To enjoy the great outdoors, all you need is the right equipment. The challenge is getting it organized. Not to mention it’s expensive and requires cleaning and storage after the adventure. That’s where Xscape Pod comes in. From tents and sleeping bags to cooking sets and headlamps, they offer a comprehensive camping gear rental solution that delivers pre-packed pods filled with all the essentials. The best gear, tested by beginners and experts alike, out where it matters. Nic Parrish, the founder of Xscape Pod, talks about his struggles and triumphs when building a company.
What was the spark that inspired the birth of your concept?
It was a backpacking trip on the JMT in 2016. My dad, brother in law and me were all descending on Yosemite from separate locations. The challenge of planning, packing and transporting gear was real. Upon returning from our trip a simple google search revealed that there was a gap in the “curated and bundled gear on-demand” space. The logistical challenge of that trip was actually a big opportunity to create a better outfitting solution.
What problem does it solve?
Xscape Pod solves several problems including these below to name just a few:
- Knowing what to pack, which brands to trust
- Avoiding significant cost to invest in all the gear
- Transporting gear
- Storing gear
- Cleaning gear
How did you come up with the name?
I made a list of hundreds of names. Xscape Pod came from the idea of escape pod, a self contained vessel complete with everything needed to survive and get out of town, perfect for our service.
How are you better/different than your competition?
There are several on-deamnd gear rental outfitters across the country but we like to think we have the best, and easiest to use booking interface and a stronger brand than others. We also feature the best quality gear when comparing tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves and other equipment
How do you make money?
Our primary source of income is by renting camping equipment. We also sell new and used equipment and have paid trip planning services.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Creating something that gives our customers the ability to get outdoors and make memories that will last a lifetime.
What has been the biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date?
How well our customers treat our gear, most pods come back very clean with nearly folded tents and washed dishes, honestly I’m often amazed. We have had very few broken or lost gear items. It’s kind of restored faith in humanity in a small way 😉
Your biggest success?
Balance. While our business is growing triple digits every year our founding team still holds down a day job. Balancing work, marriage, raising kids, and starting a business is hard work, but totally worth it. Like they say, it’s about the journey.
Do you have a failure story to share? What did you learn from this failure?
I’ve learned that not all dollars invested in the business pay back the same. I’ve been underwhelmed by some paid marketing opportunities that looked good but didn’t pan out. Mastering how to spend the next dollar in the most efficient way is a long road, but you learn and improve every day.
As an entrepreneur, what keeps you up at night?
How do we grow faster and unlock opportunities that help us scale quickly. Oh, and fundraising.
What is the best entrepreneurial advice you have received (and from whom)?
To be sure to look back every once in a while to acknowledge the progress we’ve made. Running a business is a grind and it can be overwhelming but looking back to think about the challenges overcome and the positive growth helps to keep the passion and stoke the flame to keep going.
What is your #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur?
Just build it. Many potential entrepreneurs get bogged down with research, audience profiling, proforma building, all forms of procrastination. If you have an idea build an MVP as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Don’t let “getting it perfect” hold you back.
What is the #1 book you would recommend for a budding entrepreneur?
I get inspired by hearing others’ stories of how they build businesses, overcame failure and ultimately succeeded. Some favorites would be Phil Knight’s Show Dog and Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity. Also Crush it by Gary V. is a quick and very inspiring read.
What song best describes your entrepreneurial journey?
Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.
Imagine your venture becomes wildly successful. What does that look like?
We’re creating a new category- vertically integrated camping. We’re on the path towards building a one stop shop for camping needs including campsite, gear, food, and transportation. Started in Portland, but expanding to other states in 2020.
What’s your favorite local business and why?
Pfriem Brewery, great beer, great branding.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Paleontologist, then professional soccer player, and then by the age of 16 I knew it was business/entrepreneurship for me after starting a vintage t-shirt business in the early days of eBay
Do you think Oregon is a good place to start a business? How has it helped you, and what challenges has it posed?
Having lived in Oregon for the past 6 years it’s fast becoming “our forever place”. It’s obvious to us that Oregonians are incredibly supportive of a good homegrown idea. Being one of the top outdoor destinations in the US, Oregon certainly helps our business relevancy. The one challenge we find is that because Oregon is such a great outdoor playground most local residents already own camping gear. This fact has seen us pivot more towards targeting tourists and a younger demographic that may not yet own gear.
Any other tidbits or fun facts to share?
My cofounders and I all met while working at a Portland Advertising agency R2C Group
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