Rising StarNeed Help Surviving a Tsunami? Pete Riedel Has a Pod for That.

The “Really Big One” is coming to the Pacific Northwest, they say. And while most of us would rather not think about it, Pete Riedel and Randy Harper, co-founders of Reliable Emergency Shelters, think about it nearly every day.

In fact, for over a decade, Randy has been wondering how he could help protect the Pacific Northwest’s most vulnerable potential victims—those who live in tsunami flood zones. Enter the RescuePod. Here, Pete tells us more:



What was the spark that inspired the birth of your concept? The RescuePod Tsunami survival shelter design came out of seeing the carnage of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that killed over a ¼ million people.

What problem does it solve? The RescuePod provides protection from drowning and being crushed by objects in the debris field that comes inland with a tsunami. This is mainly for people who do not live close to high ground and cannot evacuate.

How did you come up with the name? RescuePod is a pod and used to save lives so it just made sense.

How do you differentiate from your competition? Though we are in a niche industry, we are about half the cost of our nearest competitor. Our RescuePods are made of highly buoyant and durable HDPE, whereas our competitor’s are made of metal or fiberglass.

How do you make money? We sell to homeowners who live in Tsunami areas. Each unit sells for $6,500.

A RescuePod bobs on the water as the Coast Guard approaches.
A RescuePod bobs on the water as the Coast Guard approaches.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur? Having control over the roadmap of our company and decision-making process.

What has been the biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date? We have had an overwhelming amount of search and rescue personnel volunteer to help while we do our testing. Some tests, such as our waterfall test, would not have been possible without the help of the great people of Kickitat County Search and Rescue. They had all the off-duty officers come out to help with our testing without even asking. I am glad they showed, as it could have been real bad without them.

Your biggest success? So far, we have streamlined our manufacturing to produce our RescuePod in mass, which allowed us to go to market this year.

As an entrepreneur, what keeps you up at night? Not knowing what’s around the corner in our niche marketplace.

What is the best entrepreneurial advice you have received? “Always follow the golden rule. He who has the gold makes the rules.”  – Tom McGovern, Immersive Media

What is your advice for a budding entrepreneur? Learn from your mistakes; however, if you can learn from other people’s mistakes, do that instead. Also, choose your partners wisely and always get things in writing.

What is the #1 book you would recommend for a budding entrepreneur? The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by by Michael E. Gerber.

Each RescuePod can accommodate up to two adults weighing no more than 300 pounds each.
Each RescuePod can accommodate two adults weighing up to 300 pounds each.

Imagine your venture becomes wildly successful. What does that look like? Household name recognition to people who live in tsunami zones, multiple manufacturing facilities in Southeast Asia and the United States, a GSA schedule (long-term government-wide contracts with commercial companies), and Coast Guard approval to allow RescuePods on vessels.

What’s your favorite local business and why? McMenamins. They took a small restaurant and pub concept and turned it into a multimillion dollar empire while maintaining their eclectic, entertaining brand.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A pilot.

Do you think Oregon is a good place to start a business? We are actually formed in Vancouver, WA just across the river. Light industrial space is hard to come by here, but there are a great number of resources for aspiring entrepreneurs around all corners.

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