What’s in a Pitchfest Entrepreneur? Meet the Finalists
— Gearo —
Behind every great idea is an inspired leader and a story—one that speaks of unique experiences, backgrounds, and paths. As Pitchfest 2018 nears, we’re diving in with our finalists to learn what drives them and what has shaped each of their journeys. This week we spoke with Justine Barone, co-founder of Gearo, to learn about her mission to reconstruct the gear rental industry.
What was the inspiration for starting your company, and how has it evolved?
Ultimately, Gearo was born out of the idea to make outdoor rental gear more accessible and sustainable. We started with a peer-to-peer aspect and partnered with some local shops to populate the database. We had many vendors ask us to use the platform solely to manage their operations and quickly realized this was the opportunity we wanted to focus on—so we shifted from a peer-to-peer focus to a focus on the mom-and-pop outdoor gear shops, empowering them to compete with the larger brands and equipping them with the operations and marketing they wouldn’t normally be able to afford.
What is the mission and vision of your company? What does the future trajectory look like?
We are on a mission to consolidate all outdoor gear into one view for comparable rentals and purchases. Gearo helps outdoor gear shops grow and run their businesses with technology by empowering consumers to automate gear rentals and purchases for their next adventure.
We want to be the future of gear rentals. If anyone needs anything: skis, a paddleboard, a bike—they go to OutdoorGearo.com and find what they need then automatically book it.
Why did you apply for Pitchfest, and what are you hoping to get out of your experience?
Camber Outdoors Pitchfest provides visibility and resources to innovative businesses in the outdoors, and that is exactly where we want to be. Aside from the connections, there is so much learning that can be taken away from the mentorship.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned, thus far, in founding your company?
I’ve learned so many lessons, but one of my favorites is to be adaptable. Change is good, and adapting to that change is critical.
Support is everything. We live in a world where there are a lot of people who just want to help. At first, I was confused as to why people would want to talk with me about my business, and connect me with people, for nothing in exchange. I felt like I owed them something in return. I’ve realized it’s not about owing one person, but generally giving back to future startup generations, or anyone I can, and it all balances out.
I’ve definitely learned how crucial focus is and how you can make a much larger impact focusing on a niche aspect instead of many.
What did you not see coming, and how did you respond?
We had a six-month setback with our new platform launch. Unfortunately, the code that was created was not where it needed to be, and we had to start from scratch after six months of development. We went immediately to the drawing board and were able to come up with an even better version in less than half the time. I think it’s important to challenge yourself and remember to always look outside of the box. Sometimes there are fantastic ways to hack your way to a solution.
What’s your superpower? My emotional intelligence
Outdoor adventure of choice for daily release? Winter: Snowboard; Summer: Camping
What book would you recommend? I’m a fantasy nerd and I love the Mistborn series
Your number one outdoor hack? Using my hydration reservoir to spray in my Australian Shepherds’ mouths when they are thirsty (so much better than carrying a bowl around!)
One word that you think of when we say outdoors? Serenity
Pitchfest 2018 will commence on July 22 in Denver, CO at the Silverton Ballroom, Embassy Suites. Register here.
Justine Barone is the Co-founder and CEO of Gearo. She drives the company’s vision, strategy and growth. Justine has a strong passion for start-up environments, having previous experience working for three fast-paced start-ups. She ran as a Division 1, scholarship athlete for the university’s cross-country and track program. Justine currently resides in Denver and loves to do anything with an element of adventure and the outdoors.