With a background in running track and camping, Justine Barone thought she might like snowshoeing - but she wasn’t sure. New gear cost up to $200 and renting snow shoes and poles for $30 a day …
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With a background in running track and camping, Justine Barone thought she might like snowshoeing - but she wasn’t sure.
New gear cost up to $200 and renting snow shoes and poles for $30 a day seemed unreasonable.
“I just wanted a used option,” she said. “So, I went to a consignment shop and the shop owners told me those are usually gone in 24 hours.”
With her other background — in marketing, promotion and startups — she recognized an opportunity.
Barone is one of the founders of Gearo, a Colorado-based startup that wants to become the outdoor gear equivalent of Open Table for restaurants: The service lets people list their outdoor gear and make it available to consumers to purchase or rent.
Rather than searching the Internet and trying to find what they need one at a time, Gearo lets consumers put in search filters to compare multiple products side-by-side, and then select the product of choice.
At the same time, Gearo helps small shop owners by providing a platform to market their brands. Her website, www.gearoe.com, debuted in April 2017.
“Originally, we built the website to buy and sell gear, but then we added the rental option,” she said. “We started partnering with others simply by word-of-mouth and a lot of hustle. As we got more into it, it became so much more based on the needs our users were sharing. They were telling us `I need stuff affordable, accessible, convenient, and I don’t want to do a lot of research.’”
Barone first began soliciting interest by going to her neighbors and then later approached local outdoor gear companies to see if they would be interested in partnering with them.
What began as a website to share gear grew quickly when those local businesses started asking if they could use their platform to feature top sales products and reserve rentals online as a booking platform.
On the flip side, the booking platform is automated to make reservations all day for the gear you want any time you want it.
Barone said she grew up running and participated in track and field in school and that her favorite activities are to sleep under the stars while camping and trail running. A Canadian transplant to Colorado by way of New York, she said she’s no stranger to doing outdoorsy things, she has been backpacking since middle school.
She met her husband, and Gearo co-founder Andrew in college in North Carolina and when they discovered they were always trying to get away to snowboard and run, they headed for Colorado.
Barone had her first taste for a startup when driving around the country selling gear and promotions for USA Track and Field.
Next, she became the seventh employee at a $17 million subscription-based floral company that wound up with 200 employees. Later on, she ran the marketing efforts for a commercial real estate firm and worked for a serial entrepreneur and she realized her love for the whole startup lifecycle was meant to be.
She said the company is passionate about bringing the outdoors to the community and helping business owners and consumers come together to create a mutually beneficial meeting place to exchange gear.
“We are also aspiring to be a diverse company, not just in skin color, but equal women to men and diverse personalities. Everyone brings something different to the table. It’s so important because everyone works differently and everyone thrives off of different things or helping to smooth things out. I’ve been very adaptable. I’ve had friends from all over the spectrum. Everyone brings something to the table and we’re going to come up with so much creative solutions.”
Barone said her next steps will be to introduce RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology. It will enhance the product selection process so you can take your phone to an outdoor retailer, scan the gear, and automatically buy, sell or rent it so that it is pre-packaged and waiting for you at checkout.
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