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The Intrepid Entrepreneur

The Intrepid Entrepreneur is here to inspire those who are hell-bent on becoming a kick-ass entrepreneur, striving to level-up their business that they’ve started or are gearing up to launch their incredible ideas into successful small businesses! Join Kristin Carpenter-Ogden, founder of LivingUber and Verde Brand Communications, as she interviews inspirational, motivated, and kick-ass small business owners who have made their mark on the outdoor industry.
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Now displaying: June, 2016
Jun 24, 2016

How many people in the climbing industry can say they got started climbing at an early age? Either by attending a birthday party, or getting sent on a camping trip to shape up bad behavior, or some other way that teens find themselves in the woods or at a climbing facility, so many climbers will tell you they started young. So will my amazing guest today, Chris Warner.

 

Chris Warner is one of the most prolific entrepreneurs in the outdoor active lifestyle markets. He’s the owner of Earth Treks, a collection of climbing gyms in North America, a sponsored athlete, an entrepreneur, a leadership educator and a kickass motivational speaker.

 

On this week’s Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast, Chris is talking with me about how he, a “terrible kid” got into climbing at the age of 15, and how this led him to start his own business.

 

Chris was leading climbing trips when he got stuck in a snowstorm with a big client. When they ran out of books to read, Chris and his client started talking about the gym he dreamed of owning one day. By the end of the storm they had a preliminary business plan worked out on a piece of toilet paper. When they got back, Chris got to work.

 

Today, Earth Treks is preparing to open their 5th facility and has over 300 employees. Chris is talking with me about how a business so large can stay entrepreneurial, and his secret is surprising: It’s not about him! It’s about hiring employees who are passionate about the company’s core values, and about climbing.   

Chris is telling me more about getting started in climbing, keeping employees motivated, taking the skills he learned climbing to the professional industries, and changes in the climbing industry in this episode. He’s truly a one of a kind, doing some amazing work.

       

Bravery in business Quote

“We took the idea that we could learn something about ourselves through adventure and we could apply it to other aspects of our lives.” -Chris Warner

(Click to Tweet)

 

Cliff-Notes

  • Chris Warner, owner of Earth Treks, a collection of climbing gyms in NA. Chris is also sponsored athlete, an entrepreneur, and a leadership educator. He's a motivational speaker, here today to talk about being a multifaceted outdoor industry entrepreneur.
  • Grew up in NJ right outside of NYC. Got sent his sophomore year of high school on a five day trip to the woods and loved it. Started to work for the same program when he as 17, then Outward Bound, which led him to start his own company.
  • Helped start Outward Bound in Baltimore in 1986. A great experience working with kids, traveled to Asia in 1989, came back from expeditions fired up to start earth treks 1990.
  • Started as an outdoor climbing school, talking people to South America, Denali, etc. Got stuck in a snowstorm with a developer client and ran out of books to read.  Chris started telling him about the gym he wanted to own, and the client offered to help. Made projections for company on toilet paper w/sharpie. Got home an started Earth Treks.
  • Leadership Education: taking the leadership learned at high altitudes back to the audiences
  • Approached in the ‘90s by defense intelligence agencies to train spies to work outdoors with minimal equipment. After training realized they had taught leadership and team building skills to them also.
  • Approached by Wharton Business School to train in leadership. Took to Kilimanjaro. No one had experience or a lot of training so they only way to be successful was by changing their behaviors. Now does the same thing in a conference center.
  • Have to be great at being able to put the mission of the organization ahead of personal desires. In mountaineering a lot of times it's more important for people to get to the summit than for the team to get to the summit. And that generally results in death in mountaineering.
  • Climbing partnerships based in trust and caring and passion for the sport.
  • Just got land to build their 5th gym, in DC, will serve about a million customers this year, growing by 20% a year, 300 + employees
  • In a company that big, it can’t be about personality because he just doesn’t have time to know everyone. It’s about the company, and employees are passionate about core values
  • Climbing gyms on the rise b/c industry is moving indoors (from outdoor climbs).

