Montreal dad creates 'igloo' frame for safe snow play
Like many Canadian kids, Eric Villiard loved making snow forts. But at the age of 10, while playing in one at home, his fort collapsed, burying him in heavy snow. Fortunately for Villiard, his father was able to quickly pull him out.
Now the father of two young sons, the former member of Canada’s alpine ski team didn’t want to see his kids get crushed too. Villiard struck upon a novel idea: creating a sturdy plastic frame that can be packed with the white stuff so kids can have safe snow fort fun.
“As parents, we’re always worried that our kids are playing in the snow and it’s dangerous,” Villiard said in an interview with CTV News Channel Saturday. “I just didn’t want to prevent my kids (from) playing in the snow and (building) forts.”
With the help of an industrial design instructor from the Université du Québec à Montréal, Villiard spent two years perfecting his design from his Montreal garage. Now the CEO of Play Snow, Villiard is about to start selling his creations: an easy-to-assemble polyurethane igloo frame that can withstand the weight of more than 450 kilograms of snow.
To fund the development of a prototype, Villiard launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in October. By the time the campaign ended on Nov. 30, Villiard had far exceeded his $15,000 goal, raising a whopping a $287,257 and selling some 1,500 units in the process.
“It’s giving us the financial support to make it through our first year,” Villiard said. “For us it’s a big help.”
Although the units sold via Kickstarter cost about $200, Villiard expects the final products to retail for $250 to $279. The structures, Villiard adds, will be manufactured in Quebec. The igloos measure 150 centimetres in diameter and stand about 120 centimetres tall.
Villiard expects the forts to be commercially available in February. Tunnels and castles are next on the horizon, he says.
“It’s about doing something for the parents and the kids,” he said. “I’m really proud of this.”
With files from CTV News Channel