Cyrus Schenck wins LaunchVT with Renoun Ski Company

Cyrus Schenck holds a pair of Renoun skis and his $30,000 check after winning LaunchVT in Burlington last week.
Cyrus Schenck holds a pair of Renoun skis and his $30,000 check after winning LaunchVT in Burlington last week.

by Sadie Williams

Renoun Ski Company, founded by Shelburne’s Cyrus Schenck, took home $30,000 in cash and $45,000 in-kind services from this year’s LaunchVT competition held on Thursday, May 7 at Main Street Landing in Burlington.

Schenck has developed a new kind of ski that utilizes non-Newtonian fluid for a responsive on-snow experience. When interviewed for an article in the April 16 issue of the Shelburne News, Schenck compared his non-Newtonian fluid to Oobleck (a mixture of cornstarch and water), describing how the liquid remains fluid when a low amount of force is applied but becomes more rigid when more extreme amounts of force are exerted upon it. By putting that material into a ski, he was able to create a surface that would become more rigid in rougher conditions, in effect eliminating the tiny vibrations a skier feels when shooting down a steep, icy hill at high speeds.

While the $30,000 in cash that comes with first place will certainly give Schenck a leg up as he goes into production, he is equally, if not more-so, excited about the $45,000 in-kind services. Those include legal services, risk management and insurance consultation, accounting and tax services, PR and marketing, a media budget, and more.

“I probably spend the most on legal services,” Schenck said, while expressing high praise for the companies that pitch in to make this element of LaunchVT possible. “It’s testament to how awesome this place is. Everyone is so willing to throw these in-kind services to us. Burlington is just chock full of people who want to pitch in and help.”

Runner-up Chris Patton presented Punchpass, a company already successful in its own right that sells a user friendly program to companies that use punch cards such as yoga studios, Zumba, Pilates, and the like. It helps them keep track their customers, class attendance, instructors, and more.

Other contestants included Alice & the Magician with edible fragrances which can transform potables into works of sensory art; LaunchPad, an app that allows teachers to create project based curriculum; MEDSINC, a “medical-intelligence software product” that “will address the shortage of physicians and nurses in [low and middle income countries] by expanding the capacity of unskilled frontline community healthcare workers;” and Navali, a line of washed canvas bags and accessories catered to men.

So what’s next for Schenck? The young entrepreneur is looking at a whirlwind summer. “Prototypes are arriving in the mail today,” he said on Monday, May 11. Then it’s two weeks of hashing out the brand with Mike Nick, a seasoned ski-industry professional, followed by trips to Denver for design and graphics, Aspen for a meeting with The New York Times, and Salt Lake City, Utah and Portland, Ore. for discussions with retailers and of course, testing the product out on the slopes of Mount Hood.

Production for next year’s skis will begin in mid-June. Stay tuned for more from Schenck: you can be sure that this energetic innovator won’t sit still for long, and with the funds and services from LaunchVT, Renoun is sure to accelerate as far and as fast as Schenck’s imagination can take it.

To learn more about Renoun, visit