 

“We're in the opportunity business, not the strategy business.” -Chris Warner

(Click to Tweet)

 

 

 

 

Resources

 

Earth Treks: EarthTreksClimbing.com

Speaking Website: http://ChrisBWarner.com/

Book: High Altitude Leadership: http://HighAltitudeLeadership.com/

Shownotes: IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Earth-Treks

Jun 17, 2016

For those of us who love getting outside and biking, hiking, skiing, surfing—anything active under the sun—something we often take for granted is development.

But as outdoor markets have taken off in the past few years and more people have started spending their weekends in the natural environment, the conversation around outdoor use and real estate development is becoming increasingly important.

This is why I’m stoked to be talking with Johannes Ariens today on the Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast.

Johannes’ Seattle based company, Radify Development, is a multifaceted business focused on outdoor development. Not only do they consult with development projects, but they are also a resource and a community building platform, focused on facilitating relationships and conversations in the outdoor market building industry.

As Johannes discusses in this episode, for developments aimed at the outdoor market (think: on snow lodges and surf camps to name a few), the environment is part of their product.  They’re selling an experience. It’s in their best interest that the product—nature—is protected and well cared for.

Johannes is focused on eliminating the barriers that keep people from getting into the outdoors, whether it’s equipment or logistics or information. He believes that the more time people spend outside, the more concerned they become with taking care of it.

This tension between use and protection of the outdoors is a challenge Johannes is well aware of, and something his business focuses on: how to get more people outside, while still protecting the environment they left the city to experience.

In our conversation, he’s telling me about how Radify is handling this challenge in a new project to bring Washington’s first cold-water surfing venue to Westport, set to open next year. We’re also discussing how Radify is also taking advantage of the JOBS act and has recently launched an Investor’s Club.

You won’t want to miss this conversation with one of the most determined and hard-working individuals in the industry.

 

Bravery in Business Quote

“As far as I see it, we are stewards of the environment as developers.” - Johannes Ariens

(click to tweet)

Resources:

RadifyDevelopment.com

 

Full Show Notes: IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Johannes-Ariens

Jun 10, 2016

There are a lot of things to think about when you start a business. Location, markets, consumers, branding, budgeting, the list can be overwhelming.  But what we’re talking about today on the Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast is passion! Consumers can tell when you have it, and they most certainly can tell when you don’t.

Today, I have the honor to interview Dave Thibodeau, co-owner of a path-burning, stalwartly independent craft brewing company, Ska Brewing, which is located in my hometown of Durango Colorado.

Dave and one of his co-founders, Bill Graham, got into homebrewing as young adults and laid out their business plan on the back of a bar napkin.

When they went to the bank with their idea, no one was interested in funding them. But hearing that no one believed their company could work only made Dave even more determined to be successful.

Twenty one years later, Ska Brewing Company is growing on its own terms, keeping creativity, independence and their vision crystal clear as they continue to knock down the success milestones.

What makes them so successful? Dave says it’s their authenticity. It’s something national companies can’t replicate, and consumers not only notice, but revere.

Back when Ska was founded, Dave says he had no specific consumer type in mind mostly because back then, there barely was a consumer type for craft beer! They just tried to appeal people who wanted to be a part of their story, and share in the experience. Little did he know that he was on to the success formula for any passion-driven entrepreneurial business. It just came naturally to them.

Let’s be honest. … Craft beer is an experience!

Ska does a masterful job offering the experience of creativity without rules or boundaries, and the experience of location - there’s a reason the company has dropped the clutch on its growth and reach right from its founding in Durango.

Ska’s all about being at the outdoor festival listening to music, doing epic outdoor endurance sports, sitting at the local brewery where your beer was made and surprising and delighting the customer with a true, creative craft experience.

 

Bravery in Business Quote

“Whenever you're talking about craft brewing or entrepreneurs, passion is the term that gets thrown around like crazy. But I really stand behind that.” - Dave Thibodeau

(click to tweet)

 

Cliff Notes:

