Your gear is waiting. Rachelle Snyder and Ross Richmond from Arrive Outdoors are flipping the script on outdoor gear ownership and renting.
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First Exposure to the Outdoors:
Ross: I think for me, it was a summertime. Most of my family is up in New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee. My mother’s the oldest of eight in a big Catholic family. We would spend the summers together and go on to a little island on Lake Winnipesaukee and do a lot of hiking and camping. That was the culture that I was born into.
Rachelle: I grew up in Northern Indiana, and ever since I was a baby, my mom would take us camping in Michigan. We’d go on Lake Michigan to Waco Beach and go camping just up from the beach. We’d spend our days at the beach hiking, finding creeks, and playing in the water. It’s really fun because now, it’s come full circle. In a couple of weeks, I’m going camping again with my mom, my sister, and my sister’s three little girls. We get to take them all camping up at Waco Beach as well.
Things We Talked About:
Other Outdoor Activities:
Surfing, running, backpacking, camping
Give and Take by Adam Grant
The Originals by Adam Grant
River of Doubt by Candace Millard
Favorite Piece of Gear under $100:
Connect with Rachelle and Ross:
Arrive – Gear Rental May Change The Way You Recreate Outdoors… Maybe It Already Has With Rachelle Snyder And Ross Richmond
I’m excited to be talking to Rachelle Snyder and Ross Richmond from Arrive. First off, they won the Outdoor Retailer of the Year at OR. We talked about their new gear rental business and the future of gear ownership versus renting. First, if you’re thinking about starting your own podcast for your brand or passion project, I’ve created a free cheat sheet outlining ten fundamental steps to create and launch your podcast. It has everything you need to know about planning, creating and launching. Head over to RickSaez.com and download this free resource now.
Welcome to the show.
Thanks for having us.
It’s good to catch up with you. I’m sorry I missed meeting you guys at OR. Our paths must have crossed a million times.
We felt like we said that to many people. There was just so much going on with that.
You guys must have a blast. Was that your first time there?
That was our first time at OR and we were able to meet a ton of awesome people. Ross met with a lot of our brands. It was a great time. I participated in the Camber Outdoors Pitchfest and we did the Outdoor Retailer Inspiration Awards. It was a great event.
Now that you’re there, I know you’ll have to go twenty years in a row. That’s the average. There are a lot of longtime people and thanks to Jim Thompson for connecting us. How did you guys meet him?
Arrive won Outdoor Retailer of the Year at the Outdoor Retailer Inspiration Awards. We met Jim and his wife after the award ceremony ended and hit it off. He offered to have a call and talk with us and connect with some great people in the industry. One of those people was you.
He and his wife had this enthusiastic energy that’s in tune with us.
I’m lucky they live up in Mammoth. I get to see them once in a while.
They’re not too far from here.
How did you guys get exposed to the outdoors? What was your first outdoor adventure or camping trip as a kid? How did that come down?
For me, it was summertime. Most of my family is up in New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee in Vermont and that New England area. In all of our family, my mother is the oldest of eight in a big Catholic family. We would spend the summers together, go on to a little island on Lake Winnipesaukee, and do a lot of hiking and camping. That was a culture I was born into.
Our big model and our big idea is to provide gear right away for people to easily get outside in a sustainable way.
Did you go through every summer camping or all the time?
We have a little house. It’s all like cabin living. There’s an island called Pitchwood Island. That’s where a lot of the Federspiel, my mother’s name, hang out every summer. We hike across the way and there’s a bunch of islands and hiking trails up there. We would spend summers there every summer on the lake.
I grew up in Northern Indiana. Ever since I was a baby, my mom would take us camping on Lake Michigan to Weko Beach. We would go camping up from the beach and then spend our days at the beach, hiking, going and finding creeks and playing in the water. It’s fun because now it has come full circle. I’m going camping again with my mom, my sister and my sister’s three little girls. Now, we get to take them all camping up at Weko as well.
Did you guys work in traditional outdoor retail or outdoor manufacturing? How did you get into the outdoor biz side of things?
