Boot Camp Participant My Trail Company Plans Colorado DPO

Boot Camp Participant My Trail Company Plans Colorado DPO

By Andy Bamber

The great outdoors. You might be thinking you’re heading out into it au naturel, unburdened of the cares of the material world and that stuff we call money. But chances are, before you’ve even stepped foot on Mount Shasta or breathed the cool, crisp air of Yosemite, you’ve already spent several hundreds of dollars on outdoor apparel and equipment to make your time more “enjoyable.” You’re also likely to be carrying gear that could approach 100 pounds, or more.

It’s a beautiful idea to be able to enjoy the outdoors for a few hours or days of restorative, mindful recreation, and that’s just what Demetri Coupounas and Kim Coupounas, the founders of Colorado-based My Trail Company, want you to do. Simple, high-performance gear that’s light on the planet is the guiding philosophy behind the new company.

In the same spirit of returning to first principles for outdoor gear, My Trail Company is planning to conduct a Direct Public Offering (DPO) to raise investment capital to get the venture off the ground. My Trail Company is just one of the ten companies that took part in our recently completed fourth DPO Boot Camp, our group format for taking entrepreneurs through the DPO preparation and filing process.

My Trail Company has yet to receive regulatory approval for their DPO, so the terms of the investment opportunity cannot be disclosed. What can be said is that the company plans to use the funds raised to change the outdoor apparel industry in a similar manner to Demetri and Kim’s previous venture, GoLite, which revolutionized the industry when it began 16 years ago, but which went into bankruptcy last year and was liquidated to make way for a healthier, more profitable company better able to serve its customers.

While My Trail Company is an entirely new entity and not a successor to GoLite, it has purchased the intellectual property and several other assets of the former company, and is off to a strong start. It has incorporated as a Colorado benefit corporation. Later, it plans to seek B Corp certification. My Trail plans to use the funds raised in its DPO to purchase inventory and launch an e-commerce site, before eventually opening a series of highly profitable physical stores.

Demetri, who himself has an MBA from Harvard and a broad background in business and government, including a stint at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, arrived at the decision to do a DPO after initially starting out thinking he would raise money from accredited investors. When he found that, more often than not, what he had in common with investors was an MBA, not a love of the outdoors, he reassessed.

For him, a DPO makes sense because it is aligned with cutting out the middleman, something they strive to do with My Trail Company, a move uncommon to the outdoor apparel industry. Traditionally, a long line of middlemen extract value in the supply chain, which is largely to blame for the high cost of outdoor gear. Demetri wants to add value back into the relationship between the supplier and the consumer. “A DPO is totally on brand, and makes sense. It’s how we want to approach the universe, in terms of suppliers, customers, investors—it’s everything you need, nothing you don’t, simplicity,” he says.

While Demetri is realistic about the challenges of starting and scaling a business, he believes that a DPO will be critical to My Trail Company’s success, as a way to both engage a wide circle of supporters and increase company performance. “I look forward to raising capital from lots folks who believe in and already understand the mission of the company. A DPO is a powerful force to increase the performance of the entity,” he says.

As a participant in Cutting Edge Capital’s DPO Boot Camp, Demetri will receive all of the information, materials, and support necessary to design and seek regulatory approval for a public offering of securities in Colorado. The offering will be open to both accredited and unaccredited investors. Through the DPO Boot Camp, clients receive the same benefits of working with us individually, but in a supportive group format of like-minded entrepreneurs.

With My Trail Company’s DPO fast approaching, preparations are running full tilt at the company’s headquarters in Boulder, home to a large population of dedicated outdoor enthusiasts. When the DPO launches, the company plans a marketing and outreach campaign to get the word out to the local community. Demetri is fond of saying “the fishing is best right where you are” and anticipates considerable interest in the offering.

From our vantage point at Cutting Edge Capital, we couldn’t agree more. Raising “community capital” can be a powerful way to start or grow your values-driven business.

