Fly fishing pro leverages Small Changes Loan to build fishing gear prototype
Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Give a man a comfortable seat that is easy to pack into a remote part of the Gunnison Gorge so that he can fish comfortably, and that man’s day just got even better. And that’s exactly what Chris Mortimer of Gunnison River Pro, based in Delta, Colorado, is trying to do.
Mortimer is a fly fishing pro, who has been guiding fishing trips for over 25 years. After decades of guiding all over the world from Colorado to New Zealand, he found himself at the trailhead of a new adventure when he discovered a unique need that was not being met by the marketplace. And he approached Region 10 about financing this idea.
Consider what it takes to pack for a multi-day river trip: raft, food, supplies, equipment, etc. Now consider what it takes to load all of these items into remote areas where the put-ins to the river are several miles away from motorized vehicle access. In your best efforts to maximize space, you are going to need equipment that collapses easily and packs snugly. Most standard fishing seats – which allow comfort and 360 degree range of motion while fishing – are usually constructed in a bowed fashion to provide curvature that supports a fisher’s back. However, this curvature also increases the size of the item, creating wasted space in packing situations.
“I’m not Halliburton, right? I’m just some dude looking to get a seat made in Delta.”
Mortimer designed a chair that is both comfortable and easy to store. After designing and fabricating the seat concept in his own garage, he ventured out to find outfitters who would be interested in purchasing the item. “I think it is gaining a lot of interest,” Mortimer comments. And he didn’t stop with just chairs; he also fabricated specialized coolers, tables, frames, stoves, and assorted storage boxes that are compact and easy to tote. In fact, he has created an entire system that no other outdoor equipment outfitter can offer. With all of these innovations, he was able to save half the horse pack that most normal trips required. “You can throw a one boat, multi-day river trip into the back of a Subaru,” according to Mortimer.
As word around town about his unique equipment spread, Mortimer experienced a high demand for these innovative products. With offers from several commercial entities, Mortimer decided that it was time to consider prototyping his unique designs, but he didn’t know exactly what to do next. “I’m not Halliburton, right? I’m just some dude looking to get a seat made in Delta,” he jokes.
Here’s where Region 10 came into the picture. With the cost of creating a marketable prototype (which includes legal consultation and engineered certifications), Mortimer sought the help of Region 10’s Small Business Resource Center. After a few meetings and a minimal amount of paperwork, Region 10 helped Mortimer design a business plan and gain access to new capital made available through the Small Changes Loan program. Region 10 “stepped up, and gave me enough money to buy the equipment that I wasn’t able to produce before.” He described his time with Region 10 as a “partnership” that procured a new source of support.
Armed with market research and a little bit of capital, Mortimer is now prepared for the next phase of this start-up concept. He used to spend his winters doing side jobs – installing windshields, construction, etc. – but now he has made the deep dive into making this new business venture thrive. He is still booking for future guide trips, and funds from equipment rentals for Gunnison River Pro will help support this new endeavor. He is also actively researching and being consulted on patent options for his products as well. In addition, he is in search of possible investors for his products. Needless to say, Mortimer is running in multiple directions.
If you are interested in learning more about Mortimer’s services and products, visit his website, his Facebook page, or shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in learning more about Region 10’s Small Business Resource Center and its Small Changes Loan program, please visit the Region 10 website.