Texas entrepreneur launches new buying website for out of doors lovers

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Texas businessman Bill Voss has always found his zen through a lifelong passion for the great outdoors, but there’s one aspect that infuriates him: shopping.

Burned out from driving to brick-and-mortar stores, waiting in long lines and dealing with dreaded returns, the Houston resident turned his need into an invention and took off Everest.coma new shopping/lifestyle marketplace and community platform connecting active-thinking shoppers with more than 1,000 US-based merchants and retailers.

Through the use of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, the company aims to create the world’s largest marketplace for the outdoor recreation community, enabling activities such as hiking, camping, biking, climbing, winter sports, water sports, team sports, fishing, hunting, kayaking, rafting, and road and trail running.

Voss’ timing is solid: Current industry estimates put consumers spending $700 billion on outdoor recreation, with less than 20 percent of those sales occurring online. To that end, Voss plans to increase its vendors to 10,000 by 2023.

Everest members can also enjoy perks through a program called Caliber, which offers several exclusive benefits to its members, including free shipping, presales, travel benefits, big discounts on gear, and—a plus these days—fuel discounts. Voss notes that the site’s core values ​​are promoting US-made products and giving back; Everest will have non-profit and conservation partners.

CultureMap caught up with the active Voss after his Everest launch.

CultureMap: Congratulations on the start. Have you essentially created an Amazon for the outdoor crowd – but also with a sense of community?

Bill Voss: We founded Everest.com to create the first online marketplace with a sole focus on providing outdoor enthusiasts with retail goods for purchase from merchants across the country that offer locally made goods.

In our experience, people who love nature also appreciate the community spirit. At Everest, we aim to strengthen this community by enabling local businesses to increase sales, by contributing to local and national charities, and by encouraging everyone in our community to share their Everest story.

We’re taking a fairly segmented market and bringing it together into a community-centric ecosystem. We call this ecosystem Everest.

CM: You are obviously an avid outdoorsman. Is it correct to say that Everest was inspired by the frustration and anger of moving to other locations and businesses?

BV: Exactly! I’ve found myself doing just that, and it’s annoying. I would visit multiple stores, go through multiple checkouts, and wait for multiple boxes to arrive — and sometimes deal with multiple return scenarios. So I set out to fix it – for all of us.

I grew up fishing and spent hours on the water with my dad. To me, one of the best parts of any outdoor activity is the quality time spent with the people you love. I don’t think you get the same experience sitting together around a TV screen, and you certainly don’t get it spending hours at your computer trying to find the perfect beginner fishing rod for your daughter. Time is precious, and the endless toil of gear-building eats up the few available hours we have to spend together.

By consolidating thousands of outdoor brands and gear retailers and centralizing them in one marketplace, we make it easy for our users to onboard, find everything they need, and easy to check out. We’re just getting started, but we’re hoping to add more sellers and products along with more community offerings over the next two years.

Being out on the water showing my kids how to bait a hook or how to find a school of fish are the memories I hope they take with them. At Everest, it was important to me to help make these types of experiences within easy reach of everyone and the people they love.

CM: Speaking of other stores, do you plan to go head-to-head with the REIs and Sun and Skis of the world? Or Amazon?

BV: I get this question all the time and I love it. As for the first two, definitely not. We’re a marketplace, we’re here to help companies like REI and Sun and Ski who can participate as sellers and reach new customers.

The difference is that our members can collect everything they need from multiple retailers in one shopping cart with one easy checkout option. Many of the big names are already showcasing and selling products on Amazon – they can do the same with Everest. We are a community of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts who have been looking for a niche market that serves us all.

Remember what Chewy did in the pet industry – we do the same for those who love the great outdoors. Amazon must be everything for everyone. We don’t want that and we don’t want that.

CM: Do you see Everest ever opening physical stores?

BV: The beauty of Everest is that we are still a young company that has options to consider. But remember, one of Everest’s most important principles is supporting our vendors. We don’t want to get into a situation where we compete directly with them.

However, we would love to one day open a store selling Everest sweatshirts and swag in downtown Houston. It would be so fulfilling to see the outdoor community wear Everest branded clothing and put Everest stickers on their gear in the future.

The bottom line is that we sprint as hard as we can in hopes of one day waking up as a true disruptor, household name and brand forever.

CM: Have you already visited Everest?

BV: I actually have plans to visit Everest! I am arranging a trip with two brothers who have made it to the top more than anyone else and they assure me it will be an amazing trip.