Archive for Outdoors

Bikes and Bars

In 1990 a strong, young man set out on a journey. His appetite for adventure had him continually searching for the next great feat to accomplish. On this particular day, the goal was a one-day, 175-mile bicycle ride with his buddy. Halfway through the ride he pulled out yet another unappetizing, sticky, hard-to-stomach energy bar, his fifth of the day. He took one look at the grungy protein and stashed it back into his pocket. Cruising down a mountain at 30 mph he yelled over to his friend, “I can make a bar better than this!” He was right.

Gary Erickson went on to create one of the most esteemed energy bars on the market, CLIF Bar. Erickson spent two months in the kitchen with his mom, honing the recipe for his new bars. He used wholesome, energy-sustaining ingredients. In 1992 CLIF Bar was officially launched, named after Gary’s father, Clifford, the man who taught him to love adventure and to follow his dreams.

BusinessCardsOver the next eight years the company grew tremendously. CLIF Bar became one of the top bars on the market. Suddenly, however, most of their competitors began to be bought up by huge, multinational food companies. This put a lot of pressure on Erickson to sell CLIF Bar. He was offered $120 million for the company, and was faced with a tough decision.

Ultimately, he made the bold move to continue with CLIF Bar. Now, fifteen years later, this proves to be a wise decision as CLIF Bar has continued to grow and is still one of the most popular bars around. Erickson has established a unique business model that pushes the boundaries of conventional wisdom.cliffbar-2 He believes in the need for his employees to live holistic lives. CLIF Bar offers many benefits for their employees, including: an onsite fitness center, personal trainers, flexible workweek, paid volunteer service, onsite childcare and concierge services such as haircuts and organic produce delivery.

Adventure, risk taking, and dedication have proven to be guiding forces for Erickson. His story shows the potential for a small idea to take root and have tremendous impact on an entire market.

Reeling In Success: Jack Danos

I’m from West Virginia, which means I know a thing or two about fishing. My father and I have gone fishing every year since I was a little girl…and most of the time we never catch anything. Maybe our problem was that there were never any fish around us to be caught! Jack Danos, a millennial entrepreneur of just 17 years of age, and his father, Jeff Danos, came up with a fish trick that targets people like my father and I…unlucky fishermen. Jack describes the Tactibite Fish Call as a device that is thrown in the water and lures fish in with interesting sounds. Other animal callers work with ducks and turkeys…so why not fish?!

I originally discovered Jack after watching a Shark Tank episode. He impressed me with his smarts yet also creativity to bring this fish calling idea into a device. Are there countless fish attraction products on the market? Yes…believe me. Dad and I are the suckers that check out these products. But this one stands out because of its simplicity. All you have to do is throw it in the water and let the fish come to your hook. The noises range depending on what fish you want to attract as well.

Jack’s idea is impressive because he used his knowledge about what was already on the market, and his knowledge of fish. Him and his father has tackled a large problem, that being fishermen want to catch fish. Jack values his company at around 1.5 million dollars and is expected to continue to grow in success within the next years. Maybe dad and I will have to give the Fish Call a try. Specialty of fishing and finding a niche have allowed Jack to earn a spot as a millennial entrepreneur. This can be used as a motivation to other entrepreneurs to focus on a problem you’re passionate about and reel in a successful idea.makers-3d-printed-fish-call-device-wow-judges-abcs-shark-tank-raise-150k-5

Better Than a Lemonade Stand

When I was about 15 years old, the town of Falmouth in Cape Cod decided to replace an old train track with a biking trail that extended several miles to Woods Hole, a popular tourist hot spot. That summer I ventured from my family’s summer home to see what the new bike trail had to offer in places I had never seen due to overgrown weeds – and that was how I met Patrick. Patrick was only 14, yet already had a summer business that was raking in hundreds annually to go toward his future college tuition.

Patrick’s parents had made it clear at a young age that if he wanted to go to college, he was going to have to start saving early because they couldn’t afford the debt. His home was on an average Falmouth road – quiet and lazy, yet also bustling in the summer with people biking or walking to the beach. At the age of 12, he borrowed $1,000 to purchase a high quality shaved ice making machine and flavoring, and set up a table at the side of the road to sell shaved ice to the passerbys. It didn’t take long for the revenue to start flowing like water, and he gained regular customers who would specifically travel down his road to purchase his shaved ice. When Falmouth ripped out the railroad in favor of the trail, his business exploded. By the time I met him, his table had become a semi-permanent booth that boasted the shaved ice machine, dozens of flavors, fresh squeezed lemonade, other refreshments like Gatorade and Sprite, and even had a shady section off to the side with benches and tables. The bike trail brought a boom of tourists and natives from other towns, and he had already saved several thousand dollars when I first met him.

