Cotopaxi “Gear for Good” is a Salt Lake based company that sells high quality outdoor products with each item being tied to a humanitarian cause. They became the first public benefit corporation to raise venture capital from day one back in April 2014 and launched with an incredible 24-hour adventure quest or the “Questival” which saw over 1,000 participants completing a number of different tasks for points that varied from community service to extreme adventures. Three teams walked away with a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro, Angkor Wat, and Macchu Picchu where they spend one day of the trip working with one of Cotopaxi’s nonprofit partners.
With each Cotopaxi product that is bought, a percentage of the sale goes to a humanitarian cause in one of the poorest regions of the world. For instance, when you buy a Cusco pack, this will help with education for a child in Peru. If you buy a Cotopaxi India water bottle, you will be giving clean water to a person in India. You’ll know exactly where the money will go to as it is listed on the item you buy.
The idea of Cotopaxi was born as both Founder and CEO Davis Smith and Co-Founder Stephan Jacob had lived amongst severe poverty and felt that companies should do more to help with humanitarian efforts. Mount Cotopaxi, located in Ecuador, has a personal connection for Smith as he lived around this area for quite some time. Stephan Jacob worked for a non-profit in Indonesia for a while and unfortunately the organization ran out of funds to continue providing for the poverty-stricken in the area he was located in.
With several years of entrepreneurship under their belts, they are no strangers on how to run a business. Smith and Jacob wanted to build a business and do something to help different impoverished areas. They wanted to do something that did more than make money. What they wanted to create was a force for change and a force for good.
RootsRated : What do you think sets Cotopaxi apart from all other outdoor gear companies that give proceeds to causes?
Stephan Jacob : There isn’t really a brand that focuses on humanity and people. There are a lot of proceeds going towards the environment and ways to better the earth which is really great. We want to have a direct impact on the people that live in severe poverty-stricken areas. We identify what it is they need most and help them attain it.
RR : What is it that attracted you to help get Cotopaxi going?
SJ : The people that include the designers, graphic designers, CFO, marketing, just everyone working for the company. They’re all in the top percentile of their peers and have worked with some of the best in the outdoor industry. They’re great at what they do, but they’re also humble. The team is a group of silent overachievers. We have a zero jerk rule, and we all want to do something bigger than ourselves. We’re all committed to a genuine matter.
RR : With all of the humanitarian efforts out there, how did you choose the ones that you now work with?
SJ : By a careful vetting process. Each humanitarian partner we work with we have a personal relationship with. We want to be sure that all the proceeds we have to give reach the beneficiaries. We are looking to add new partners in order to maximize impact.
RR : You had a successful launch with the Questival back in April. Do you plan on making it an annual event?
SJ : Yes we are planning on making it an annual event. We are planning one in the Bay Area for September/October and possibly one in Austin, Texas following that. Then of course, we’ll be bringing it for another round here in Utah. We’re looking to roll out a series of Questivals across the nation in 2015.
RR : What would you say are some of the strengths of the Cotopaxi team?
SJ : Some of the main strengths would be that we push for excellence. The design team is truly delivering and has created durable features and quality products. There is a genuine push to do things differently. We are direct-to-consumer, so we can offer higher-quality products without retail markup. We incorporate as much customer feedback as we possibly can.
RR : What can we expect from Cotopaxi in the near future as far as gear?
SJ : Innovation on the products. We’re extending our lifestyle and technical pack lines. On the lifestyle side we’re adding a messenger satchel and a roll-top pack that will have direct access pockets. On the tech side, we’ll be adding a ski pack for backcountry. Apparel will be added in the fall. Each item will continue to be linked to a humanitarian effort.
“We are grateful for the response we have been receiving. People are recognizing Cotopaxi and are giving great feedback,” said Jacob. “We’re excited to be building the brand and movement of “gear for good” with Cotopaxi.”
Check out Cotopaxi gear and see how you can help give to the great humanitarian causes they partner with at www.cotopaxi.com.