Neither one of us came traditionally from the outdoor industry but we’ve both always participated in the outdoors. We grew up camping, hiking, you name it and we’ve done it. We’ve gone backpacking. We’re super outdoorsy and enjoy spending time in the outdoors. We decided to get into this business when we moved from Boston to Los Angeles.
In that move, we shucked all of our old gear. The gear was tired and it was not super great. When we got to Los Angeles, we realized that we could go hiking, camping, surfing and do a ton of stuff but we were living in a 600-square-foot bungalow. There was no way that, one, we could store all of this gear. Two, we didn’t want to own all this gear. We started looking for a bunch of options and there wasn’t a good option out there, which led us to start Arrive.
I would say we appreciate much more as consumers than industry veterans. We love all the people who grew up in that space. We grew up coming from an outdoor biz background.
What was the catalyst for moving out West?
My background, I was in education for many years. My last role was working for an EdTech startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts that moved us out to Los Angeles. That was our big impetus for moving out West.
Did you jump right into the Arrive thing? Did it take a while? What did you guys do when you first got here?
We were getting our bearings. The West Coast is much different than the East Coast. It took us a year or so to get our bearings but it wasn’t too long after that. We were trying to get outdoors and access a bunch of gear and not having the option to do it. We said, “We’ll do this and see if it works.”
The seed of the idea happened quickly when we got outside and we wanted to do all these things. We didn’t feel like there was an option to do them without spending a serious amount of money that we didn’t necessarily have from the move. It festered and started out saying like, “I wonder if anybody else thinks about that this way. Maybe we could throw together a website. Let’s see if there are some other people out there. Let’s test the waters.” The feedback was instant and enthusiastic. We were like, “Let’s do this.”
Tell our readers a little bit about Arrive. You guys won Outdoor Retailer of the Year at the show. Congratulations. It’s very exciting.
Thank you. We were pumped.
Tell everybody about Arrive. How does it work? What is it all about?
Arrive is an outdoor experience company. We partner with premium outdoor gear brands and offer their gear for rent on our platform. Our big model and idea are to provide right away for people to easily get outside in a sustainable way. By doing that, we offer gear-for-rent on our platform. That’s going to ensure that people have a phenomenal time in the outdoors.
You go on our site and select the gear you need for your trip. We’re here to help as well with that process. You select the dates you want to go. It arrives about two days before your date right at your door. You go out and get to experience the gear. You feel like a rock star when you get out there especially if you’re going with your friends because your gear is probably some of the best at the whole campsite. Your friend might be a veteran but your tent is pristine.
We all know if you’re a veteran, your tent is old. My gear is ancient.
It should be because you’re fixing and maintaining it. We get you your gear and you go outside. When you come back, you slap the included return label on the box. You drop it off at FedEx or Walgreens. It will be shipped right back to our warehouse in Los Angeles.
That’s pretty slick.
It’s convenient. The idea is, if you have a family and you’re trying to get your kids out to go camping, oftentimes for our customers, digging out the old tent in the garage or a young professional where you don’t even have that gear to begin with because you have a five-story walkup in New York or you name it. For you, the barriers are both mental and real with the gear.
What we do is allow you to focus on getting the kids in the car, all of the things you need from the diapers to the whatever and then we’ll cover the rest. We’ll cover having all that stuff arrived so that you can put it in your trunk. You know that we have your back. When you get outside, you feel great that you were able to do that without having to deal with any of the hassles that so many people do and are prevented from getting outside in the first place.
Does it come with the instructions and all that? Do you walk them through how to light the stove without blowing their face off or how to set the tent up? You must do a lot of instructions on that.
We provide instructions with our gear. Most of our gear comes with instructions when we send it. We also are always available. We have a great customer service staff. If you have a question about setting anything up, you can always give us a call. You can text or message us on our website and somebody will be in touch right away.
What’s the funniest question you’ve gotten so far? Someone will send you a FaceTime of, “Here’s the tent. It doesn’t look right. What do I do?” Have you had any cool stories about that yet?
My all-time favorite question we got was this woman who was requesting instructions on how to inflate a self-inflating sleeping mat. That was my favorite.
