Editor’s Note: As part of our initiative to highlight brands relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re resurfacing older stories, like this one. Uncharted Supply Co. has backorders on many of its emergency preparedness products and is offering a 15 percent discount in light of that extra wait time.
Uncharted Supply Co. is on a mission to help you prepare for everything from the Zombie apocalypse to the next earthquake. That’s a grand idea, and surprisingly, it came from an occurrence most of us deal with daily — sitting in traffic.
After missing meetings and adding hours to his drives getting out of California, Christian Schauf, the Uncharted Supply Co. founder, realized that even if he was prepared for some sort of catastrophic disaster, it seemed like no one else was. “Ninety-five percent of all survival situations are solved in 72 hours. But if you don’t have the right stuff, that 72 hours can be deadly,” Schauf says. It’s the one statistic that has stuck with him after all these years. “People don’t need a bunker with $10,000 of supplies, they don’t need five years of food, just 72 hours to cover everything.”
With that in mind, Schauf set about to figure out what exactly it is that everyone would need in an emergency situation to survive — and nothing more.
Luckily, Schauf had enough unique life experiences to help him put together that list of necessities. He played in a band that took him abroad to Iraq 39 times. While there, “surface air missiles, sniper fire and car bombs were all just regular life,” Schauf recounts. For trips like these, Schauf packed only what he needed to get in, play a show and get out.
“There’s only so much gear you can take on an airplane. You leave in the morning, pack your backpack and fly there, and plan to come home that night — but there might be a sandstorm or a fire and you might get stuck there for two days. These places do not have extra supplies, so you’re on your own,” Schauf says. After playing over 150 shows in Iraq, Schauf enlisted friends he made there to help in putting together his disaster survival kits. “I asked the experts, ‘What would you give your elderly parents to help them?'”
From there, Schauf searched for the most durable and reliable materials and products to fill the bag — which turned out to be extremely difficult. “I was disappointed with what was available. A lot was poorly executed and low quality,” he says. He describes the survival kit market’s two extremes: “You may spend $80 to check a box, but deep down know it’s not going to save your life. Or it’s a couple of thousand dollars for military-grade [items], and you don’t know what half of the gear is,” Schauf says. He made it his goal to fill that void, and to help educate people about what they would really need if a disaster were to strike.
Schauf’s final product has over thirty-five pieces — the majority of which he and his team had to assemble themselves. “We put different batteries in the flashlight, and matches in the case — everything was super high touch,” Schauf says.
After crafting and curating the go-bag, Schauf decided to try an Indiegogo campaign to launch it. It was right before the holidays in 2016, and Schauf took a gamble. “I ordered 1,000 units before even turning the Indiegogo on. I sold my townhome and bought $3,000,000 of inventory before I even told anyone what I was doing.”
With marketing in his blood from his days at Crispin Ciders (which he later sold to MillerCoors) and then at Pear Sports, the name came together naturally. “I wanted a word that represented being in an unknown place, but not being fearful.” The St. Bernard logo represents what the brand was to Schauf when he first started. “St. Bernards used to go out and find people — the Bernard Pass — the monks sent them out and they would find weary travelers and lead them back to the lodge. I love the idea of a big dog that sits by the fire, you send it out, and it’ll do its job until death.” With a plan, a logo and a product, Schauf dubbed his survival kit the Seventy2.
“I thought if I have to drive around and sell them out of the back of my truck for a year, I will. But in two weeks they were gone.”
The Seventy2 campaign raised $491,406 in total, 1,649 percent of its funding goal. “We were the highest-funded survival product of all time, which was nice,” Schauf says. And then he realized it meant he (Schauf was the sole member of the Uncharted team at that point) had to build 1,400 more orders. “It got real very fast for one guy,” he quips.
To help get those orders filled, Schauf brought in a few friends, who are still involved in the business today. Eric Janowak, Mike Escamilla, and Josh Anderson are now a part of the Uncharted Supply Company and between the four of them, they had a web developer, product designer, someone to look over contracts, and Schauf (who took the lead on the marketing side.
All in, it’s been roughly three years since the inception of the product, yet the brand has seen tremendous growth. Even the FBI, CIA, Nike, and Paypal have purchased the Seventy2. The brand sells 5- and 10-pack bundles to help outfit entire companies. With that growth, Schauf’s been able to take time to develop other gear that can help you survive disaster — everything from a hideaway jacket to a car kit. “We’re really looking at how you fill every moment of the day, because you never know what’s going to happen,” Schauf says. “The more prepared you are, the safer the world is.”
That mentality has led to the launch of a variety of related survival products, including a two-person survival bag called The Seventy2 Pro ($500), and the much-anticipated Rapid Raft ($400), which weighs less than three pounds, inflates in seconds and supports up to 400 pounds.
“Our brand is the buddy that will give you shit, but is also experienced and someone you trust.”
Schauf’s not trying to capitalize on the doom and gloom of what the news can seem like these days, but he is real about the possibility of disaster. “I’m not a doomsday guy. I’m a guy that wakes up and the sun is shining, and I’m ready to explore. I might prep for a day that never happens, but people skin their arm, or fail to remember sunscreen on a hike, or forget water millions of times a day, and this kit will plug all of those holes. It’s a go-to bag.”
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