Looking for new gear to pair with the upcoming winter, spring, summer, or fall season?
Take the stress and complication out of your gear shopping equation and get a Bivy Sak delivered right to your doorstep
To find out more behind how Bivy Sak got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews Bivy Sak co-founder, Conor Hallisy
More about the episode...
Josh sits down with Bivy Sak co-founder Conor Hallisy. It’s always a beautiful thing when the outdoors unites like-minded outdoor enthusiasts to come together, gear up, and head out but, when those individuals are also engulfed with a fiery passion for entrepreneurship the sky's the limit. For Eric Leibold, Joe Thomas, and Conaire Hallisy their passion quickly turned towards Bivy Sak, a handcrafted outdoor subscription box that provides thoughtfully curated themes based on each of the four seasons. Tune in as Conor walks us through how such a motley crew of individuals came together to kickstart a business, entered the entrepreneur school of hard knocks, and came up on top with one of the best outdoor subscription boxes on the market.
Have an opinion? We want to hear it! Join the conversation and leave a comment, check out show notes, and get all the links mentioned in this episode below
- Check out Bivy Sak’s website
- More about how Bivy Sak works
- Follow Bivy Sak on Facebook or Instagram
- See some of their past box themes
What got you started with Bivy Sak?
“I think the brain child was Eric Liebold, my partner in Colorado. We’re all outdoor enthusiasts, weekend warrior types and we all enjoy, obviously as part of our outdoor passion, buying gear...With the box craze, those subscription boxes really blew up around 2013 and I think it was Eric’s wife who used to get Birchbox. He just had the idea that it would be really cool to have a subscription box that we as outdoor enthusiasts could look forward to receiving…”
What did you grow up doing to get you outside?
“I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado so really right at the footstep of the mountains. My parents never had much money so we grew up camping quite a bit so I’ve always had a love for the outdoors. I went to law school in Tulsa, Oklahoma but, then upon graduation was moved up to Anchorage, Alaska…”
How did you connect with your co-founders Eric and Joe?
“Obviously Eric had the idea. Eric and I used to wait tables in college in Colorado Springs and were always sitting in the back just trading ideas...we had bantered ideas around for, call it, 5-7 years and he came to me with this idea...We jumped into it without a business plan...Eric and Joe were close friends so Eric brought Joe in right away...He was a Captain in the US Army...it was interesting because we quickly realized we were good idea men but we were lacking that millennial know-how…”
Is the goal to turn it into a full time job for everyone involved?
“Yeah, I mean where we’re going is to be determined. We’re interested in growing at this point but, I think best case scenario is we’re all serial entrepreneurs. So, we’ll get our business to that critical mass where someone bigger comes in and acquires us and then we take that capital and start something else…”
What has the growth been like since you started?
“It’s been interesting because right when we started, not either Eric, Joe, or I had any background in marketing. We initially came out and had these animated videos created and we got them Youtube. Then we found out about box opened on Youtube and then we quickly learned about box openings on Youtube which really spiked our subscriber base…”
What was the process in building box and figuring out the logistics or turning a profit?
“Man, it’s tough. We try to coordinate the boxes with the season so, you want to have a seasonal theme based on the four traditional seasons...In each box we try to have a premier item something that we know people are going to get excited about and see the quality in and, then we try to spice it up. We throw in as many new and upcoming companies as we can…”
Did you have any mentors that helped you guys figure Bivy Sak out?
“Id say not in the traditional sense. We’ve gone out and looked for capital and talked to some private equity venture capitalists and a lot of the questions they asked were out of our wheelhouse...None of us really had a lot of the chops to put things together in what you’d call your typical business format. With that said, that’s probably the best place to be in terms of learning…”
What does a normal day look like for you?
“Honestly, Josh and Tyler run the day to day. I probably check in with them every quarter and will ask them if they need help with anything. We structured into the transfer agreement where we get a Bivy Sak each quarter. It’s awesome because I get to feel that excitement…”
What has been the hardest part about building Bivy Sak?
“I think the hardest part for me would be the stress of working a 10 to 12 hour day at my day job and coming home to see a comment in our inbox...you’re tired at the end of the day and I want to come home and chill out…”
What is your greatest fear and how do you manage it?
“My greatest fear is you wake up one day and someone else has created that widget that you had the idea for and you read about how they sold their widget for X amount of millions and they’re sitting on the beach somewhere…I wouldn’t even call it a fear, I’d call it a discomfort...I’ve transferred the skills I’ve learned from Bivy to starting other businesses and giving advice with starting other businesses...”
What would have to happen with Bivy to make that jump to go full time?
“I think the fact of the matter is my life is really awesome right now. I work for a great company, they respect my quality of life...I took a month off in May and June and climbed Denali. I work for a corporation, I’m a lawyer, and that’s not supposed to happen. You’re supposed to grind, not take a day off, and be chained to a desk…I think to walk away, something would have to take a major turn...”
What advice would you give someone who would want to start a business?
I’d say make sure you’re passionate about whatever you want to do in terms of starting a business. I think a lot of people, when they start a business, they look at something that’s very profitable but, maybe they have zero interested in. Whatever business you start if you’re passionate about it you’re going to be successful in it…There’s that quote ‘don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who come alive’...”
Where do you see Bivy Sak headed into the future?
“It’s going to continue to expand. You look at these guys and where they’re taking it...I think there is nowhere to go but up. The market is interesting; we initially started this thinking outdoor enthusiasts would be our main market which they’re not. The guy who’s out in the mountains every weekend loves to go to REI and shop for his own gear so I think there’s still quite a bit of untapped subscribers out there…”
What’s the best part about starting Bivy Sak?
“Probably the gear aspect. When we used to build the gear boxes we used to have a rotation to see who’s box theme gets picked...when we started talking about the next quarter’s box we’d debate, and you could just hear people googling pitching new gear...think about it, if you had to put together a sweet box of outdoor gear that was seasonally themed, you have a very limited budget, it’s a challenge, it’s definitely a puzzle…that was probably the best part...”