Hyperlite Mountain Gear taps investors to fuel growth
Investors have poured more than $1 million into the Biddeford manufacturer of ultra-lightweight outdoor equipment
Posted by Portland Press Herald
December 10th, 2015
Hyperlite Mountain Gear, a manufacturer of ultra-lightweight outdoor equipment like tents and backpacks, has raised more than $1 million to help grow its business.
Fourteen investors funneled $1.13 million into the Biddeford-based company as part of the investment deal, which closed last month, according to Dan St. Pierre, Hyperlite’s co-founder and chief financial officer.
The five-year-old company is growing “rapidly” and will use the funds to expand its manufacturing space, marketing efforts and product offerings, St. Pierre said. It currently employs 21 people and occupies roughly 7,000 square feet in Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill, a brick factory where thousands of textile workers once created blankets and clothing. This new injection of capital will help the company double the amount of space it occupies in the mill building, invest in its research and development, and boost its digital marketing efforts. It also expects to add six new jobs in 2016, St. Pierre said.
Investors include the Maine Venture Fund, CEI Ventures, Telluride Venture Fund and 11 individual investors, including five who belong to Maine Angels, a group of accredited investors who pool their resources to invest in promising startups in New England, St. Pierre said. While most of the other individual investors are from Maine, there are several that are from out of state, he said.
Tim Agnew, who helped lead the Maine Angels’ $137,500 investment in Hyperlite, said he sees a lot of promise in the company.
“I love their products and their passion for trying to be a leader in a niche that I think has the potential to grow,” Agnew said.
This is the second round of investment the company has raised. It accepted roughly $1 million in a round that closed about 18 months ago, St. Pierre said.
The company focuses on producing outdoor equipment made from ultra-lightweight, high-tech fabric. It began as an idea in 2008 when Mike St. Pierre, Dan’s brother, was a chef in New York City who wanted to lighten his load while on hiking trips in the Adirondacks. Mike St. Pierre started testing fabrics and eventually discovered Cuben fiber, a high-performance, composite laminate developed in the 1990s by a nuclear weapons physicist and an aerospace composite engineer. He moved to Maine, borrowed sewing machines and enlisted his brother to help him launch the company out of a garage.
The company has been growing ever since. Dan St. Pierre wouldn’t disclose revenue figures, but the company is still operating in the red. He expects the company to break even next year, he said.
“We believe our minimalist design philosophies and ultralight materials technology are applicable for all outdoor adventurers,” St. Pierre said. “So we will likely continue to expand our product offering over the next several years to expand our reach and relevance to the varied outdoor adventure activities.”
Agnew praised the company’s products and said it’s a perfect fit in a state with an image such as Maine’s, he said.
“It’s another good Maine story of a company that creates jobs, has substance and has the opportunity to grow,” Agnew said. “It’s not going to be L.L.Bean, but it’ll offer nice jobs with benefits for people to do stitching and the kind of work that’s been done in Biddeford for 200 years.”