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Life Bag: Veteran Owned Small Business Series – Part II

lb_4lb_3lb2Life Bag is a VOSB On a Mission

If you missed our overview of Life Bag’s top-tier survival bag offering, check it out here.

Preparedness is an important part of everyday life. The ability to adapt to and recover from the unexpected is valuable, but often goes untested for long periods of time. We live in a very safe world, comparatively, although this doesn’t make us immune to commonplace hardships like traffic, weather, mechanical failure, and even violence. Some of us are better trained for these situations than others, perhaps none as well as our ludicrously rugged Special Forces soldiers.

Tim, Co-Owner of Life Bag, is currently an active duty member of a Special Forces unit and prefers to leave his background and duty details out of this piece. Sufficed to say that he is trained by the best in wilderness navigation, survival, various kinds of combat, among numerous other skills. Originally from Connecticut, Tim and his family are constantly bouncing around the country from base to base, training, traveling, and trying to get together as much as they can. This lifestyle inevitably means plenty of time spent traveling, usually in motor vehicles.

During our interview, Tim explained in a taciturn but matter of fact tone that one of the primary wake up moments for him was the Sandy Hook shooting. Although well attuned to the dangers of everyday life, this was the shock that turned his attention to the sometimes preventable yet perfectly survivable situations that we all might find ourselves in. He posed the example of a snowstorm in North Carolina. Being a Virginia native, I can attest to the fact that southern drivers seem to forget everything they know about driving, friction, physics, gravity, common sense, and human decency in the face of inclement weather.

Miles-long traffic jams without food or water, traffic accidents that leave the victims without heat and a lack of basic medical supplies, or even becoming lost while searching for a rural gas station are all entirely plausible scenarios during a southern winter event. Given that Tim’s family and friends were burning highway so frequently, he decided to start putting together little survival bags for them. Thus, the idea for Life Bag was born.

Life Bag is a family business. The three primary operators (the business kind, but also the freedom fighter kind) of the venture have military backgrounds. Tim is the youngest, with his more senior partners keeping things buttoned up while he’s deployed or training, and providing valuable business insight. His father in law spent 20 years in the Army, while the third partner spent 20 years in the Navy. Life Bag is a learning process, and they’ve adopted an evolving model that’s growing with demand and adapting to consumer needs.

Tim responded to a couple of the points we made in our overview of their top-tier offering, the Life Bag Level III:

Reference Material: Inexperienced or undertrained survivalists need to know how to use the gear included in the bag. Of course, training is essential. Let’s be honest though, not all of our friends and family have the time or the interest. Given that Life Bag started as a failsafe for loved ones, Tim is planning on including reference material in the future. “Reference material is coming, and we encourage Life Bag customers to print out and laminate relevant instructions from the internet until we start including them in bags,” said Tim.

Suggested Bag Adaptation for Inclusion of a Firearm. We ordered the 5.11 Bag Upgrade, and found the bag to be exceptional in most regards, but couldn’t find a quick to access and solid exterior or near-zipper area to store a hook and loop holster or other retention device for a pistol. Life Bag supports the firearms industry, said Tim, and the nature of the bag is that it can be a baseline from which to build something that’s user-specific. Not all Life Bag users will be firearms enthusiasts or owners, so this highly personal element of preparedness is currently left to the end-user.

Lack of Geography or Urban/Rural Bag Customization. If I live in New York City, my disaster preparedness needs will be very different from someone from rural North Dakota. Obviously, Life Bag is aware of this. They’ve done a number of custom bags for folks in different areas of the country, and this is really where they shine. Given their background and training, they’ll think of things that Joe New York never would have. It’s not entirely apparent that they offer this service, or how valuable it is on their website, but they’re a new company that’s still developing their products and web presence. I encourage folks to reach out to them after perusing their offerings. It’s not very much more expensive, and you’re getting a lot of knowledge from an expert; it’s almost like survival consulting. Tim described putting together an urban bag that included laminated maps of the city, pry tools, and other urban items that aren’t included in ordinary Life Bags. Hearing him light up as he discussed the philosophy behind a custom bag was illuminating- he really likes this stuff.

Life Bag’s model has a few minor shortcomings like high overhead and the fact that folks could just buy this stuff on their own. The fact is that most people don’t have the time or want to spend the effort to put together something they don’t really count on using at some point. Explaining the value of a Life Bag to someone who has never feared for their lives in a survivable situation can be tricky, but the investment is minimal and the return is enormous. People would often rather spend money than time, so in the right situation, Life Bag speaks for itself. This VOSB offers a thoughtful and comprehensive product that provides effective survival equipment and peace of mind.

As a bit of a survival nerd, I have to say that I’m very interested in the Custom Bag. This is where Life Bag really has the potential to shine a la Blue Ocean (having a differentiating factor that edges out your competition by addressing pain points). As an aside, the best example of Blue Ocean that I’ve heard is Cirque du Soleil. It’s a Circus, but it’s an adult circus with art and no animal cruelty. In the case of Life Bag, offering a survival consulting service without charging an ultra-premium is a big deal. Applying the skillset of a Special Forces soldier to equipment selection for any environment on earth, acquiring the kit, packing it, and shipping it straight to a customer’s home is a genuine game changer within a budding industry. I wish Tim, his partners, and his family the absolute best moving forward, and will make sure to update Red Hatchet as his business develops.

 

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