When rock climbers need equipment or information to plan their next epic adventure, Sander DiAngelis wants Moja Gear to be the first thing that comes to mind.
“Moja means 'one' in Swahili,” said DiAngelis, a co-founder and chief executive officer of the fledgling enterprise, Moja Outdoors Inc. “And this is one central spot for rock climbers to read articles, engage with other climbers and buy products.”
While Moja Gear is content driven, it is also an online retail sales platform for The Mountain Air, which has been in San Luis Obispo for 40 years.
“They sell all the products through our website,” DiAngelis said. “Mountain Air is our strategic partner, and we get a commission out of each sale.”
The partnership works, he said, because it can be difficult for specialty, brick-and-mortar shops to build their own content and product photos, as well as learn how to best promote its Internet presence.
“Our specialty is the Internet; it is the marketing and it is the social media and it is building the brand,” DiAngelis said. “In short, it’s a seamless channel for them to sell online.”
Moja Outdoors Inc. started more than a year ago as a Cal Poly senior project that made its way through a series of programs at the university’s Center for Innovation, including The Hatchery, which fosters the development of startups.
The startup also received support from local mentors and participated in the university’s annual elevator pitch competition, which gives students opportunities to sell their ideas to a panel of business leaders. It was involved in the SLO HotHouse, which provides Cal Poly students and alumni $7,500 in funding to help start a company.
With its team of six people, including co-founder Natalie Siddique, Moja Outdoors Inc. is focusing first on growing the Moja Gear brand and making it a “household name among climbers,” DiAngelis said. Then, the aim is to duplicate the model to cater to enthusiasts of snow sports, cycling, yoga and other activities under Moja Outdoors.
A key element of the business is also to promote social and environmental causes. Moja Gear donates 1 percent of each sale to organizations that support the climbing community.
“Among the younger generation, there is a growing interest and awareness for conscious and responsible behaviors, and that's what we're trying to connect with,” he said.