Skillzboard was born in the attic of our home, where we taught new members of the Outdoor Adventure Club (at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville) how to clean anchors. Working with new students every year, we noticed a pattern of excited climbers who would get an anchor-cleaning lesson on the ground, only to panic once it eventually came time to clean anchors on real rock. The last thing anyone wants when you’re high and dry is “calmly shouted” instructions that you aren’t sure you’re hearing clearly or understanding correctly.
We realized that most climbers learn through practice and repetition, building muscle memory for activities involving a sequence of steps. Learning a set of skills in a class or by watching a video rarely translates into the ability to implement it in real life unless the skills can be practiced and honed. We developed the first version of the Skillzboard for a prototyping competition at UW - Platteville where it won second place prize.
We then focused our attention on developing versatile mounting systems that allow users to quickly and easily set up the Skillzboard at home or at the crag, off the rock, a tree, or the side of a car or van. No drilling necessary! With grant funding and several rounds of development, testing and redesign, the Skillzboard went on to win awards at the Wisconsin Science and Technology Symposium’s Innovation Showcase in 2019.
With the 2020 COVID-19 shelter-at-home measures in place, we decided we should take the final steps to bring Skillzboard to the climbing community. We formed a company, established a relationship with a local manufacturing partner in Wisconsin and we’re finally producing Skillzboards...over a year after the first prototype was made.