‘Right time’ to grow

Kea Outdoors founder Matt Butler said the timing was right for him to sell shares in the company....
Kea Outdoors founder Matt Butler said the timing was right for him to sell shares in the company. PHOTO: REGAN HARRIS
The founder of a Wānaka-based outdoor gear brand with international reach says it is "just the right time" to grow by offering keen investors a chance to get on board.

Matt Butler, who pivoted into the outdoor gear industry with Kea Outdoors shortly after his fly fishing guiding business was hit by Covid-19, said he always envisioned a three-year timeframe where he would see how far he could take the business on his own.

"I’ve gone as far as I can by myself.

"It’s just the right time. It’s the right time to go all or nothing."

The company’s campaign on equity crowdfunding platform PledgeMe raised more than $160,000 in its first week, and Mr Butler said he was confident they would surpass their minimum goal of $250,000 before the campaign closes at the end of the month.

Funds raised via the campaign would enable Kea Outdoors to "build out the product development pipeline and work on the retail distribution of New Zealand and Australia", he said.

The company was also looking to take on two Wānaka-based staff members — one to facilitate product development and another to focus on content creation for marketing the brand.

Mr Butler said he had taken a "methodical" approach to building the company’s product range, which to date had shipped 18,000 products in more than 50 countries since 2021.

He said the outdoor gear industry was populated with large, older brands that rarely innovated,  and was therefore ripe with opportunity for a company such as his to offer something new.

"There’s a lot of opportunity, you’ve just got to be careful not to do too much too soon. You’ve got to focus on the categories that make sense to the customer rather than going too wide.’’

The company has established distribution warehouses in Auckland, Melbourne, Salt Lake City and Shenzen, and currently supplies stock to 10 retail stores across New Zealand and four in Brisbane.

"I’ve built that foundation now. The business has got a very solid brand foundation, a really solid product ethos and distribution as well."

Mr Butler said consumer feedback had been crucial to the company’s success as it grew over several Kickstarter campaigns, and the inclusion of shareholders via the PledgeMe campaign meant such feedback was "always going to be a massive part of the brand’’.

"Being small, being able to just iterate all the time and change, make things better.

"Every time we do a rerun of stuff we can improve things. It’s been good."