Necessity inspires innovation. Just look at Cold Case Gear, a Pagosa Springs startup that manufactures insulated, waterproof phone cases for backcountry adventures. After numerous electronic failures in extreme conditions, Jon Rosenberg and his wife Deirdre decided to build the toughest and most cold resistant cases on the market. Now, Cold Case Gear is launching their West Slope Thermal Phone Case, just in time for winter. We spoke with Jon about his experience launching an outdoor startup in rural Colorado.
Startup Colorado: You launched Cold Case Gear after a successful Kickstarter campaign. What tips do you have for other businesses considering crowdfunding?
Jon: Calculate every single cent that you need and tack on 20% for unforeseen expenses and various fees. Make sure that your product has a good enough margin that you can grow once you have fulfilled orders. It’s easy to run out of money AND product. You need great margins to truly launch your business off Kickstarter.
Startup Colorado: The outdoor market is a pretty crowded place. How did you carve a niche for yourself?
Jon: This is a constantly evolving process. When we launched, we knew we had a niche, but having the niche wasn’t what spurred us to start the business. So, the way we differentiate ourselves is by leaning into things like price objections (yes, we cost more. It’s worth it. That sort of thing). We also put our core values first. When you buy Cold Case Gear, you’re buying into our mission as much as our product.
Startup Colorado: How has living in rural Colorado influenced the design behind Cold Case Gear?
Jon: We live in a truly rugged place and we need products that can handle this type of terrain and lifestyle. We have tested things by literally throwing them off of cliffs (my iPhone didn’t get a scratch). Having a harsh environment doesn’t mean that you don’t get to do your job or that you shouldn’t enjoy it. We want to build products that withstand the worst elements so that you can play in them and not worry about your equipment.
Startup Colorado: Cold Case Gear is the first business from Archuleta County to participate in the Rural Jump-Start Program. How do you expect this program to impact your business?
Jon: I expect that the perks will help to bring in some very talented people. On top of the great personal and business perks of this program I think it will help to galvanize our team into building something really great. We want to bring advanced manufacturing into Pagosa Springs and I think that having the support of Rural Jumpstart and the connections that can bring will be instrumental in making that happen.
Startup Colorado: What’s next for Cold Case Gear?
Jon: Next is learning how to scale appropriately and effectively. While I have sights on future products and marketing initiatives our current goal is to find some stability in the marketplace and really define our audience. I’ll be focusing on bringing in more organic traffic to our website and selling more products, more effectively, to people who have never heard of us.