Cutting Edge Capital’s next boot camp begins on April 23rd. Learn more about the program here.

Story of a Repentant Angel

Mike Michalowicz, author of the book Profit First, sold his multimillion-dollar computer forensic investigations business to a Fortune 500 firm. He then decided to become an angel investor. Here is what happened next:

I decided that investing in a dozen brand-new start-ups was the best way to use my windfall. After all, it was only a matter of time before my entrepreneurial genius rubbed off on these promising companies. . .

Then, I started writing checks—five thousand to one person, ten thousand to another, every month more checks, and still more . . . There was never enough revenue to cover the ever- increasing mountain of bills.

Because of my massive ego, I didn’t allow the good people who started these businesses to become true entrepreneurs. They were just my pawns. I ignored the signs and kept funneling money into my investments, sure that King Midas would be able to turn it all around.

Within twelve months, all of the companies I invested in, save for one, went belly-up. When I started writing checks to pay bills for companies that had already folded, I realized that I was not an angel investor; I was the Angel of Death.

Maker’s Common: connecting food and community through a DPO

Maker’s Common: connecting food and community through a DPO

By Andy Bamber

The folks behind San Francisco’s Mission Cheese, a renowned cheese shop and eatery, have just launched a Direct Public Offering to finance a new venture called Maker’s Common. Like Mission Cheese, the focus of the establishment will be on creating an inviting gathering place for neighborhood residents to enjoy artisanally produced cheeses, charcuterie, beer, and, as always, mandatory cheer and good spirits. With this new project, however, a full kitchen will allow the team to expand their menu while a bigger space will make room for a retail shop carrying an extensive selection of local cheese, bread, beer, and wine. What’s more, Maker’s Common will be a place for re-connecting consumers, farmers, and makers with “the story behind the food.”

To fund the project’s launch, Maker’s Common is raising $600,000 through a Direct Public Offering of promissory notes to both accredited and unaccredited investors. Investors in the DPO are eligible to receive an annual interest rate of 4%, payable 3% in cash and 1% in store credit, over the loan’s 7-year term. The investment opportunity is open to California residents only.

After considering multiple sources of financing, the founders of Maker’s Common went with a DPO, convinced that it was the investment vehicle most aligned with their ethos as a community-oriented food business. They concluded  that through a DPO they would be able to offer local investors a competitive rate of return and still pay less than they would in interest on an equivalent bank loan, all while avoiding the use of their personal assets as collateral. Several iterations of Excel spreadsheets later, the math worked out, giving them a lower cost of capital over the long run. On top of all this, they wanted to harness the community-building aspect of a DPO, whereby customers become investors and brand ambassadors, to have a community ready to support them when they opened their doors.

 

Having raised $52,000 from 13 investors as of April 1st, Maker’s Common is off to a strong start in their fundraising campaign.

Now that the offering is in full swing, Oliver Dameron, one of the company’s founders, states that they can feel the buzz and excitement building. Reflecting for a moment, he recalls how it was hard to imagine the community-building aspect of DPOs. “The power of doing a DPO can’t be fully stated. It’s only been a few weeks and already we are building a community that will support our business. That wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.”

For all of the investment of time and resources that a DPO can involve, Oliver thinks that the upside outweighs all of that. “One of the things we’re most excited about is having people connect to the business. We did an Indiegogo campaign previously and as a perk put our supporters’ names up on our wall in sheep’s wool. We’re going to do that again at Maker’s Common. We’ve really been able to see how valuable it is to people to feel like they’re a part of a small business.”

While it’s still early in the Maker’s Common DPO, at Cutting Edge Capital we’re excited for Oliver and his team to build an investor community that believes in the company’s mission to connect American artisanal producers directly with consumers and the inspiring stories behind their food.

Oliver feels the same. As our conversation winds down, Oliver says raising money in this way is a totally different way to do business.

“It’s going to be awesome. It’s long-term but it’s now.”

The Maker’s Common DPO is listed on CuttingEdgeX and can be found on Maker’s Common website