Innovation alert: meet Cirkel Supply!
Winter is in full swing, and we finally had some nice loads of snow! How to enjoy the mountains, but make your outdoor adventure more sustainable, convenient and accessible to everyone? Meet Cirkel Supply, a young startup in the Swiss Alps which specialises in apparel rental, offering skiers and snowboarders a new, circular way to reduce the impact of their sport by renting premium outerwear.
Co-founder Anders Bergenstrand explains how everything started: “My background in fashion exposed me to the rise of circular models like rental and resale. As a passionate skier, I wanted to see these models implemented in the outdoor industry.”
While hardgoods rental is already established in the Alps because skiing is a low-usage sport (it’s estimated that 60% of Europe’s skiers already rent skis and boots indicating they don't ski often enough to justify ownership), clothing rental has been offered by some ski rental shops - but not to a premium standard.
“It was typically a budget offering that rental stores provided in order to not lose customers who needed clothing”, says Anders. “The idea for Cirkel Supply is to make clothing rental premium, effortless, and convenient. We achieve this by working with great brands, making the digital booking process easy, and our delivery service super convenient as we deliver straight to the customer's hotel or destination.”
The startup works with suppliers who share their vision for a sustainable future, and provide high performance gear that is responsibly produced, such as Houdini, Patagonia and Namuk, a Swiss kids clothing brand. Tourism businesses like hotels and travel agencies also partner with Cirkel Supply to offer this new service to their guests and incorporate sustainability into their offerings. Meanwhile, the young company also had ski rental shops reaching out to them, which are keen to explore the opportunities of clothing rental. Anders and his colleagues deliver Cirkel rental packages to the stores so the clients can easily pick up their skis, boots and clothing all at the same time and location.
Asked about the biggest challenges in their entrepreneurial journey so far, Anders says:
“We're learning every day about operations, tech and rental customer requirements - it's an exciting and transformational time! Finding investment to get Cirkel off the ground has been, and continues to be a big challenge. Now that we have customer traction, we're definitely generating a lot more positive interest. Some might feel frustrated to look at the potential in the market and acknowledge the limitations of our resources as a young company. But that’s startup life, and we are rising to the challenge by adapting and innovating to achieve our goals within our means, and that’s also what makes it fun!”
This year, the startup will be launching a seed round, aiming to find investors who share their vision and help them to grow. Looking into the future, Anders has a clear vision: “Within 5 years we will have a year-round service: in addition to ski and snowboard gear, we will offer a great assortment of light-usage summer products like camping and hiking equipment. In the future we also see Cirkel Supply building our business as a B2B circular service provider for brands, rental stores and tourism companies.”
He concludes: “Circular business models are here to stay. We’re excited to see resale, rental and repair become significant drivers in the outdoor industry. We encourage everyone to continue exploring the outdoors, but engage with sustainable, circular business models to lower the impact of their sports.”
He adds: “We're getting very involved with the circular economy. This is such a positive community to be part of. It seems when people, businesses and organisations are united by a desire to implement sustainable solutions - there is less competitiveness and more open sharing of information. We're members of the Sustainable Mountain Alliance, Re-Action Collective and we're also participating in the Circular Economy Transition incubator for 2023.”
Learn more: Cirkel Supply Co. | Buy less, use more, go explore.