That’s a good one. You don’t know that, “Self-inflating, how does that work?” That’s a good question.
It says it right on there. We get a few people who are like, “If you’ve never lit a propane stove, you think there’s going to be a fire danger.”
We’re going to do better, we’re going to continue to do better, and we’re going to be a part of the solutions we’re trying to create.
The bomb is going to blow up.
A lot of it is instilling confidence in people. A picture goes a long way in showing something. We felt growing up that sometimes the industry can be pretty insular. Some of the pictures that you see in the outdoor industry are like a man climbing a base with a 30,000-foot drop or whatever.
It’s like hero shots.
For so many of our customers, it’s a chance to detach from their life and reconnect with the people they’re with in a social way and get outside. They’re not trying to scale half.
They’re probably going to the state park down the street, just camping.
Most people are within 2 to 3 hours. It’s about bringing that vibe, which says like, “You got this.” If we can make you feel like that then we feel like we’ve succeeded.
When I was working at the age of sixteen and when I started my career, we got a call one time. A guy wanted to know if we rented backpacking food. We always keep telling that story wherever, “Do we have a rent backpacking food? Not really.” That’s an interesting question. Do you guys do food as well? Can somebody get some freeze-dried meals that come along with all their tent and cooking stuff?
We don’t offer food and sell anything. One of the funny things of winning Outdoor Retailer was that we don’t sell anything. Eventually, within the next 6 to 9 months, we’ll start offering some of those add-ons. A lot of brands and companies reach out to us who want to add it to our site. I’m sure that in the near future, it will be available for you to add on some of your food at checkout.
The customers drive all of that for us. We want to make it as convenient as possible and that’s our mission. If we get enough requests, it doesn’t have to be that many or we’ll always try something. That’s something we’re going to try because our customers want it and we’ll try to make it happen.
Tell us a little bit about how you engage consumers. How do they find you? Did you do a lot of outreach? Did they find you online searching for renting gear? How does that work?
We’ve been lucky for the past couple of years. We’ve been around since 2017. For the first little bit, most people were finding us via organic search. They’re searching for things locally, a lot of word of mouth. We’ve had a lot of people reach out to us since Outdoor Retailer. We’re excited to share that we are partnering with ReserveAmerica starting on July 10th, 2021. We’re launching our partnership with them as their exclusive gear rental provider. It will be incredibly easy for people to find us and access to gear.
Do you ship gear nationally?
We shift gear anywhere in the contiguous US. We’re not quite shipping to Hawaii and Marshall Islands but if you’re in the contiguous US then we can get to you.
As long as you have an address, we’ll ship to your Airbnb hotel, a FedEx location near a state national park or right to your door. A lot of people do go on trips right from their homes.
The other thing too is that although we don’t ship to those locations, we have a ton of people who end up running backpacking gear with us. We’ll travel to those locations or even internationally with our gear.
They ship it home and then they go on some trip overseas. That’s cool. Who is your ideal customer?
Our customer is the average person and it’s who we know. Across the country, we know that 3 out of 4 Americans prefer to spend money on experiences over ownership. That’s the vast majority of us. A lot of people want to get outdoors and feel prohibited by not having the right gear. Our people are those experience-spending people who want to focus on the experience rather than the ownership piece. They’re the families in the Midwest. It’s the urban professional who is working in New York City and Manhattan. It’s the extreme backpacker who likes to get out in Portland who maybe wants to try out a cool sleeping pad. There are a plethora of people out there who could all use Arrive.
Do you guys listen to the Tim Ferriss Podcast?
Yes, we do.
He had Kevin Kelly. The guy that started Wired was on his show. Do you know the story?
Yes. It’s good.
He had this vision where in the future, none of us are going to own any of these things. It’s all going to be a box. If we’re going to go on a bike ride, we just go online and order our bike, bike shoes and whatnot. It shows up in our box. We go do our little ride and put it back in the box. It goes back, gets maintained, cleaned and ready for the next adventure. You guys are delivering on that.
