OP is GO

How Outdoor Provisions came to be & the development of all-natural energy bars

Words and images by Christian (op co-founder)

Sleepless Nights

Warning: this piece will massively gloss over how complex and testing it is to form an energy bar company.

It’s hard to know where to start writing this first note on provision as there is so much to cover and my mind is a muddle from the last couple of months of bringing everything to this point. The idea of these posts is, however, to be as transparent as possible, so maybe I shouldn’t think about too much.

About a year ago I had a sleepless night thinking about some issues in my previous job (my career up to this point has been entirely in food manufacture innovation and supply chain functions). I was so worked up about a certain project that I gave up trying to sleep, got out of bed and made a ton of notes on everything I would do if I was to manufacture my own food products.

Building Momentum

Over the next few weeks these ideas matured into more coherent thoughts and then into long, increasingly animated conversations whilst away bikepacking the Second City Divide route with the other half of Outdoor Provisions, Luke.

I was increasingly convinced that there was space in the market for a company making better performing, better tasting and better made energy products. But also scope to go further than that - to go deeper into how it was wrapped, then packaged and more.

I was also driven by a more selfish aim to be able to spend more time outside, particularly in the UK. I love it; walking, through-hiking, mountain biking, gravel riding, fell running, climbing, a bit of kayaking. The term we coined for both Luke and I is a fresh-air-head, which made it all the way into our marketing.

At the end of a particularly savage mountain bike race season (where I’d also sampled a lot of energy products), I was in need of a rest and completely stopped riding to throw all my efforts into the idea. I can be quite single minded when I want to be. It didn’t take us too long to come up with a name for a brand that was going to provide things for outdoor use and before we got too carried away dreaming about designing bivvy bags and down jackets, I wrote up what I believed to be a relatively sensible business plan, to prove that the idea had legs.

"I love it; walking, through hiking, mountain biking, gravel riding, fell running, climbing, a bit of kayaking."

Passion vs Funding

What became obvious quickly was that the abundance of passion we had for forming the business was not matched by an abundance of cash to do so. There are a number of funding options out there but in early 2019 we went with a private funding round backed by peers, friends and family. The ones we wanted to ask were all fresh-air-heads too and hopefully we can introduce you to them further down the line.

This was coupled with a Start Up Loan that Luke and I successfully applied for and split 50/50. Through Spring, with the signing of contracts and the depositing of large sums of money into a newly opened bank account, things started to get real. Not least as the conflict of interest and sheer amount of work meant I needed to take the plunge and leave my job.

We worked incredibly hard with a design studio called Intercity on the identity and more latterly, this website. We knew them before Outdoor Provisions and they share a mutual passion for the outdoors too, which made the process of translating what was in our heads a bit easier. We're planning to honour them in full in a note on our identity and their process later on.

The Third Week Of September

Fast forward through summer (where did that go?) and in the third week of September we’re launching the first two of the four flavours of our all natural energy bars. We have been a little impatient in getting to this point, but to form a company and have two products on the table, since December, feels like good going.

What that does elude to is the number of recipe revisions we did; from kitchen mixer through to factory trial there were over 40. We had to deal with material supply issues, global shortages of compostable adhesives, a last minute change of packaging supplier and that's just scratching the surface on the supply chain side. But I'm not going to dwell on that stuff now.

In the time it takes to grow a human, we’ve formed a company and brought product to market. Now the real fun can start - let's take this outside.

If you've got a story that features Outdoor Provisions and you'd like to tell it, get it touch...