Cotopaxi Raises $6.5M Series A Round…Let the Questivals Begin!

We really wanted to build the brand in a unique way, in a way that hadn’t been done before.

Cotopaxi, the outdoor brand dedicated to changing the world, has closed a $6.5 million Series A funding round led by Greycroft Partners, with additional participation from NEA, Forerunner Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Kickstart Seed Fund and angel investors Jeff Kearl, Josh James, Jeremy Andrus, and Bryan Johnson.

“Greycroft is unique in that, last year, they were the second-most active VC at the Series A level…they understand commerce intimately, better than almost any VC I’ve heard of or know of in the US,” CEO Davis Smith said.

Less than one year ago, Cotopaxi was nothing more than a baby llama wandering the world, searching for sustenance. With the recent funding, adulthood is now upon them.

What is unique about Cotopaxi is not only their mission — a blend of capitalism and humanitarianism — but how they value experience as much as product. The creation and expansion of the Questival is proof of that.

“We really wanted to build the brand in a unique way, in a way that hadn’t been done before,” Smith said. “When you look at all the other outdoor brands, they kind of build their brand around product and features of product. We wanted to build a brand around not just product, but around experiences. The core values of our brand are adventure, discovery, and people. The Questival has been a perfect way to help people not only be exposed to the brand, but live it for 24 hours.”

As the name entails, Questivals bring together the checkpoints of a quest with the fun of a festival. Teams of up to six people get together, sign up, complete outdoor and service-oriented challenges, and receive a “lifetime of memories over 24 unforgettable hours.” Last year, Cotopaxi held Questivals in Salt Lake, San Francisco, and Las Vegas to rave reviews.

This year, Smith and Cotopaxi plan on using the new funds to ramp things up in a big way.

“With this A round it will allow us to scale things up,” Smith said. “We’re going to be doing 20 Questivals over the next year across the country and we’re really excited about it.”

One of those Questivals is quickly approaching. To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Cotopaxi is holding a Questival on April 10–11 in Utah, kicking off the festivities at Thanksgiving Point with food, gear, and most assuredly, llamas. Sign-ups are open for anybody looking to spend this weekend on a journey of humanitarian memory-making.

Even while expanding, Cotopaxi remains dedicated to the core values they established as a benefit corporation. Making money is great, but helping the world become a better place is even better.

“Benefit corporations are a brand-new type of entity,” Smith said. “It’s a for-profit entity, so there’s no tax advantages, but the amazing thing about benefit corporations is that, in your articles of incorporation, you actually state your commitment to people on the planet. So your responsibilities go beyond simply maximizing shareholder value, you actually have to fulfill this mission of doing good in the world…I can actually give away money now to these causes, and investors know about that and have agreed to that from the very beginning because they knew we were a benefit corporation.”

In the high-stakes world of venture capitalism, it’s easy to forget that even in a community viewed by outsiders as ruthless, there still exists people who want to see the world become a better place. Ultimately, that’s what makes Cotopaxi’s Series A round such a revelation.

“I view this as a turning point in capitalism,” Smith said. “VCs are typically seen as heartless and bloodthirsty, but what we’ve shown is that VCs are actually willing to invest in a business that is committed to doing social good, kind of looking beyond the bottom line.”

Published 4/7/2015

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