I could not agree with you more. It’s not just that that’s going to be the future. It has to be the future. With the environment, climate change and looming crisis ahead of us, it can’t be possible for twenty people in one neighborhood to all own their tent or people in a neighborhood to all own a lawnmower because utilization has to be the key to our future. We have to think about products not in terms of ownership but in terms of utilization.
How can we make sure that a tent or lawnmower is being used in a way where we can cut down on having to create twenty individual lawnmowers because several of us can use it at a time in a neighborhood? There has to be an economy that allows that sharing to happen. It’s not like we all share one lawnmower. That’s a nightmare. If it takes twenty tents for all of us to own our own tent, maybe it only takes ten to satisfy the utilization that we need throughout the year depending on our behavior and path in that way.
It depends on the activity. We believe there should be someone whose interest is in maintaining that item or economy. For us, instead of having a system where we all share items and there’s a peer-to-peer sharing model, we don’t think that that works as well as if you have one person whose economic interest is involved in maintaining the quality of those items. That’s why we think that it would be a steward.
It’s a public good that someone is maintaining interest in that stream or landmass. We love that the federal government does that on a national level but there have to be economies created around that and it’s all about utilization. Any other way doesn’t make sense. We can’t consume our way out of the crisis. We can’t recycle our way.
Stop using plastic bottles. It’s not going to cut it. We got to go a little deeper than that.
That’s a foundational core belief that we hold here. You nailed it right on the head.
We are very much with the idea that if we don’t have to buy it and we don’t use it every week, then we won’t buy it.
Where do you see future growth for you guys coming from like new products and new channels? You have other countries to go to. What does that look like?
Definitely, other countries to go to. We are always looking for incredible brands to partner with us. We have brands reaching out all the time. We’re always happy to talk with brands to get on their platform so that they can start offering a sustainable model for their consumers. Reach that brand-new consumer segment where people who wouldn’t previously go out and buy but now have access to this brand and product to get out there. We’re always talking about new products and brands. We’re excited to share that we’re going to be launching into snow this fall of 2021 and doing apparel. Think of snow pants, jackets, goggles, and we’re working with some cool brands to launch that.
What are a couple of accomplishments you’re most proud of? Getting this thing off the ground was huge. That wasn’t a weekend project.
I do think that being awarded Outdoor Retailer of the Year was exciting for us. It was incredible validation from the industry to say, “This is the new way that we have to be thinking about the industry.” For us, we know that consumers have been waiting for this. When Forbes came out with that study with 3 out of 4 Americans, that didn’t happen overnight. This has been happening for a while and the industry hadn’t stepped up until we started this company. We are here to say, “We’re going to meet consumer demand and help people have a phenomenal experience in a sustainable way while still accessing our favorite outdoor brands across the country.”
The biggest thing is the mini-accomplishments. When you run a business, it’s all victories.
It’s the day-to-day battle that makes the big wins so cool.
It’s those customers that you know they’ve got busy lives. They still reach out to you and send you an email like, “It’s hectic in the home. We barely get enough time to connect as a family but this past weekend, we got out and had a phenomenal time. You guys were a crucial part of making that happen with ease.” All of the parts go into a trip where we get to be a part of someone’s special, memorable moment during the year.
Being in an outdoor travel space is a pretty special place to be. It’s emotional for a lot of people. We get to be a part of that. It’s those messages and things we hear from customers. We don’t solicit them but when they happen, it’s high-fives all around in the office. From the warehouse team to the people who are picking and packing, doing quality control, partnership managers, to everywhere up the food chain, it feels good to know that all of that we can high-five and be like, “We did that.”
Do you guys do anything there to foster that culture? How do you run the day-to-day thing? You must have meetings and things like that. Are there any other things that you do special or unique that might foster that culture?
It all comes down to hiring. Hiring is hard. There’s no getting around finding the right people. For us, we’re always looking for good-hearted people who want to help us build this company, scale it and reach more people. It’s being real, having conversations, understanding who they are, where they come from and what their kid’s name is.
