A safe way to build snow forts

Play Snow allows kids to create igloo-shaped structures outdoors

Like many children during the winter season, Eric Villiard created a snow fort in the front yard of his house when he was 10 years old. Soon after finishing his igloo, the sticky and heavy snow collapsed on him, trapping him with no room to move and little air to breathe. Fortunately, Villiard’s father, who’d been watching from inside the house, ran outside without boots and pulled his son out as he was gasping for air.

Now 46-years-old, Villiard (pictured right)used that traumatic childhood experience as an inspiration for a new business venture in the hopes of making snow forts safer for kids. The catalyst was watching his two kids (now 8 and 4) create tunnels in snow banks, which brought back the memory of that frightening event. 

“It’s unfortunate that we tell our kids not to play in the snow and build forts because it could be dangerous,” he said. “So I wanted to make a structure that could support the weight of the snow.”

The structure, called Play Snow, has a strong outdoor frame in the shape of an igloo. It comes in 17 pieces that interlock to create a plastic shell, which is five feet in diameter and four feet high capable of withstanding more than 1,000 pounds.

The former World Cup alpine skier is new to entrepreneurship but has more than 20 years of experience in sales and a degree in finance and management from the Université du Québec à Montreal. In just two months, the project received more than $250,000 in pledges from close to 1,000 people on the start-up website Kickstarter.

Villiard says he is hoping to sell the igloo worldwide and plans to add a second structure in the future. “We want to create a castle that can connect to the igloo […and] sell these structures in any country that has snow,” he says. 

The structure costs $299 and can be purchased online at playsnow.ca

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