Having just launched a business catering to the Colorado lifestyle, friends Eric Liebold, Joe Thomas and Conaire Hallisy are about to celebrate their company’s one-week anniversary.
“We are a true startup,” said Liebold, who also holds the position of COO for Chief Petroleum Co.
BivySak, an online subscription service based in Colorado Springs, creates and ships quarterly seasonal packages of outdoor-themed products. The service is $24.99 a month and the included merchandise retails for between $110 and $150 or more per box, according to Liebold.
“We’re marketing to the Colorado guy,” said Liebold, who grew up near Detroit but has lived in Colorado 11 years. “Or the Michigan guy who wishes he was a Colorado guy.”
BivySak, which also caters to the Colorado woman, is in the process of sending out winter packages to its first subscribers. That package includes a Salomon brand jacket and beenie, a GSI Outdoors Fairshare mug, a spork, Honey Stinger energy bars and offers from participating gear companies.
“Conaire just climbed Mount Rainier and said that mug was his favorite piece of equipment on his whole trip,” Liebold said of his business partner, a Colorado native working now as an attorney in Canada.
“We looked around our garage and thought about the stuff we love to use and put those things in a box,” said Thomas, an Army major who has served 20 years in the military. Thomas is also an experienced outdoorsman due to his Special Operations duties.
“We get to try the equipment first,” he said, “and we only send out products we personally recommend.”
The company, Liebold said, is less for the hardcore sportsman and more for the outdoor enthusiast who doesn’t necessarily know where to start, what products he should consider or have the time to research gear.
“It’s for people who want to try new things,” he said. “It’s like a present to yourself four times a year. I think it will inspire people to get out and try their new equipment.”
In time for the holidays
Liebold said the company is using social media to market BivySak, but they are planning to be published in at least one high-profile holiday gift-giving guide.
“It really is the gift that gives all year,” he said of a subscription.
The spring package, according to the BivySak website, would be sent around March and emphasize running and hiking.
“We talked about packing gear into a lightweight backpack for the spring package,” Liebold said.
“We’re marketing to the Colorado guy. Or the Michigan guy who wishes he was a Colorado guy.”
– Eric Liebold, BivySak
[/pullquote]A summer package would include gear for backcountry ventures and camping and would arrive around June, and the fall package would include gear for fishing and climbing and arrive in September.
A single BivySak can also be purchased without a subscription.
Prior to the company’s launch, Liebold said, priority was placed on creating relationships with suppliers.
“Some of them were into the idea, some of them weren’t,” Liebold said. “Some of them were really into the idea but said come back when we have more people on board.”
Thomas said developing those relationships and low overhead due to the online-only business model allows the company to compete with brick-and-mortar stores.
“I think we can compete because of the value we provide,” he said. “You can’t go into a store and get the same value. And there’s the time factor. People won’t take the time to go shopping for new gear and [with BivySak], we do the shopping for you and send it to your house.”
Expand the brand
Liebold said subscription services can be an efficient way for niche companies to expand their brand, adding that part of the inspiration for BivySak was due to his own wife’s subscription to a service called Birchbox, which provides subscribers with beauty, grooming and lifestyle products.
“If a company wants to get a new product in the hands of the consumer, subscription services are a great way to do that,” he said.
Liebold added that, while very new, he is happy to join an entrepreneur- and outdoor-minded business community like Colorado Springs.
“We’re excited,” he said. “Just in the time we’ve been working on launching this [company] … we’ve seen the great support and ideas from other companies locally who have gone out, taken the risk and done something similar.”
Established: Last week