By Gregory Daurer | Feb 15, 2021
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Aerogel-insulated pouches and cases
The birth of Rosenberg's business began with dead batteries.
Rosenberg and his wife, nature photographer Deirdre Denali, were camping out in Rocky Mountain National Park on New Year's Day of 2018. Temperatures were freezing, and three feet of snow sat just off the trail. "It was basically the first morning at camp that we discovered none of her batteries were working," recalls Rosenberg. The extreme cold had drained the batteries, rendering them useless -- a cruel fate for a photographer, as well as a disappointing way to start the new year. "She didn't get any photos our whole trip," Rosenberg says.
What Rosenberg did eventually come away with, though, was the idea for a new product. He began working on the prototype of a protective pouch, incorporating aerogel -- a material with insulating properties -- as the liner. As someone who'd worked retail in the outdoor industry, and who'd written product reviews for Backpackers.com (the site has described him as a "gear-nut"), Rosenberg knew no one else was marketing anything like it. By July 2019, he had his product design listed on Kickstarter, offering up 500 of the pouches -- using pre-orders to help him fund the initial production run.
After making further innovations, Rosenberg will be releasing two products (one updated, one new) in spring 2021.
There's his pouch, measuring 7" x 4" x 4" -- ideal for protecting batteries or a bottle of water from the elements, as well as medicine (think, insulin), a few power bars, smaller fuel canisters, a headlamp, or a GPS device. Rosenberg says it's good for an eight- to 10-hour outing, and supplemental heat can be added by blowing warm breath into the pouch, before resealing it. Furthermore, the pouch is waterproof -- capable of being submerged underwater up to about seven feet. Rosenberg is also offering a case designed to hold a cell phone -- so that communications, and hence safety, can be maintained, while recreating in super-cold weather.
No more drained batteries. Or inedible frozen food. Or melted chocolate in trail mix, since the insulation protects items from extreme heat as well. Rosenberg's target customer is anyone who spends "significant time" in the outdoors -- from advanced camping enthusiasts to search-and-rescue teams.
"We'll make it here in the USA with premium materials," Rosenberg says of his product line. He is still finalizing his manufacturing partner, but the design calls for radio-frequency welding "to seamlessly bond two surfaces together." For Rosenberg's pouches, that means "two layers of [TPU] fabric," he says. "Sandwiched on the inside of that is the aerogel insulation."
The waterproof and airtight zipper mechanism for each pouch is sourced from Boulder-based Nite Ize, and the phone holders incorporate closures made with rare earth magnets from Gooper Hermetic in Germany.
In 2021, Rosenberg plans to produce 1,000 pouches and 3,000 cell phone cases, and he estimates revenue to be around $250,000. In terms of distribution, he says, "We expect to be 80 percent direct-to-consumer and then 20 percent will be strategic partners. We will be available in some retailers, but we're really looking to align with the right partners to get the right people to see our products." On the horizon, he envisions an insulated casing for cameras -- which will maintain a battery's charge while the camera is in use, as well as protect the device overall from freezing temperatures.
Although he's adept at outdoor recreating, Rosenberg says, "Business is not my background, and it's been a steep learning-curve to learn everything that I've had to." He's been assisted by the Southwest Colorado Program for Entrepreneurs (SCAPE) program, which has provided him knowledge about creating a business model, running a company, and pitching his product to potential customers, as well as investors. He also credits Manufacturer's Edge with networking help. (Full disclosure: Manufacturer's Edge is a CompanyWeek sponsor.)
While growing up in Westchester County, New York, Rosenberg had limited experience with camping outdoors. His life took a turn after moving as an adult to Minnesota. He started cycling more, and "started to get outside and explore." He began acquiring outdoor equipment, spending "300 nights camping in a tent, over a couple of years." Rosenberg wants others to have outdoor experiences, as well, and his company is offering a $3,000 "immersive scholarship" this year to one lucky woman, so she can enjoy her own "adventure of a lifetime" out in nature.
Naturally, that scholarship winner will have products from Cold Case Gear to take along when traversing any icy (or hot) climes. "We reduce the pain points of recreating outdoors in extreme temperatures," says Rosenberg.
Challenges: Consumer education. "Conveying to people what our product does, in as few words and as little time as possible," says Rosenberg.
Opportunities: "To capitalize on the lack of competition in the market right now," says Rosenberg, while also expanding brand awareness as swiftly as possible.
Needs: "Strategic partners that we can align with," says Rosenberg. Those include polar explorer Eric Larsen, who the company will be providing with sponsorship funding, as well other companies in the outdoor space that Cold Case Gear can market with, jointly.