Have you ever wished you could get in on building an outdoor brand from the ground up? Starting on May 16, under the new Title III of JOBS Act, everyday Americans (not just accredited investors and venture capitalists) can legally invest in start up businesses of all kinds through a crowdsourcing investment platform called Wefunder. SlingFin, a five-year-old tent manufacturer, started in Berkeley, CA, by Outdoor Industry veterans, will be using Wefunder to raise funds for their next growth phase.
Wefunder, also a startup, recognized that the roadblock to innovation and progress in many industries was that employees and customers of average wealth did not qualify as accredited investors and therefore could not invest in and support the startups in which they truly believed. The Wefunder team worked with Congress to pass Title III of the JOBS Act, which was signed in 2012 and will go into effect on May 16, 2016. This new law will allow start up companies to “crowdfund” up to $1 million.
Why a Wefunder/SlingFin Partnership?
The outdoor industry is unique. The first outdoor tinkerers, who designed and built the gear they needed to successfully explore wild places, were the pioneers who grew the original outdoor brands from the bottom up. Then and now, many small companies start with a great idea or product, but they quickly run out of funds, sell off their small brands, or partner with venture capitalists, who are more focused on the bottom-line than building the best gear.
The team behind SlingFin has experienced outdoor industry sell-outs several times over the years. Coming from Sierra Designs, The North Face and Mountain Hardwear, they know gear and they know how to build successful brands. But like most of us, their pockets aren’t deep and they aren’t backed by a big parent-brand. But what if friends, family and fellow outdoor colleagues could invest in their creative potential? What if anyone could invest in a small company like Slingfin to spur on innovation? What if is now a reality thanks to Wefunder.
What is Wefunder?
Wefunder is an investment platform that is democratizing investing so small companies can raise money from anyone – their best fans and customers – directly online. It’s like Kickstarter, but instead of receiving a t-shirt, non-accredited investors (those whose net-worth is less that $1M) can actually own equity in a start-up for as little as $100.
To date, Wefunder has raised $16M for startups from ‘rich’ or accredited investors, but May 16, 2016 marks the first day in over 80 years that it will be legal for everyone – not just the rich or banks – to invest in local, American businesses.
Wefunder’s bigger goals are to turbo-charge GDP growth, decrease disparity of wealth and bring back entrepreneurship in America. The percentage of people under-30 owning a private company has fallen from 10.6% in 1989 to 3.6% in 2014. Wefunder has a goal to bring it back to 1989 levels within 5 years, and by democratizing investing, everyone will have access to high-growth startups, not just the wealthy and well-connected. Check out Wefunder’s Video, to learn more about why they are so enthusiastic about the new law.
To celebrate the new Title III law, Wefunder will feature 20 of the coolest small companies in the country, one of which is SlingFin. These 20 companies are looking to raise up to $1M each from loyal fans and everyday Americans, and we need your help to spread the word to you readers, friends, family and colleagues.
What is SlingFin?
Started in 2010, SlingFin is an outdoor equipment company made of industry veterans who have a passion for making only the highest quality gear based on a lifetime of design, manufacturing and user experience. SlingFin makes the strongest tents for the weight in the world – hands down. Customers are backpackers, mountaineers, adventurers, explorers, guides and outfitters who are serious about their adventures and their gear. Too often quality suffers when the bottom-line takes over and cost cutting cannibalizes brand quality. At SlingFin, the bottom-line is quality. The team takes pride in what they do and they feel great satisfaction making quality gear that adventurers use to accomplish their goals.
More about the JOBS Act:
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act or JOBS Act, is a law intended to encourage funding of American small businesses by easing various securities regulations. It passed with bipartisan support, and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 5, 2012. The term “The JOBS Act” is also sometimes used informally to refer to just Titles II and III of the legislation, which have the greatest impact on the equity crowdfunding and startup community. Title II went into effect on September 23, 2013. On October 30, 2015, the SEC adopted final rules allowing Title III equity crowdfunding. The final rules and forms are effective May 16, 2016.
What’s Next for SlingFin?
After five years of research & development and proving market fit, now is the time to accelerate growth for SlingFin and extend the brand’s lead in the specialty tent market. Funds raised in the Wefunder campaign will be used to boost factory order sizes and take advantage of volume pricing which will instantaneously increase margin from 50% to nearly 60%. This inventory increase will allow the brand to expand their dealer network and solve the repeated challenge of running out of inventory and losing out on sales. The brand additionally plans to grow marketing efforts beyond word-of-mouth which has propelled the brand to this point. There is new and patented hard shell backpack design in the works and SlingFin has plans to enter the apparel and sleeping bag categories as well.
The SlingFin Team:
The SlingFin team is experienced, design driven, and obsessed with the gear, the outdoors and the environment. The overall goal is to improve and do better and every detail counts!
Martin Zemitis is the CEO and creative force behind SlingFin. He has spent over 30 years designing tents, including the only tent ever used to spend the night atop Mt. Everest where 100 mph+ winds are the norm. His singular focus is to make gear that works by solving design problems and developing solutions and technology to accommodate his designs. A lifetime of experimentation and design experience at The North Face, Sierra Designs and Mountain Hardwear has resulted in the creation of SlingFin tents, the best shelters in the industry. And Martin’s passion is sewn into every stitch.
Richard Ying is the Director of Operations and a mechanical engineer from UCLA. His background is failure analysis, so naturally, he went from a world of figuring out why things fail, to helping design and produce products that won’t. Rich is a terminator and is a genius at getting it done and done right.
For the past thirty-some years, Al Tabor has worked behind the scenes to ensure the steady growth of several successful outdoor brands including SlingFin. He specializes in seeing the big picture and creating strategic information and planning systems to ensure accurate orders, on-time production and successful sales of outdoor gear.
Robert Link is an expert gear user. He is a professional mountain guide and owner of Mountain-Link. His resume reads like a Who’s Who of mountaineers! His genius is that he knows how to give feedback to designers and throw down design challenges. A registered gear abuser who is more at home on the mountain than in his own home, Robert is an invaluable member of the team.