Uncharted Supply Co.

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Emergencies Can Happen at Any Time. Here's How to Be Prepared. A Q+A with Christian Schauf, co-founder of emergency preparedness brand Uncharted Supply Company.

Ryan Taylor

In business, even the best ideas can fail if a founder doesn't prepare for the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. The same is true for our personal lives. A seemingly benign trip hiking or exploring outdoors, for instance, can turn deadly if you don't prepare for the environment and the sometimes unexpected scenarios that can take place.

One person that knows this well is Christian Schauf, 38, founder of emergency preparedness brand Uncharted Supply Company. Uncharted's flagship product is the Seventy2, a $350 backpack that contains 35 tools and instructions to survive in a hurricane, earthquake, or any emergency.

Uncharted isn't targeting the doomsday prepper crowd. Instead, their ideal customers include avid outdoors people as well as anyone who wants a practical solution for life's unexpected situations. The name "Seventy2" refers to the 72-hour window most people have to survive those disasters, Schauf says.

Harnessing what he's learned from previous business endeavors—including a company that provides entertainment to military bases, primarily in the Middle East—he started Uncharted in November 2016. The company had a very successful crowdfunding campaign in January 2017 and even appeared on Shark Tank later the same year.

Here, Schauf shares his best insights on why everyone needs to prepare for the worst—whether while climbing a mountain or navigating the uncertain path of entrepreneurship.

Why should everyone be prepared for the worst?
I've spent most of my life in environments that required me to plan ahead. Whether it was being outside all day on a farm, or loading a Blackhawk in Iraq, unsure of when you'd return to base, it was never about assuming the worst was going to happen, but more about being self-sufficient and responsible.

In an emergency, if you can take care of yourself, you can likely also help someone else, and in that moment, you're becoming part of the solution. My experience is that, most times, a few simple tools or steps can change a potentially deadly situation into nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

I'm not encouraging people to invest in building bunkers, I'm encouraging them to have a few pieces that can dramatically change an unexpected emergency for the better.

Why did you start Uncharted?
Schauf: Traveling to Iraq nearly 40 times, where we were literally going into war zones on a daily basis to try and brighten our troops days, it felt like we were making a difference with our work on a daily basis. But coming back to a comfortable desk job at a big company simply never felt fulfilling for me after those experiences. I wanted to find a way to make the world a better place, build a cool brand, and do it in a space I was passionate about. After finding myself in the middle of a few extremely minor California weather events that literally stopped traffic for hours, I realized there was an opportunity.

Uncharted's flagship product is an emergency backpack called the Seventy2.
Image credit: Ryan Taylor

How do you describe the Seventy2?
The Seventy2 is the world's best survival system. We like to think of it as your "go to bag" and not just a "go bag." The Seventy2 was designed by experts to guide even the most novice person through an emergency by providing quality products, simple instructions, and clear organization.

While the Seventy2 is a fully-ready earthquake or hurricane go to bag, it's also an extremely useful tool day-to-day. Whether fixing a cut, purifying water, applying sunscreen, or simply using the included beanie, the Seventy2 helps anyone navigate day-to-day life safely.

How did you know you had something special with the Seventy2?
Nothing like this had ever been put together before—there were really no great brands in the personal preparedness space. And it was in a market space that we would have to define if we were going to be successful.

I think it was a week after we launched that I was out for a long road bike ride through Malibu, Calif., and our product went viral. Each time I'd check my phone, there were dozens more sales and at the end of my 80-mile ride, we'd sold about $60,000 worth of product to 30 countries in a 24-hour window. That was a great, validating day.

Why is it important for business owners to break away from the daily grind and seek adventure/outdoors?
People always ask me if I meditate. I don't in the conventional sense but getting away from a screen and getting on a trail and back in touch with your body is one of the most important things I do on a daily basis.

I start almost every morning with a hard run or hike. It allows me to wake up my brain and body, plan my day, think through situations that had presented themselves overnight. By the time I get to my desk, I have a plan or solution for most problems and can't wait to dive in.

After work, I typically head to the gym where I listen to podcasts while weight training. It feeds me new ideas and perspectives, provides some passive entertainment, and burns off any pent-up energy. By the time I get home and my head hits the pillow, I'm out, and a good night's sleep helps me recharge for the next day.

Uncharted Supply Co. founder Christian Schauf.
Image credit: @theflashtruck

What's your most important suggestion for protecting you/your company from the uncertainties associated with entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is always risky, so I always try to mitigate risk. I look at data, talk to experts, research the marketplace, and then finally ask my gut. I like to get to the "what's the worst that can happen," and then place my bets and work as hard as I can to make sure they are good ones.

When it comes to Uncharted, I met with tons of experts and made sure this product didn't have any holes. I wanted to unapologetically stand behind what we were doing. Once I had a finished piece, I took it to people I trusted to get their feedback. Most people were extremely positive, but others told me it simply wouldn't sell. I took the feedback, but ultimately decided to go against some of it, and ordered hundreds of thousands of dollars in product.

I've always found I do my best when there is no other way out than to succeed. You won't be successful giving something half of your attention. You have to fight for it every day like your life depends on it.

You can be prepared for virtually any disaster scenario with just one simple purchase from Uncharted Supply Company.

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