Julie Harrelson, CEO of the Harrelson Group, Fund Manager of Cascade Angels, loves taking selfies with entrepreneurs, investors and people of Oregon who support building a strong Oregon through entrepreneurialism. This blog continues a series of selfies + blogs about the amazing people she’s met in the last couple of years. #julieselfie

Cairn believes that being outside replenishes the soul. The company was founded with the goal of creating meaningful ways for people to feel connected with the outdoors in their everyday lives. Their monthly subscription box service introduces people to innovative new products and gear that inspires them to get outdoors and try new things, go new places, and share the experience with others.

In the fall of 2014, Cairn was a member of the first class of Bend Outdoor Worx, an accelerator for Central Oregon outdoor-product companies. At the start of 2015, the company, founded by Rob Little and Jared Peterson, had two employees and approximately 500 subscribers. Today Cairn has 14 employees, ships products to over 15,000 subscribers each month, and sources products from over 100 companies. Cairn, based in Bend, was chosen among all development stage companies in Oregon as the winner of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network Entrepreneurship Award in 2015.

Cascade Angels participated invested in a $2M round in May of 2016 that included several strategic investors. Cairn is the first Cascade Angels consumer products portfolio company. As noted by many, including a recent Forbes article, there is a growing critical mass in the outdoor industry in Central Oregon, positioning the area as a potential hub for outdoor product innovation. I recently caught up with Rob Little and Jared Peterson at Cairn to talk their growth, their collaboration and the band that ties it all together–Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Julie and Cairn co-founders Jared Peterson and Rob Little.

Julie: You met at Wharton business school. What is the most important thing you learned there?

Rob and Jared: The people you meet and the lasting relationships are far more valuable than anything learned in the class.

Julie: What are the three top reasons Cairn is growing and can you give me an idea of # of subscriptions or rate of growth?

R&J: The first is our strong brand and purpose that people can relate to; second is never compromising on product quality and the third reason is our awesome team, which executes on our vision. We’ve seen strong growth since we shipped our first box in 2014.  In 2016 we shipped almost 200,000 boxes!

As co-founders, what makes your collaboration work. How do you differentiate roles and solve issues?

R&J: Trust is key. We know when we need to involve the other, and when to make decisions individually. We differentiate our roles by playing to our individual strengths and relying on the other as a sounding board.

Julie: If you had to choose a theme song for the company, what would it be? or could you each share a phrase or tagline that describes the other.

R&J: Our theme song would be Up Around the Bend, by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The lyrics go like …

There’s a place up ahead and I’m goin’
Just as fast as my feet can fly
Come away, come away if you’re goin’
Leave the sinkin’ ship behind

Come on the risin’ wind,
We’re goin’ up around the bend


Bring a song and a smile for the banjo
Better get while the gettin’s good
Hitch a ride to the end of the highway
Where the neon’s turn to wood

Come on the risin’ wind,
We’re goin’ up around the bend


You can ponder perpetual motion,
Fix your mind on a crystal day,
Always time for a good conversation,
There’s an ear for what you say

Come on the risin’ wind,
We’re goin’ up around the bend.


Julie: And what about your taglines ….

J: For Rob, it would be “Give me 4 hours of sleep, a glass of water, and a spreadsheet and I’ll give you success.”

R: I think Jared’s is definitely “Diet Coke makes me invincible.”

Also this:

If you throw a Xmas party, you know who to call: These guys.


Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley