Investments (“Octopus”) and a group of proven angel investors. Faction has seen its sales double since the last ski season, and won several industry awards for its innovative and iconic skis, that have attracted the enthusiastic approval of freestyle and freeride skiers in Europe, North America and Asia. Faction will use the additional capital and revenues to expand its range of skis and other products, invest further in technology development, and increase awareness.

Faction will also be adding to its management team, with co-founder Alex Hoye becoming full-time CEO to lead its growth. He joins his co-founder Tony McWilliam who continues to lead the company's design studio in Verbier and focus on product and brand innovation. The company expects to add other employees in both its Swiss Headquarters and internationally.

Angels investing include Christopher Spray, formerly of Atlas Venture, Anthemis founder Sean Park, the GoBeyond angel group, all of whom will be joining the board, as well as Dave Morin of Path, Facebook and Apple.  The company expects to take additional investment before year-end.

Earlier in 2012 Faction won the endorsement of multiple X-game champion Candide Thovex.  Thovex showcases Faction’s skis in the major feature film Few Words, released in cinemas in October. Faction and Candide also collaborated on the development of Faction's new Superlight series of skis.  About 800 grams lighter than traditional models, with cores built from recycled PET and flax with patented pressure treatment, they push the boundaries of ski technology.

Commenting on the investment, co-founder McWilliam said, “ A 'faction' is a group formed to challenge the establishment. From the outset, the Faction Collective emerged out of the need to create skis freestyle and freeride skiing, with design and clothing that reflects our ethos. We are passionate about our sport and about making the very best products possible.  This investment ensures that we will deliver more and better to an Apple-inspired generation of skier brought up with the values we have: There is no substitute for a fanatic focus on design, quality and individual personality.”

Incoming CEO Hoye, adds: “Our team and investors share our vision that Faction is not only part of the double-digit shift in the $7 billion market toward freeskiing at the expense of snowboards and traditional skis, we also deliver on the lean ethos disrupting traditional business – rapid product development, global collaboration with top talent, new digital ways to engage with our fans and channel partners, a commitment to company responsibility, and the view that it is not worth doing if it is not simply better.  This focus has consistently led us to pioneer new materials and styles, bucking a trend to race-to-the-bottom, cost-only focus in the industry.”

“Tony and I formed Faction after realising that none of the major ski companies were in tune with the needs and interests of our generation of freeride and freestyle skiers. Data in Europe is not compiled, but using North American data as a reference, freeskiing participation is up 46% in the past two years to 20% of all skiers in the same period snowboarding unit sales have declined an average of 9% per year over the past three according to the SnowSports Industries Association.”

“From a modest beginning, Faction has emerged as one of the fastest-growing independent brands in the market.  Our expectation over the next few years to become a major force in the industry through dedicated focus on building great skis and clothing specifically with this group of skiers in mind.”

Simon Andrews from Octopus who will be joining the board added: “Faction has a strong leadership team which has made good progress to date in developing the business under the guidance of experienced entrepreneur and businessman Alex Hoye, combined with the design and product vision of Tony McWilliam. There now exists an exciting opportunity to build on its success and scale the business. We look forward to working with the team to realise the potential for Faction to become a major business in the winter sports equipment market.”

Company information:
The Faction Collective is distinguished in the snowsports industry for its ethos of bringing top quality, innovative, socially responsible products to the market.  Faction distributes in 20 countries and has operations in Verbier, Switzerland, Denver and London.
Faction was forged in 2006 by a unique team of passionate skiers, each bringing world-beating skills in design, branding, engineering, marketing, logistics and sales.  Most importantly, each form a unit with their need to deliver products freeskiers need, never compromising on quality.
This year sees the launch of Faction’s new collaboration series with Candide Thovex, arguably one of the worlds best skiers, utilizing new core technology consisting of recycled PET and flax fibres creating skis that are considerably lighter, environmentally conscious and with improved performance.
Key images are available in high resolution on: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/c6pue2rkih8mx1u/sckHSVSBqB

Some 2013 Awards
Powder Magazine Fantasy Draft       Best Powder ski (Royale), Best All Mountain (3zero), Free Agents (Prodigy)
Skiing Magazine Official selection (3zero, Agent 100)
Freeskier Editors Pick (3zero, Area)
Outside / Backcountry Gear Guide Select (3zero, Agent 100)
Skieur France Gold Award (Candide 3.0)

About The Co-Founders:
Alex Hoye was CEO of digital marketing firm Latitude Digital until November 2012, co-founded 18-country GoIndustry plc which was listed on AIM in 2006, built supply-chain management and market entry experience at McKinsey & Co and Disney.  Hoye is an active skier, kite surfer, is known for his angel investing track record in Europe and received his MBA and bachelor degrees from Harvard and Stanford.  Alex co-founded Faction with Tony, but now joins full time where he will focus on the rapidly-expanding global sales, distribution and finance operations.
Tony McWilliam has co-founded three other entrepreneurial enterprises in the snowsports business aside from being an established ski competition judge and Managing Director Faction since inception in 2006.  In a prior life, he forged brand and design expertise delivering for brands like Coke, Ford, Ethiad and Fosters and earned his degree in Industrial Design from RMIT in Melbourne.  Tony is responsible for the brand, marketing and product development at Faction and is the heart of the innovation and design. Tony is pleased to focus more deeply on the critical product development with Alex joining the team.
About the ventures team at Octopus Investments
The ventures team at Octopus are straight talking human investors that back talented people rather than specific sectors focuses. We focus on identifying fast growth businesses which can scale explosively to create, transform or dominate an industry.  We can invest from £250,000 to £5 million and prefer to partner teams based in the UK.
The work of our ventures team is supported by access to the Octopus Venture Partners, a network of approximately 100 outstanding business leaders, entrepreneurs and private investors providing an invaluable wealth of expertise and resource for our portfolio companies, as well as investing on a deal-by-deal basis alongside Octopus venture funds. This blend of knowledge and skill has allowed us to help many great companies across several sectors thrive in recent years including LoveFiLMZooplaGraze.comSwiftKey; and, Secret Escapes.

About Octopus Investments
Octopus Investments, founded in 2000, is a leading investment specialist. We offer innovative core and satellite investment solutions to UK investors, and a wide range of funding options for exceptional companies.
Our core investments include a discretionary management service and a range of multi-manager multi-asset OEICs. These are complemented by our range of satellite solutions, including venture capital trusts, enterprise investment schemes and inheritance tax products. Each product has been designed to solve specific problems faced by financial advisers and their clients.
Our funding solutions cover the entire capital structure, from equity through mezzanine to senior debt, and we seek out outstanding management teams in unlisted companies with whom we can partner.
Octopus has built its business around three core pillars: customer led innovation, excellence in customer service and the quality of our people. We employ more than 200 people and currently have more than £2.5 billion in assets under management.
Octopus has won a number of awards for its products and customer service. We have twice been voted one of the best 100 SMEs to work for by the Sunday Times, and we are one of only two fund management companies to be AAA rated by financial advisers for customer service.

(Source SIA)

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