Startup Q&A - Plumdrop Urges Companies to Get Outdoors With Getaway Packages
For companies in the Northeast, there are several incredible options to make your next employee day trip getaway an outdoor one. There’s skiing in Vermont, hiking in upstate New Hampshire, or camping in Maine. If your team doesn’t have the accessories or tools for this trip, buying the equipment for more than one person can be pricey.
Plumdrop is providing groups of employees packages full of the right accessories to make those company outings complete. The NYC-based startup has all kinds of containers for nearly every type of outdoor activity.
Co-Founder and CEO Mansoor Basha spoke with us about Plumdrop’s mission and how a few vacations helped him come up with the idea. Since he recently moved to NYC, he also shared how NYC and Boston differ for the specific market his startup is in.
Colin Barry [CB]: Before we start talking about Plumdrop, let’s talk about your career and what led you to move from Boston to NYC.
Mansoor Basha [MB]: I realized when I started this company and did the research that NYC was a better place for this type of startup than Boston. If I were building a different startup in a different vertical, Boston would have been ideal.
Boston is an ideal market for healthcare companies and enterprise SaaS companies. I was previously involved in co-founding a healthcare MRI software company back in 2015, and we got a lot of support and easy access to capital and connections in hospitals and industry. I felt the environment was there to make and build the company there.
New York provides access to retail, fashion, travel, financial, and consumer verticals with access to customers, partners, and advisors.
CB: I’m a big fan of the phrase “origin story.” What are the origins of Plumdrop? What was the big “a-ha!” moment for starting the company?
MB: The realization came on the fifth day of the Kilimanjaro hike. Many climbs and sports activities later, as I kept moving from country to city to city, I realized I had just accumulated all these things. My scuba tank is in Istanbul, my camp gear in a friend’s garage in New Hampshire, etc.
In addition to this, I was a 200 lb smoker eight years ago. I never ventured outdoors much and missed it from my childhood days. The gym was terrifying to go to, and ever since I spent more time in the outdoors, my body, mind and soul got healthier. I felt the same applies to everyone else too. Our indoor generation is missing out on the opportunity to find happiness because we are cooped up in pigeon cages in urban jungles.
The motivation to make it to a company came from other perils of ownership issues and after coming third at Boston’s Startup Weekend, decided that there must be some meaning to this business.
The key things to remember here is :
1. Unlike GenX and baby boomers, who had large garages and used to dump all their outdoor gear in there and owned a lot of things to allow them to choose and try new outdoor activities, the Millennials don’t have that luxury. They live in cities with confined space, don’t own cars, student-loan-laden, and they can’t afford to buy and store them even if they need it to be.
2. The Instagram and fast fashion world poses a question which Kevin Hart famously asked Tiffany Haddish as narrated by her on SNL: “Did you go to all these six countries in one day? Why are you wearing the same jacket in all your Instagram photos?”
Today’s consumers aspire to do all these outdoor activities but want to look good doing it too. It’s an ‘Instagrammable’ moment. As experiences become more important than things, people want the convenience of knowing that they have access to outdoor anytime anywhere and someone is out there to get them what they need. Plumdrop wants to be that someone.
CB: What is the ultimate goal of Plumdrop?
MB: We want everyone to love and experience the outdoors. We want our clients to try new activities in the company of other travelers or colleagues at work or with family and find the outlet easy to experience and look good in the process.
The ultimate goal is to have a more people sharing experiences in the outdoors and being more responsible for climate, nature, and animals.
CB: Explain what your company does. How does the service work?
MB: Plumdrop rents curated adventure boxes to outdoor clubs, adventure tour operators and corporate retreats. This helps their customers do more outdoor activities hassle-free and without the burden of ownership. The outdoor market is $84B and growing steadily as experiences become more important.
We are currently focusing in six activities in this large market: hiking, camping, kayaking, mountain biking, OCR, and skiing/snowboarding. Let’s take skiing for example – we send a box to your destination or home. It contains a rental section – GoPro, helmet, jacket, pants, goggles, and gloves; an essentials section for purchase – first aid kit, base layers, socks and a swag bag for free – hand warmer, ChapStick, hot chocolate packet, granola bar etc. We concierge the heavy gear at your destination.
Today’s consumers can’t afford apparel and gear for new experiences but want to look fashionable and cool while doing it. Also, this enhances the operators offering and helps them promote it well.
CB: Who are the ideal users of Plumdrop? Despite starting early, have there been any use cases that have stood out to you?
MB: We see three types of users, the newbie who is apprehensive and never wants to try something new due to the daunting list of all the things needed. The bleisure enthusiast - goes on a business trip and wants to do fun outdoor activities. Lastly, the group of travelers or corporates who look forward to outdoor team building adventures.
CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?
MB: We have a cadre of interns and two full-time people. We look to hire digital marketing experts, business development and operations folks as we grow.
CB: Has your company participated in any trade shows/meetup events in the NYC? What about events outside of the city?
MB: We had a booth at the Women's Travel Festival and did user testing of our website at meetups in the travel startup incubator - Voyager HQ and rock climbing gyms around the city. We are continually looking to be part of meetups and shows to spread the word.
We were Finalists at the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition in March and were semi-finalists at TravelTech Con in May. We continue to grow and have landed a lot of good curators who are world champions in their respective sports.
CB: I’m always interested in how a startup came up with its name. How did Plumdrop get its name?
MB: Plum is a fruit. Fruit gives you life. We want to drop life at your doorstep.
CB: If you could pick an ideal outdoor retreat for your company, what would it be?
MB: We recently went hiking and kayaking together. Would love to do a ski trip this winter. An ideal one would be a camping trip together. Some prefer glamping, don’t mind the roughing it!
Images courtesy of Plumdrop