  • Early support and assistance from other local brewers set a precedent for how they would treat other brewers and businesses, with a lot of camaraderie. There is so much to learn about the business and the product, that it takes a lot of collaboration and sharing of knowledge to be successful and get the information you need.
  • Craft brewers are just 10% of the entire beer market in the U.S.
  • Like some outdoor lifestyle markets, craft brewers are motivated to work together because they are all facing off against the same mega companies, Anheuser Busch,  MillerCoors, etc. Corporate competition gives craft brewers a common cause.
  • Dave’s passionate about the authenticity of Ska. It’s something that really shows, that consumers notice in craft breweries that national companies can’t replicate.
  • Craft beer is offering an experience to the customer. Extending the experience of being in their brewery, at a mountain festival in Colo., etc, to people who don’t live there or can’t come.
  • Had no “consumer type” in mind when they started the company. Twenty years ago, there barely was a consumer type for craft beer. Ska just wanted to appeal to the type of person who wants to be a part of their story, and share in the experience.
  • Slow growth as a smart strategy to build a strong foundation. Recently looking for way to expand but decided not to borrow a lot of money to open another facility/ building/restaurant.  Instead, they started “Mod Brewery,” a second brewery inside of their current facility completely dedicated to creating artful brews in small batches.
  • The Mod Brewery enables Ska’s artisan brewers have some fun and experiment with brewing techniques, 14 kegs at time.

 

“You can’t replicate it if it’s not genuine” - Dave Thibodeau

(click to tweet)

 

Resources:

SkaBrewing.com

 

Show Notes: IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Dave-Thibodeau

Jun 3, 2016

         On Monday, May 16, 2016 the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startup) Act went into effect in our country and the rules of investment and fundraising were altered forever.

         What happened on that day changed everything. Meritocracy stepped into the entrepreneurial funding equation and people -- ordinary people — not just accredited investors, got the lane to invest in early stage companies.

This opportunity extends far beyond donating money to a single product. Instead, it’s investing with a stake and a return if the project does well over time.

           I’m off the charts stoked to be talking about these exciting changes with Dylan Enright of Wefunder, an equity crowdfunding platform that launched on May 16th, just as this new form of crowdfunding was made legal.

           The power of Wefunder and the new opportunity for equity crowdfunding is that they’re keeping alive the American Dream, making it possible for anyone with a great idea to get that idea to market. Banks and big time investors who used to be the gatekeepers of innovation are no longer the only way to fund a new company.

           As Dylan says, “Even if you have the best idea in the world, it costs a little bit of capital to get it off the ground.”  And this is what Wefunder is doing: helping early stage companies get investments from average people taking a risk on your idea because they believe in your story. If your company does well, so do these people who helped fund it. People can invest as little as $100!  

           The first step toward harnessing the power of the crowdfunding platform is to understand it. My hope is that Wefunder’s Dylan Enright can help bring clarity to your decision around gaining traction through securing creative capital.

           If you know anyone with a dream project (or maybe you have one yourself) and are afraid to start, this conversation with Dylan is an incredible, and I hope, inspiring experience you won’t want to miss. Thanks for listening!

 

Bravery in Business Quote

“Before this there were a select few people sitting behind a desk who decided the fate of your business . . . we’re letting the community decide.”- Dylan Enright

(click to tweet)

The Cliff Notes

  • Wefunder started in Boston 2012, some friends wanted to invest in each other but were only able to donate (investing was illegal). To change this they got people to sign petition stating their intent to invest in early stage companies. Added up to millions of dollars people would invest if legal, and this got the attention of Senators and eventually people in Washington D.C.
  • Dylan got involved with the company after that. He was “Employee #1” at Wefunder
  • Dylan believes that giving everyone the ability to invest or raise money for their company is leveling the playing field. Before, only a select number of people got to decide what the next innovation would be.
  • Crowdfunding brings meritocracy and makes it easier for anyone everyone to make their own American dream by telling their story online. “Break the Monopoly of the Rich”
  • Lead-up to Wefunder launch (May 16th) was crazy. They wanted to come out strong w/more companies than their competitors. Really busy getting all these companies and pages ready.
  • Wefunder’s platform aims to make visitors to the site to feel like they are in the room hearing the pitch right from the founders.
  • Wefunder is not protecting people from risk. Early stage companies are very risky to invest in. Wefunder is creating an uprising against buying safe.
  • Outdoor active lifestyle markets were built on back of inventors who went big with their ideas and took big risks. Crowdfunding makes this possible for companies of all sizes.

“It’s not just a donation. You’re investing your money with founders and understanding that you’ll be earning a return if they do well.” - Dylan Enright

(click to tweet)

Resources

WeFunder.com

Dylan’s email: Dylan@WeFunder.com

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