It’s all about the optimist to me. We faced some pretty big challenges and hiring the people who could face those challenges and say like, “We’re going to continue to do better. We got this. We’re going to be a part of the solutions we’re trying to create.” When you can get someone who hasn’t turned to the dark side because it’s so easy, we’re like, “We’re all doomed.” This is a challenge that’s insurmountable.
It’s the people who look at the challenge, see the vision and want to be a part of that because it’s so infectious. We have an infectious, viral virus team that’s spreading what this idea that we have into whether it’s into the boxes and orders or as evangelists of our company. When they’re talking to people about where they work and what have you, they’re like, “We work hard. We’re trying to build something here with the vision and it’s a better world.”
An evangelist is a good term. We all need evangelists to work with us to help carry on the mission. You guys also receive support. You’re in an incubator-type situation.
We’re a Science-portfolio company. Science is an incubator/venture firm based in Santa Monica. We partnered with them in 2021 and they’re also our investors. They work directly with us to support in whatever way that we need in terms of social media help, acquisition, or marketing. They have a team of experts that’s there to help us throughout the day. Michael Jones, the CEO of Science, is on our board. He is phenomenal at strategy. We work closely with him as well.
When we’re tapping into a movement that’s already happening, we’re trying to create this change. Science has the tools when it comes to eCommerce to help us get that done, which is very exciting. They’re some of the best in the business when it comes to eCommerce. Having them take all of their years of knowledge and some of the little hats that they know, shortcuts and what have you to help us grow fast and the mistakes. They help cut down our learning curve when we’re trying to grow, build fast and meet the demand that’s out there in the market with our model.
Can you talk about some of the other brands that they’ve helped like that?
Their most prominent brand is they launched Dollar Shave Club. Michael Dubin was in Science and he launched Dollar Shave Club. Science was his first investor and helped him get off the ground. Other ones are DogVacay, which was acquired by Rover.
Let’s shift gears a little bit. What outdoor activities do you guys participate in?
We are the dabbler that we want. We’ll get hard into surfing and then for three months, we’ll be in running clubs. We’ll then say like, “I’m not doing anything except stand-up paddle.” We’re dabbling and extreme enthusiasts. We like to try everything. If it’s done outdoors, we’re not quite into the extreme stuff yet. I want to get into kitesurfing but I haven’t taken the plunge yet or maybe some BASE jumping. That’s in the future. It’s any regular recreation activity. We’re trying to do it as much as possible.
We have a great group of friends who are also pretty adventurous and love to go camping and backpacking. My favorite trips are when we can get all of our friends and those 6, 8 or 10 people together for an awesome backpacking trip. One of our friends got married in Peru and six of us decided to do the Salkantay Trek, which is a 60-mile, 5-day trek through the glacier. That was so much fun. You don’t forget those types of trips. Those are what we try to do at least once a year, if not every other year.
It’s a little bit of everything. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I grew up playing sports. We like to try it.
Do you have any daily routines you use to keep your sanity like meditate? Do you get a lot of exercises, walk the dog or anything like that?
A lot of it was inspired by the Tim Ferriss Podcast. I wake up early and meditate with the Headspace app, which has been helpful for me. I need a guide. I journal, which is basically a brain dump, honestly. At the end of the day, I like to do what went well, what didn’t go well and then another brain dump so I can sleep. I mess around a lot with my food intake. I’m still figuring out what gives me the most energy from breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I’m trying to think what’s going to make me most productive so that I can accomplish the things I have to do.
That’s a big-time Tim Ferriss model. Hats off to you, Tim. We listen to you and we love you. Thanks for inspiring us. He is awesome.
I’m the exact opposite of that. In my routine, I hit snooze at least three times in the morning before I get up. I’m much less intense about my routines and I always have been. My routines come into my workday and how I structure my workday. I do a lot of lists and spreadsheets. I manage everything through that. I do any workouts in the evening. That’s my prime workout time. I’m a super social person and I get all of my energy from being around people. If I can talk to my family and friends, that is my recharge time. It’s reconnecting with others.
How about some favorite books? What are your favorite books or podcasts?
