Tim Root welcomed a group of about 40 people to the Launch Ashland event at The Brickroom. After some brief comments about past and upcoming events and venues, he introduced the evening’s speaker, who happened to be the son of a high school friend of his: Rob Little, owner of Cairn.
Rob took a seat in front of the crowd and related the story of how he formed his company and why he elected to locate Cairn in Southern Oregon.
The Cairn business model is an online subscription concept that features monthly boxes of various products related to outdoor activities: camping, backpacking, mountain biking, skiing, hiking. Product categories include gear, apparel, food & energy, skin care and emergency & medical.
There are two types of subscriptions: The Original Box (monthly subscription: $25) and the Obsidian Box (quarterly subscription: $199). Rob brought sample boxes to give to those folks who asked questions after his talk.
The company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is: Instead of hiring participants in a focus group, they opted to operate an in-house data collection process. Cairn shares market research data with suppliers.
When asked about his history, Rob related that, after he got his MBA, he and his wife looked for a place to settle. They made up a checklist and then searched for the perfect community; close to skiing and tech businesses. During that time, he happened to visit Southern Oregon and they found their dream location: Bend.
Then, to launch his business, he produced several boxes of goodies and took them to a trade show where he traveled the floor and announced that he had 200 orders for his boxes when, in fact, he had not yet received any orders.
He followed up by contacting bloggers and others who had an audience to tell them about his products, and spread the a rumor that he had lots of sales when he actually had none. The company steadily grew from that point; through hard work—and gutsy marketing.
The audience had lots of questions for Rob and he answered each one, providing more history about his company while enticing participants to check out the goodie boxes he handed out to questioners. A natural marketeer!
With so many people from all different trades attending the event, lots of contacts were made; entrepreneurs connecting with individuals who might have access to business counseling and/or financing, folks with business properties seeking tenants, techies seeking startup owners needing technical assistance with a website or app, and business owners scouting internship talent.
Join us for the next Launch Ashland Pub Talk on Tuesday, December 13, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Schneider Museum in the SOU Art Complex.
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