How this ex-fly fishing guide turned to his community to fund a global outdoor business.

From Fishing to Finance

The year was 2020 and overnight Matt Butler’s life was turned upside down. The founder of KEA Outdoors was formerly a Fly Fishing guide wholly reliant on overseas tourism. With the borders closing his clients could no longer visit NZ for the foreseeable future, so it was time to pivot. 


Without hesitation, Matt set off on a journey to tackle the problems he saw in the outdoor gear industry, particularly in outdoor equipment and accessories. After a year of experimentation, KEA Outdoors was born in early 2021 and has now built into a business with global reach, all with the help of crowdfunding. 


With no money to fund his first production run of ‘KEA KIT’, the company’s survival and first-aid product. Matt decided that crowdfunding was the only way to truly gauge whether it was a product the market would respond to, whilst also raising the funds to make it should it be successful. 


Matt spent months diving into all the successful crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter to try find their ‘secrets to success’, but there were just a few things that stood out: Community and Product. It was obvious you needed to focus on these both to even have a shot at having a decent campaign. 


By leaning on his extensive list of former clients from around the world, Matt was able to drum up enough support from his ‘community’ to raise over $30k on the first day of his campaign, surpassing the goal and building momentum. It was then the strength of the product that carried the campaign through the coming weeks and eventually landed on a $300k raise in just 35 days. 


The success of this initial campaign allowed KEA Outdoors to flourish and begin to build out a new product range, launching two further Kickstarter campaigns to similar success. This has culminated in over $700k raised through crowdfunding campaigns which has allowed the company to be fully self funded to date and operate with a very small team. 


This previous success has now laid a foundation for KEA Outdoors to take the next step in their growth journey, by this time raising their first round of investment capital, also through crowdfunding. 

The introduction of Crowdfuning legislation into New Zealand 10 years ago has seen the rise of many community drive brands such as ‘Behemoth Brewing’ and ‘Ethique’. What is essentially a public capital raise allows brands to bring their customers along for the journey and become invested brand ambassadors. 


So it was only natural for KEA Outdoors to take this path and open up the opportunity for its earliest supporters to now own a slice of the brand through their recently launched Equity Crowdfunding campaign on Pledgeme. 


Raising over $150k in just the first week, KEA Outdoors is on target to surpass all their previous campaigns as they try and reach a maximum $500k capital raise in return for equity in the young and growing brand. 


From his years spent on the river, Matt never dreamed how this time could one day translate into support for a new business venture but has proven that if you create value for those who you serve, they will be willing to follow you on the journey. 


KEA Outdoors Equity Crowdunfing campaign runs until the 31st May on Pledgeme. You can see it here



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