Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Products: Fishing lures
The startup manufacturer has hooked a loyal customer base with the company's biodegradable fishing lures.
For the last two years, Bio Bait has been reeling in customers online and at small outdoor shops with its eco-friendly fishing lures, and now it's angling to get its products on the shelves of big-box retailers.
Bio Bait is a patented, water-soluble and safer alternative to other fishing lures that are made from plastic that takes more than 200 years to degrade. Bio Bait's lures break down in as little as two years.
Most plastic lures expand to four or five times their original size in a fish's belly, which makes them feel full, so they don't eat the food they need and end up starving to death. Because Bio Bait's lures break down in their bellies, they are less harmful to the fish.
Bio Bait is infused with fish oil during production so the scent lasts as long as the bait. It never dries up and smells stronger and stronger as it sits in the water.
"Our closest competitor has to leave lures in a solution," Vice President Ryan Weaver says. "Tournament anglers love our stuff because they're able to pre-rig and spend more time in the water as opposed to tying knots."
The patent originated with Russell Hanson of Livingston, Alabama. A carpenter by trade, Hanson came up with the concept after catching fish at a catch-and-release bass lake that shrunk when he landed them. The owner told him that the bass were eating plastic worms and starving to death because they think they're full and quit eating. That's when Hanson set out to create Bio Bait.
After reading a story about Hanson in a small-town college newspaper, Bio Bait President Erik Peiker and friends Tyler and Jared Roley ended up striking a deal to become the sole licensee for the product. The company, which has manufacturing facilities in both Alabama and Littleton where Hanson lives, makes the lures with its own molds and incorporates details that make them as lifelike as possible.
Bio Bait products are sold in Scheels, an employee-owned all-sports retailer in Northern Colorado. Scheels also has started selling Bio Bait products in select Montana stores. It's also available online through several retailers and direct through the Bio Bait website.
In March, the company had an order for 33,000 packs of its lures from Mystery Tackle Box, a monthly mail-order service that sends its customers lures and tackle similar to the Dollar Shave Club business model. Each Bio Bait pack has six to 10 lures per pack.
"People love being able to test out the product," Weaver says. "Hopefully we will get to the point where every quarter or six months, we will have an offering through them."
Bio Bait is in the process of negotiating deals to expand nationally and internationally. It wants to be in regions that are eco-conscious such as the Pacific Northwest, California, New England and the Great Lakes region of the Midwest.
Challenges: Scaling production up to handle larger orders like the Mystery Tackle Box purchase is one of the big hurdles facing Bio Bait. "What we need is just an opportunity to get onto big-box store shelves," Weaver says.
Opportunities: The power of networking and social media is where the opportunities lie for Bio Bait. The company has more than 20,000 followers on Facebook and more than 15,000 on Instagram. "This is a very word-of-mouth industry," Weaver says. "Big names are starting to get behind our mission of the conservation of our waterways. We're starting to make a bit of a splash in a really big pond."
Needs: Weaver says the company needs to get into big-box retail stores to really succeed."Right now, the small ma-and-pas and online have been our bread and butter, but we want to make this available across the world," he says. "The bigger-box stores are a bit longer of a sales process. They're concerned with our deliverables. We've done everything we can to be prepared for growth. We have a solid team."