You want to get outside more often and you are sick of your excuses. It’s too cold; you have more important things to do; those outdoors clothing are just not you. While this company may not be able to change the weather outside, Outdoor Voices is bringing outdoor clothing back in-style. With their light-hearted attitude, they wish to bring more choices to the Activewear world and keep you stylish while you are fighting off your laziness.
Coming off of their recent funding round, Tyler Haney, CEO, tells AlleyWatch about their mission of updating Activewear.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise? Was it seed, Series A, B, etc?
We raised a $7 million Series A funding round with participation from new and existing investors. The round was led by General Catalyst, joined by Forerunner Ventures, Collaborative Fund, and 14W.
Tell us about your product or service.
Outdoor Voices is a lifestyle brand that makes technical apparel for recreation. Founded in 2013 on the belief that fitness doesn’t have to be defined by performance, we celebrate approaching activity with moderation, humor, and delight. We opened our first retail location a year ago in Austin, TX—a city that revolves around recreation and will open a standalone pop-up shop in New York City starting in November. Built around the simple tenet that doing things is better than not doing things, Outdoor Voices is designed for lives spent on paths, fields, streets, and everything in between.
What inspired you to start the company?
I grew up in Boulder, CO, where casual activity is an inherent part of everyday life. I was always an athlete, and meant to run track in college, but never resonated with the neon / black / mesh apparel on the market and ubiquitous credo of harder, better, faster, stronger. I ended up in New York City instead and studied at the Parsons School of Design, where I became obsessed with researching technical fabrics. Shortly after graduation, I started Outdoor Voices and set out to create a new generation of Activewear.
How is it different?
Our goal is to take something that sometimes feels unapproachable and make it more inclusive, non-prescriptive and playful. There’s a lot that we admire about the big brands in the space, but a lot we’re intentionally trying to do differently. We champion approaching activity with intentional lightheartedness, and want to empower our customers to decide how to use the product.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We make technical apparel for recreation, and all of our pieces are made to sweat in – it’s Activewear at its core. We think our customer is different in how they approach activity with a recreational mindset, whether that activity is jogging, the gym, or a weekend hike with some friends. We believe the opportunity to own that space is substantial.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
General Catalyst, who led this Series A round, participated in our seed round as well, as did Collaborative Fund and 14W. From the time we closed our seed round, our investors have been part of a number of big growth moments for the brand, so it’s been fun to have them along for the journey, and everyone is looking forward to this next phase.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We’re opening a temporary retail shop in New York City starting in November, which will be our first standalone location in the city. We have a store in Austin, and it’s such an amazing way to engage with the community in an ongoing way, and we’re constantly learning from the feedback our customers give. We’ve always wanted to have as many touch points as we can with customers.
The dream for this NYC pop-up was to have a physical space where we can meet people who may be there to shop, but who are also just really excited about Outdoor Voices and what we’re doing in the Activewear space.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
A good friend and mentor told me once to never waste a crisis. Constraints drive incredible results. Look at a lack of funding as an opportunity to figure out what the real drivers of results are.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never received?
Learn how to say “no.” No one has the right answer, only you. The earlier the stage, the more people will think they can apply their ideas to your business. Stay true to your vision.
Where is your favorite place to enjoy the fall weather in the area?
I love jogging on the West Side Highway, and I’ve been recently trying to play a lot more tennis, so I’ve been spending time at the courts in McCarren Park as well. It’s nice to be around trees this time of year.