Loge. Co is a hospitality and Real Estate company based in Seattle, Washington, that is primarily focused on the "outdoor active lifestyle" industry of athletes, tourists, and travelers. At present, anyone seeking adventure in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, especially in the forests of Seattle, there is an incredible lack of lodging options. Loge Co. seeks to remedy this situation by offering camping and lodging destinations that cater specifically to hikers, surfers, and other outdoor and adventure enthusiasts.

Noting the success of their initial location in the Westport area of Washington state in 2017, Loge Co. now aims to grow its reach to mountain lovers. In late September, the company unveiled a "Series A" funding round totaling 1.85 million. Entrepreneur, Vanderbilt graduate and Microsoft veteran Cale Genenbacher was one of the founders of this organization, and he plans to use the funding to expand the company, especially in growing their ideas for site-development in the Pacific Northwest.

Recently the CEO of Loge. Co., Johannes Ariens, discussed the company, its goals, and his hopes for its future.

Travel, the outdoors, and accommodations

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in the real estate and Travel industries?

Johannes Ariens (JA): I've always enjoyed traveling and hospitality, as most people do, but for me it I think it was something truly ingrained. As a child, my family spent months every year on the road in our old VW bus, these experiences and memories left a serious impression on me.

They are my most cherished times, and the opportunity to be a part of other traveler’s stories is something I truly feel fortunate for and what makes me love this business.

As for real estate, to some degree, it's simply necessary. For us, though it's what if done well, can become the conduit for connection. It's the 'placemaking' that matters, turning an entire property or even multiple properties into places that drive community.

It takes real places to build real connections; our society is going away from this, we are going straight into it. It's tangible you can touch and smell it, there is texture and depth, these are things that awaken greater senses and open us up to experience deeper connections with those around us. It is the real estate that fosters the connections the grow the community our business is reliant on.

MM: Why did you decide to focus on creating accommodations for people who are interested in outdoor activities?

JA: From gear storage to local beta, recreation-based travel is a unique experience that we do because we are passionate about the pursuit, no matter what your position in life or income this is common. But so much of the industry is focused on the gear and not the experience; for us, the experience, the pursuit, the camaraderie, the adventure and sharing of it is the real why we saw that as missing or scattered at best.

MM: Are you personally into any outdoor hobbies like surfing, hiking, or other such activities and, if so, did that increase your awareness of the need for these services?

JA: It safe to say this didn't increase my awareness for the need but more was the basis for it. I am an active skier both inbound and back-country and have worked in the industry for more than fifteen years as a professional ski patroller. I also recreationally rock and alpine climb, ski mountaineer, ice climb, snowboard, and just started mountain biking. As far as surfing goes, I often say I spend a fair amount of time in the water but am truly only at the very beginning of that journey; it's an art form that takes a lifetime of commitment to master if there is such a thing. It is no doubt the hardest thing I've ever taken on, physically and mentally, which I think is largely what makes it so appealing to me.

Locations, funding, and future plans

MM: How do you select each location and tailor them to the kinds of clients you're looking to attract?

JA: The general region/location part is relatively easy, go where we play. The specifics get a bit trickier especially as in many cases where we aren't building from the ground up but instead working off an existing property. Once we do have something though it's a matter of working through the basic pain points; where does my bike go, putting on a wet wetsuit sucks, it's too expensive, rental surfboards are lame, etc. Addressing these is also pretty intuitive as users ourselves. The tricky part is the “space making” and figuring out how to drive community and connection through that process.

We love this part and typically start by simply spending time on the property with our friends and seeing where we naturally draw and then from there we start deconstructing the flow of the natural topography to figure out what makes certain spots special, and figuring out how we can play off of that; be it a view, a hill, or even just how the trees are positioned. Our clients can feel this intention when they are on-site as they draw to the same areas and it is these spots that provide the conduit for conversation and connection.

MM: What was the process of getting this company off the ground and how did you secure the "Series A" funding?

JA: STARTING, there is nothing more powerful than action, I am a staunch believer in this, the reaction is inevitable. That reaction can come in many forms from getting slapped in the face which the Startup community would refer to as 'failing fast' TO finding support which can have many forms. We've had our share of slaps, but overall the support has outweighed the slaps which is why we've had the opportunity to keep going.

We were confident our idea had legs but struggled to get going with raising prior to landing our first location. Once we had those keys though with only two months before payments and nowhere near the money to finish much less start things got serious but so did our ability to show we were more than bright idea fairies looking for a spot-on tech stars. Once we had the place, we had to show that there is consumer interest in what we were doing so we launched a Kickstarter that was very successful as far as market proofing goes and definitely did the trick. This all added to our story both from a commitment level and validation perspective.

We had a place and had taken people's money, we were in deep, to say the least as we still didn't have a product and literally only a few months to go before people were going to be collecting on their support but these actions were what floated us up through the loud, thick weeds that is the Seattle Startup scene and gained us the investor attention we needed to get this off the ground truly.

The series A has been exciting, and our early phase raises success in it, I would attribute this to many of the same attributes that got us off the ground, but perhaps in a version, I would likely refer to as more 'polished.' Our tactic though is the same, start and execute, so don't talk. We delivered on our first property with an epic first quarter in business, an incredible investor team, passionate staff, and brand partners that by all right we don't deserve, but we all share a vision, so it's been working.

With this all behind us in a matter of months we dove right into getting multiple new locations under contract just as we had outlined in our seed round deck but with years chopped off the schedule. Our team which absolutely includes our investors is made of the type of people who thrive on action and execution, it's in their DNA, so when the series A hit we all knew what it meant and were stoked and ready to do everything in our power to crush it. So far so good but I'd say to stay tuned for more on the final results...we have big plans for the future!

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