A love of fly-fishing and a desire to improve the delivery of flies to anglers led to Bloomsburg University student Nathaniel Treichler, a sophomore from Northampton, to win the $10,000 first place prize in the sixth annual Student Business Plan Competition sponsored by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
Treichler has enjoyed the sport of fly-fishing for years and always wanted to start a business around his favorite activity. “I knew the business model had to be different,” says Treichler. “There are hundreds of fly fishing companies, but they focus on a one-time sell. My goal was to build a community of fly anglers who would purchase on a predictable, repetitive basis, which is how the subscription basis model started. After that, I simply designed The Fly Crate's Members' Club.”
The Fly Crate has been in business since February of 2016 and now has close to 2,000 customers.
“Starting a business from scratch is not easy,” Treichler says. “It is not something you learn through reading books or going online because all publications say the same thing, ‘it depends on your business,’ so you’re stuck. I am fortunate to have Dr. Steven Welch as a mentor and adviser, and he told me about the PASSHE competition near the end of 2016 Spring semester.”
The annual Business Plan Competition provides student entrepreneurs a real-world opportunity to pitch their original business plans and to win funds to assist in the start-up of their businesses. Students from the 14 State System universities participate in the competition.
“I plan to use the prize money to improve the ‘unboxing’ experience of The Fly Crate packaging and on internet marketing,” says Treichler.
Treichler is also proud that The Fly Crate is helping disabled veterans. “When members purchase six flies, we donate one to Project Healing Waters. Project Healing Waters helps with the physical and mental rehabilitation of disabled active military, service personnel, and disabled veterans.”
“The Fly Crate will also expand our current operations into the fly tying market. At the same time, we'll grow the online fly shop with a variety of innovative new fly designs and publishing content-rich articles,” says Treichler. “More importantly, I see The Fly Crate having a large voice in conservation and educating the public in preserving our natural resources for generations to come.”