For the podcast, How I Built This is a good one. That was Guy Raz. He was an inspiration for us as we first started this company and listening to all the founders, all the real moments that founders face and the fears and joy. It’s that rollercoaster that comes with starting a business. In other podcasts, we do the wake up in the morning podcasts with NPR, Up First and then New York Times, their morning with The Daily. I come from a public service background. I come from politics, both from the campaign side and then the public service side. Some of the podcasts that I do are Pod Save America. That’s my political junkie one, Tim Ferriss and then This American Life for a good cry sometimes.
Three out of four Americans prefer to spend money on experiences over ownership. That’s the vast majority of us.
Those are all good ones.
Have you ever read any Adam Grant?
I don’t know.
He is a professor at Wharton. I love his work. It’s good. He wrote a book called the Originals, which I highly recommend. His other book, which is one of my top five favorite books, is Give and Take. You’ll start to analyze all the people in your world and thinking about who they are and what type of giver, taker or neutralizer they are. It essentially starts to think about how we work as a network and start to collaborate in the power of that collaboration and then understanding the people around you and what their characteristics are.
I have to check both of those. I don’t think I’ve read either one of those.
I wanted to add one more for outdoor people’s books. One of the books I recommend about this is called The River of Doubt by Candice Millard. Teddy Roosevelt has some problematic characteristics. He went into the Amazon. When I’m digging deep, sometimes I think about the journey he took down that river. If you’re an outdoor person, it’s worth the read. It’s an adventure thriller but a real story vibe.
I have to change this question for you guys a little bit. Typically, it’s what’s your favorite outdoor gear purchase under $100 but this might need to be, what’s your favorite outdoor gear rental under $100?
We are very much with the idea that if we don’t have to buy it and use it every week, we won’t buy it. We’re living and breathing that utilization model. For me, the favorite thing that we offer is the YETI backpack cooler that we have. It’s the Hopper BackFlip 24. It’s so convenient. I love this thing. You can take it to the beach, campground and hiking. I always snag it from our team. I’ll go into the warehouse and pull one off the shelf.
I like the hammocks. We offer ENO as our brand but there are a lot of good ones out there. Whether it’s lounging at the campsite or outside with a family, barbecue or at sleeping, getting off the ground and trying that out if people haven’t done that, it’s a real pleasure to zip up the mosquito nets. You’re suspended and try doing a night’s sleep that way. I’m sure a lot of people have. It’s nice to switch it up and try different things.
What brand did you mention there?
We do ENO. We have the Nest, the Single and Double, and then the JungleNest hammocks.
As we wrap up, is there anything else you would like to ask or say to our readers?
Reach out to us if you’re interested in what we’re doing or you also have this feeling where you’re flipping through the pages of Outside Magazine. There’s all the stuff to buy and you’re like, “What about getting outside?” If that’s something that you’ve done or experienced, we would love to hear from you. There’s a real community out there that we’ve discovered and have discovered us. We wouldn’t exist without that community and we love hearing from people. We’re always looking for people to join our team too. Reach out and say, “We would love to hear from you.”
How can people find you? What’s the website?
It’s good catching up with you, Rachelle and Ross. I got to come down and see your place in LA some time to see what’s going on. It seems like I drive through there a lot. I don’t stop there much anymore but I’ll make a point to do that. If you guys ever get up here to the Eastside, come on up. We’ll go hiking or something.
Come by and grab a hammock or cooler.
Thanks a lot. Have a great day.
Thanks so much, Rick.
- Camber Outdoors Pitchfest
- Outdoor Retailer Inspiration Awards
- Tim Ferriss Podcast
- Kevin Kelly
- Michael Jones
- Dollar Shave Club
- How I Built This
- Up First
- Pod Save America
- This American Life
- https://Amzn.to/2Y6LmsF – Originals by Adam Grant
- Give and Take
- https://Amzn.to/2Y06AO5 – Give and Take by Adam Grant
- The River of Doubt
- Hopper BackFlip 24
- ENO Hammock
- Instagram – Arrive Outdoors
- Facebook – Arrive Outdoors
- Twitter – Arrive Outdoors