Marketplace: Uncharted gives emergency survival a new look
May 1, 2018
Christian Schauf grew up thinking that everyone was prepared for emergencies like tornadoes and blizzards until one day, the weather changed his whole perspective. To him, it was a regular winter day. For the Southern California drivers, the three inches of snow on the hilly roads stopped traffic and caused Schauf an eight-hour delay in his trip to Colorado.
"I think that was the first time where I was really like, 'Why are people not prepared?'" he said. "Don't they have the right stuff?'"
He realized in that moment that it did not matter how prepared he was for emergencies, being surrounded by people who were not could be dangerous.
So he quit his job at a fitness app company and built a 72-hour survival pack. After one and a half years and an appearance on the TV show "Shark Tank," Schauf is happy that he did.
He said he had years of experience launching businesses, from starting the rock band Catchpenny with his brother, which got famous playing for the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq, to helping to design a public-address system to fit in a Black Hawk helicopter.
But he was ready for a new project. After that day on the California roads, he immediately started researching survival and emergency techniques. He quickly learned that the first 72 hours following an incident are the most critical for survival. He then began creating a kit.
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"Our perspective is, you just need the right stuff to get through until help arrives, and that's going to cover for 95 percent of the time," he said.
He reached out to friends who were mountain guides, doctors or in the U.S. Special Forces. He would ask them, "What would you give your elderly parents or kids if you were not there to help them?"
From there, he studied other emergency survival kits and discovered that one of the biggest problems with them is that people do not know how to use the gear inside.
"When people don't have the experience, they need something to guide them," he said.
He designed a waterproof pack and filled it with survival materials, then wrote instructions on how to use the gear. It was called the Seventy2.
Six months from his initial idea, he sold his townhome to purchase the materials needed for 1,000 units, because that was the minimum he could order. Then, he started a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGogo.
Most companies do crowdfunding campaigns to raise the funds before they order products, but Schauf said he wanted to ensure that he could deliver his product by the winter holidays, which were approaching.
"I stuck my neck out there," he said. "One thousand units seemed like an insurmountable amount of product to sell."
When the packages of materials started to be delivered, he realized how much 1,000 really was. He filled up his apartment 12 boxes high, then bought a storage shed.
Schauf, his business partner, Eric Janowak, and some other friends filled the packs with survival tools. The packs ended up selling out. Then, he sold another 1,000 units, all in two months.
"It was a pretty wild ride," he said. "That is a lot of commitment, to put a bunch of money in and work on it every day and turn down other opportunities because you believe in something. That can be scary sometimes."
He brought the business, which he named Uncharted, to the TV show "Shark Tank," in which new businesses pitch to famous investors in the hopes that one of them will invest. He was offered a deal from Robert Herjavec. After that, sales only continued to climb.
With the business going, he moved it to Park City last year so he could ski and mountain bike.
Schauf said that he and his team are working on creating new products, all designed to help people in emergency situations. He enjoys the work, but also feels like he is making a positive change in people's lives.
"Our goal is to create products to make the world a safer place," he said. "I think the more prepared you are, the safer the world is."
The items are sold online and at the Silver Star Café, but they will be available for purchase at Stoked Roasters Park City for a limited time the first week of May.
Uncharted Supply Company, Inc.
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