We, Jakob, Johannes and Matthias, three former Munich students and enthusiastic snowboarders, founded CLEW. We all agreed: We wanted to save ourselves the hassle of buckling and unbuckling after every lift ride without giving up the unsurpassed riding feeling of a buckle binding. Until then, there was no snowboard step-in binding on the market that met our expectations.
Thanks to the university module "Methods of Product Development" in the last semester of our mechanical engineering studies, we were able to develop our first idea for a new type of step-in snowboard binding using 3D printing processes and make it tangible. We wanted to keep the unsurpassed feel of a classic ratchet binding. That's how we came up with the idea to design our binding in two parts. The base should be fixed to the snowboard. The detachable highback should be able to be strapped to any soft boot and fixed to the board with a click system.
Confident in our new concept, we submitted our business plan to a Munich ideas competition for start-ups and won the first place. We invested all of our prize money back into further product development.
At the ISPO sports trade fair in January 2019, we presented the first fully functional, but not yet saleable prototype of the CLEW binding. At the same time, we began a months-long search for the right suppliers, manufacturers of individual parts, as well as machines and a suitable production facility. From the very beginning, we wanted to rely on quality work "Made in Germany" for our entire production.
Shortly thereafter, we presented our binding in the TV show "Die Höhle der Löwen", which was broadcast on October 19, 2019. During the course of the show, we had over 90,000 store visitors and, accordingly, numerous pre-orders for the coming winter. An early and groundbreaking step in CLEW's history.
Just one week after another successful appearance at ISPO in February 2020, the global pandemic became an unprecedented challenge for our entire industry. More and more ski resorts were forced to shut down, resulting in a drastic drop in sales for products like our snowboard bindings.
We chose to use the time during the shutdown as an opportunity and put all of our small team's focus on improving our binding. We started polling our community, talking to pro riders, developing additional test rigs. We scrutinized every single part, down to the smallest screw. With our first major update, the completely redesigned CLEW20 Edition, we had finally developed a successor model in record time, allowing us to take the big step into other international markets like Japan and South Korea the following season.
Because we had personally assembled each binding, we knew exactly where to start to increase our volume while maintaining our high quality standards. CLEW is now represented in over 100 stores and 40 countries.
With our constant growth comes a great responsibility. We set ourselves the highest possible goals and aim to be a pioneer and role model not only in the field of technology, but also in social and environmental matters.
One year after the pandemic, we are still characterized by what made us strong from the beginning. We will never stop questioning ourselves and our products, and we will always strive for improvement in all areas.
Our latest release, the CLEW® Freedom 1.0 (23/24), sets new standards. We want to take your snowboarding experience to the next level and continue to write our story!