Where does the collision of music, sports, technology, fashion, and creative culture occur? The action actually happens high atop a mountain in Park City, Utah — where, not coincidentally, a company known for creating innovative headphones that look as good as they work is also located.
The president and CEO of Skullcandy Inc., Hoby Darling, recently described how this “intersection” is in actuality home to a global brand. He spoke to SAP as part of “Leaders Run Live” series, where senior leaders from some of the world’s top companies explained how businesses are running simple.
Other leaders featured in the thought-provoking discussions include Kevin Plank of Under Armour, Adam Silver from the NBA and Gary Bettman of the NHL.
Hoby offered first-hand insight into how Skullcandy has continued to “bring the noise” as it creates world-class premium audio experiences by pushing boundaries far and wide. He also offered answers to the questions that people ask the most often about Skullcandy. Who thought of the idea of being able to switch back and forth between music and a phone call and how did it happen?
Darling recounted how notorious non-conformer and Skullcandy founder, Rick Alden, was snowboarding on the legendary mountain in Park City, Utah when the “Eureka” moment occurred. While on a chairlift his phone rang at the same time that he was listening to music. Of course, at that moment in time, the ability to switch back and forth between music and a cellphone call didn’t yet exist.
So as Alden descended the mountain that day, he asked himself how he could make an inevitable circumstance more efficient as well as fun. He then serendipitously created what is called the Link System, which allows you to switch between a phone call and music.
Darling said that thanks to their unique founding, Skullcandy has always been about saying, “Hey let’s have more fun and do things.” He also believes that embracing extreme fusion has effectively provided the energy that drives their mission around, “inspiring life at full volume.”
A great example of putting fun in motion and being authentic to youth culture is the company’s support for the annual first day of summer rite known as Go Skateboarding Day. Perhaps one important purpose of setting aside June 21st is for skateboarders across a multiplicity of languages and cultures to demonstrate that skateboarding remains an expression of personal freedom. It’s therefore not a surprise that some of the greatest names in skateboarding are Skullcandy ambassadors.
Like skateboarders, Skullcandy refuses to be encased in a figurative cubicle, and instead chooses to remain as what Darling describes as the “gritty underdog.” However, doing so while simultaneously competing with the world’s biggest brands, does indeed present quite a paradox.
Not surprisingly, Darling stated that one of Skullcandy’s biggest challenges was the complexity that resulted from becoming a global company that was also determined to remain authentic. Moreover, Skullcandy’s growth was so rapid that they required critical new technology in order to continue to run today’s IT half-pipe.
From a technology standpoint, Hoby believes that combatting the ensuing complexity required simplifying the process of how the company was taking data from different regions and different retailers. Subsequently, they also needed to understand their consumers from different areas of the world who may have different tastes and/or buying patterns. Then, they must continue to create an amazing buying experience for each and every consumer.
Skullcandy was looking for a solution for taking a mountain of disparate data points from around the world and clarifying, defining, and simplifying those insights into a single report.
Hoby described how the company addressed the challenge.
“The solution that really helps us achieve this and bring together all of the analytics that are coming at us fast and furious from around the world is SAP Business ByDesign. Not only can we make bold moves, but to charge there at 100 miles per hour.”
Figuring out how to simplify within such a complex world has been one of Darling’s most daunting tasks as company CEO. Fortunately, he said that SAP helps the company, “simplify in a big way.”
Skullcandy has created a team that is passionate about innovating for the future and doing everything possible for creating a “wow” experience every time someone puts on one of their headphones. However, Darling also stressed his belief in the importance of always maintaining a work-life balance.
So whether it’s the weekly employee mountain bike ride or ongoing support for Go Skateboarding Day, not ever forgetting where they came from will always be the reflective surface that helps keep Skullcandy unique.