From the lakes to the mountains, from Lebanon to Littleton, Grafton County is a diverse and thriving community. In this new segment, the team at GRDC spends some time with our region’s small businesses; what made them go into business? How are they supporting their neighbors, and in turn, how is the community supporting them? What advice do they have for startups?
Join us every month as we talk to a different small business in Grafton County.
Louis DeAngelis, Owner
GRDC: We’re very excited today to be speaking with GRDC loan client Louis DeAngelis, founder of Effortless Adventure in Plymouth. Louis, your business model is simple but also so innovative- tell us about it.
Louis: I founded Effortless Adventure in March of 2019 with the vision of providing camping gear packages that included everything someone might need to have a great camping or backpacking trip in the White Mountains. It really took off with first-time campers and those with limited storage space. For the occasional camper, you may not know all of the supplies and equipment you’ll need, and if you do – you might not want to own it yourself. That’s where we come in. You can rent your gear either as a complete package, or you can pick and choose what you’d like from our A La Carte options. The morning of your pickup, you’ll receive a door code and locker number for our facility in Plymouth, N.H. to collect your items. And then you’re on your way; our gear comes with instructions and tips to make the most of your trip!
GRDC: Especially now, this is a perfect option to have a fun and safe getaway.
Louis: When we started the season last year, we felt the belt-tightening and impacts Covid-19 has had on the economy. Luckily for us, camping and backpacking is the ultimate outdoor and social distancing friendly excursion. Once July rolled around, we were very busy right up until the end of the season.
GRDC: Well, we’re thrilled to hear it! How did you get started? What made you want to open your own business?
Louis: I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was a kid; from lemonade stands to mowing lawns, I always had a job. After several years of working hard for different employers here in NH and elsewhere, I felt it was time to start working hard for myself.
GRDC: So, you’ve been in business for just about two years, and half that time has been in the middle of a pandemic. How have you seen the community come together and support each other?
Louis: We couldn’t be happier with the local business community and our customers. Our membership in the Western White Mountains Chamber of Commerce has been invaluable; they’ve been an excellent resource for the changing COVID guidelines and hub of information, plus they’re very supportive. We’ve also had great relationships with several private and national forest campgrounds that have strengthened this past summer. On top of that we’ve also been able to partner with other fantastic local businesses like North Country Climbing Center and Great Glen Trails for our Guided Tour programs.
GRDC: That’s wonderful; we love to hear about collaborations. Tell me more about your Guided Tours.
Louis: We launched our guided adventures in 2020, primarily focusing on providing opportunities for Whitewater Kayaking, Rock Climbing, and Flatwater Kayaking Tours. We pair those guided experiences with our Effortless Adventure gear rentals as well as campsites to make for great little getaways.
Partly inspired by the pandemic, we also launched our Self-Guided tours which we’ve branded as “Social Distancing Adventures” as they are a perfect way to get out during this time period, while being mindful of others. Our Self-Guided Adventures include hiking, swimming holes, waterfalls, and our popular Brews and Views adventure, which is a great way to experience our local brewery scene and support small businesses.
GRDC: What a fantastic idea and opportunity to really engage with the local businesses.
Louis: That’s the plan! Our Social Distancing Adventures include gear rentals, campsite reservations, and a digital itinerary that you can download to your phone and don’t need to worry about cell service. The itinerary includes driving directions, trail maps, activities, and more.
GRDC: I really appreciate the thoughtfulness that you put into this program. While not having reliable or consistent cell service is something people from the area anticipate, out-of-staters might not think of it.
Louis: Right, Effortless Adventure really tries to think of everything so our clients can just enjoy their vacations!
Tourism is New Hampshire’s second- largest industry. Customers come up to the White Mountains for a unique, outdoor experience- but without a mentor to show you the ropes, it can be challenging to get started. Effortless Adventure tries to fill that role.
GRDC: You guys are a full-service shop! What’s next for Effortless Adventure?
Louis: Down the line, we would love to continue to expand our offerings here in New Hampshire and team up with more local businesses and organizations. Longer term, our business model allows for fairly easy expansion in other regions across the U.S., if we continue to hit our goals, we hope to have another location within the next two years.
GRDC: You have also just embarked on a new venture, right?
Louis: Actually, yes! A couple of friends and I just opened Downriver Media. We offer high-quality video content creation, mostly for outdoor/travel lifestyle brands and businesses. We’re also based right here in New Hampshire. We’ve been off to a great start with several local projects in the works. We just finished up a shoot at the beautiful Mountain View Grand Resort in Whitefield and have a lot lined up this summer for clients in the White Mountains, the Lakes Region, as well as out of state.
GRDC: You certainly are busy! Alright, Louis, as an owner of two businesses, what advice can you offer other small businesses just starting?
Louis: Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. If you like to challenge yourself, problem solve and learn on a daily basis, it very well could be for you. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing your idea start to work. I remember vividly the first time seeing the email pop up that someone booked their camping gear with Effortless Adventure. The same goes for the first time a client agreed to choose Downriver for video content.
It only works if you’re willing to put in the time and effort behind the scenes that likely will never be recognized. Even if your idea is a slam dunk, there is a lot of work involved to make it a reality. All of that being said, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s scary, fun, exciting and difficult all at the same time, but in the end, I’ve learned so much.
Most importantly, make sure you have a strong support system behind you. Whether that be your business partner(s), friends or family, having some helping hands is key. Get involved in your community and meet other business owners as well. Opportunities for partnership are great, but so is just being able to chat with someone who’s been where you are.
GRDC: Louis, this has been great! And as a loan client, I have to tell you- all of us at GRDC are very proud of all you’ve done.
Louis: Thanks, I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences working with GRDC!
GRDC: Thanks again, Louis!
Season passes, rentals and adventures from Effortless Adventure are available now. To learn more, visit https://effortlessadventure.com or call 603-726-1702.
For more information on Downriver Media, visit: https://www.downriver.media
If you would like to have your business featured in our Small Business Spotlight, email us at [email protected].