Rock Climbing Gym
Businesses are either asset heavy or operations heavy. Rock climbing is one of the best asset heavy businesses to venture into.
- As the economy booms and per capita income goes up, leisure activities grow. It starts with restaurants, travel, branded goods, health/self care and moves towards activities where a person can think/learn/grow. Every single city where the economy has been booming, you will notice a lot of venues for activities.
- Adults in such economies get into non-mainstream sports. As witnessed by the boom of Ultimate Frisbee in Singapore/India/China/Korea in the 2000s.
- People in such economies also tend to get more independent. They don't like to commit. The next gen is commitment phobic, from marriage/relationship to simple things like home lease agreements or owning a car etc.
- Tennis/Squash type of sports activities depends on a partner. You need to be free. Your partner needs to be free. The venue needs to be free. It takes planning. And worst case when something last minute comes up and your partner bails, your evening is wasted.
- People want to do activities where they aren't tied to other people. They can do it when they want without having guilt play a role. This is one of the reasons why Running became a huge hit.
- Though people are commitment phobic, it doesn't mean they don't like social interactions. Which is why you have running clubs etc. People prefer activities where they can do those activities and also have time to interact with people.
- People in such economies also want to do things which has a learning curve. There are sports like Table Tennis which is mostly training your animal instincts aka reflexes. It doesn't have a huge learning curve, except training your reflexes to spot the ball, and whack it back into that table. Sports like running, which is very independent and meets the above criteria, also don't have much of thinking involved in them. There are a few sports where you can learn and get better with experience.
- People in these economies also define themselves by what they do and believe in, rather than their jobs. Adventure, sports, hobbies play a big role in their identity.
- These well to do people, also want to pick things which can be done where ever they are. For instance if you pick playing the cello, you most likely can't do it when you are on a business trip. Or if you pick up some seasonal sports, you most likely can't do it where ever you travel or need to invest quite a bit of time to make a trip to some place which allows you to do that activity. For instance skiing or snowboarding or surfing. They also don't want to carry huge amounts of gears.
- Every city that has grown economically, has seen a boom in rock climbing gyms. In 2015 there were only 3 rock climbing gyms in Singapore (Onsight, Climb Asia and Yishun). Now there are over 30 climbing gyms in Singapore. In 2016 (when I was a student in Korea University) there were about 12 climbing gyms in Seoul. 3 in the entire south of Han river. Now there are over 80 climbing gyms in Seoul. 10 in just Gangnam area.
- It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. And it was included in the olympics last year.
Why Developed cities drift to Rock Climbing¶
- It is a thinking sport. Every new problem is a different challenge. And everyone has different strengths. I have very poor flexibility. My friend has very good flexibility. The way she solves the problem, I can't copy it. It is the same problem. But I have to come up with a different way of solving it, using my own strength. Some are good at flexibility, some have strong arms, some are good at crimps, some good at pinches, some have good friction in their palms and can do slopers, some have good reach etc.
- There is a learning curve. As you keep climbing there are tougher and tougher problems that you can graduate to. It is not like the rubiks cube where after a point it is just nothing to learn, but train your fingers to flip the sides faster. Or it is not like running, after a point you just need to mindlessly train.
- Bouldering is great for socializing. You will get pumped by the time you finish 2-3 problems. You need to take a break. And then do it. Unlike football, ultimate, where you are consistently running around the field ... with hardly any break to talk to anyone. Here you get ample time to socialize, interact, reflect, rest and get back
- You can see the difference. If you fail at a problem. Try it 7 more times. Lose all your energy. Come back next week and do the same problem. In sports like Tennis, Football etc. you make a mistake in some situation, that situation is not going to happen again. To simulate that situation is going to be tough. But here you can keep doing a problem till you get it right.
- Freedom: It doesn't depend on partner's commitment. And you can do it where ever you go in the world. You don't have to travel far. You can do it after work or before work or during lunch.
- Cool: It is a good ice breaker. It is a good skill to have that you can introduce people to. I have taken many of my friends to climbing. Shown them how to go about it. It is a fun evening activity. It has low initial requirement to start. Anyone can climb. But not anyone can do a tennis serve the first day. In Table Tennis, Tennis etc. your partner and your skills need to match. If you play Federer, every 2 shots the ball will land outside court and you or he will have to serve. There is no scope of a long rally.
- Consistent across countries. Zero knowhow required. Every climbing gym is standard. You have colored rocks or colored tapes. 2 tapes means starting holds. The top 2 tape is the finishing. You can only use the holds with the same color/tape color. No language barrier.
Climbing as a business¶
- Sources of income:
- Daily passes/multi use pass/monthly pass/half yearly pass/yearly pass
- Off peak classes - Pilates, Yoga etc.
- Training - Kids classes, Adult classes etc.
- Gear sales
- Merchandise sales
- Shakes/Drinks/Protein Bars etc sales
- Rental - Shoes/Lockers
- Unlike Tennis/Table Tennis/Football/Basketball/Squash - the asset is shared resource. Which means no need for commitment from users. No need for anyone to book the arena/court ahead of time and deal with cancellation.