One thing I truly admired was his commitment to his original goal of saving the money for his future tuition. He was already a levelheaded businessman at the young age of 14, and the vast majority of his revenue went straight into his savings instead of his pockets. It was brilliant for him to realize at age 12 that virtually no one sold shaved ice in our area and in the surrounding towns, and he was able to capitalize on that advantage very quickly before others caught on and did the same. While I haven’t seen Patrick in a few years, I am quite confident that his business is still there, improving, and thriving during the hot Cape Cod summers.

Man Can

The possibility of making money off little ideas seems so unlikely, however we hear the story time and time again about how here are children out there making thousands or millions a year just off of a little idea. Maybe it is because they aren’t as scared to fail, because they don’t need the money to provide for their families. Something about these stories is surprising, and also uplifting.

Fourteen year old Hart Main had an idea when he was teasing his sister about her fundraiser and selling “girly scented candles.” He wanted to make manly scented candles. With an initial investment of 300 dollars his dream started to become a reality. Soon he has scents such as Campfire, Grandpa’s Pipe, and Sawdust. These are now in at least 60 stores and have sold over 9000 units. He made this come true with just 300 dollars.

Kids who had lemonade stands when they were young had a mission, to make money. Adults who have a job, for the most part, have a mission, to make money. Sometimes all you need is to handle is the risk. Just like Hart, he just did it.

Reinventing the Wheel – Literally!

Bicycles are great solutions to get you where you need to go, with the benefits of being environmentally friendly and faster than walking.  However, there’s one major drawback – pedaling a bicycle can be hard work, especially for long distances or routes with lots of hills (basically anywhere in western Pennsylvania!).  So that’s where the Copenhagen Wheel comes in.

The Copenhagen Wheel was developed by a team of robotics engineers and designers from MIT specifically for Copenhagen, Denmark – a city known for its bicycle culture.  This innovative team wanted to take some of the work out of bicycling by turning a regular bike into a smart electric hybrid.  Many of the team members have had previous experience with popular startup tech companies.  Add this experience to a visionary marketing team and some venture capital investors, and you get the startup Superpedestrian.

The Copenhagen Wheel

The Copenhagen Wheel works by replacing the back wheel of your bike with the Copenhagen Wheel, which is then connected to an app on your smartphone.  A small servo motor and control system is hidden in the wheel’s sleek red casing.  This system captures your energy as you brake or go down the hill and then lets you use this energy pedal with 3-10 times the normal power of a bike!  This allows you to go up hills easier and go further, faster.  Even cooler is the fact that the Copenhagen Wheel learns how you pedal and can keep track of your fitness, while riding just like a normal bike.  If you don’t believe me, check out this video to learn more about the Copenhagen Wheel.

Clearly the old wheel has met its match!  Superpedestrian is busy getting the Copenhagen Wheel ready for market and it should be widely available within the next year.

Pennsylvania Outdoors Unlimited

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Back in high school, my cousin Brandon, and my friends Brady and Grant Forney and I would spend countless weekends outdoors.  We were always thinking about fishing and gunning trips, chasing a variety of different species of game and fish, as well as perusing a variety of outdoor sport activities.  Our fathers and grandfathers owned many diverse and beautiful properties across Pennsylvania which facilitated our desire for exploration and sport.

Brady’s younger brother Grant was a little young to come along on all our our adventures as a participator, but in order to stay in on the fun he asked if he would be allowed to take his parents Sony HandyCam and film our expeditions.  Immediately, he started a YouTube channel and posted the film. Grant was really the innovator for this idea.  Without him, we probably would have never put in the effort to film and capture our experiences.  The rest of us jumped on board with his idea and we came up with the name Pennsylvania Outdoors Unlimited, a state specific outdoors channel.   Since then, we have become oudtoorsmen with a focus on photography and videography.  Three years and 100 videos later, the page boasts over 600,000 views and 2,100 subscribers.

With these numbers, the dividends from YouTube have been starting to slowly accrue.  More recently, we have teamed with Pennsylvania Whitetail Pursuit to create a marketable outdoors DVD for the 2014 season, and this past May, our organization won a Gopro Hero 3 camera in a video entry contest from Hunteos.com.  Even though we are all college age now, we are still excited to spend time outdoors in any facet we can find or experience.  This adventure filming idea is really just fun for us, and if it never pays off, we would have no regrets.  However, as time goes on, we see more and more potential to find some sort of niche market for our brand and put together a sustainable business model.

In the meantime, check it out!

Instagram: paoutdoorsunlimited on Instagram

Facebook: Pennsylvania Outdoors Unlimited

Youtube: Pennsylvania Outdoors Unlimited – YouTube

– Herschel Miller

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