Mountain climbing is a sport that many people adopt as their hobby and weekly activity. Just like any other sport, the equipment is expensive or not available in Lebanon.
Jad Issa’s passion for this sport was his muse to begin his journey as an entrepreneur. He later applied to Berytech’s STAND Up! Program with the hope of getting the assistance that he needs to make ClimberSpace flourish. ClimberSpace is a small business that specializes in resoling services for climbing and outdoor shoes, that also designs and produces a variety of climbing and outdoor products and apparel.
Q: What do you do exactly? Why did you decide to work on this solution?
A: We started because of a need for climbing shoes during the pandemic and economic crisis in Lebanon. During that period, we noticed that many climbers were struggling to get access to buy or repair climbing shoes – as we used to import them from abroad. That’s when we decided to start the business to meet that need. As the business gained traction, we expanded our offering to include a variety of climbing and outdoor products and apparel.
Q: How did you get started?
A: ClimberSpace started from scratch. We had no money to invest and had to come up with creative solutions to start the business. We built our own machinery, learned how to fix shoes, and started the business from the balcony of our parents’ apartment. With hard work and determination, we expanded the business and eventually rented a small place. Today, ClimberSpace has a fully operating resoling facility. Despite the many challenges of starting a business with limited resources, we have grown to become a trusted name in the climbing and outdoor community in the Middle East and offer our services and products in 4 different countries.
Q: How does your service work?
A: ClimberSpace’s service consists of resoling and production. For the first, our customers can send in their used mountain climbing shoes to be repaired and sent back to them as good as new. We also work with business partners as drop point locations where the shoes are collected in batches and sent to us for repair. For the latter, some products are produced in-house, and others are created in collaboration with local producers and small businesses. These products are available for purchase directly from the company or through our partner businesses.
Q: What makes your solution special or unique?
A: ClimberSpace’s uniqueness is that we are the first to offer locally produced climbing services and products in the whole region by people from and closely connected to the outdoor community. We are also proud to offer services and products that are not only high quality but also created and produced by people who understand and are passionate about the climbing and outdoor community. This close connection to the community is what makes ClimberSpace stand out in the market.
Q: Who is benefitting from your solution? Why is your solution important to you?
A: People who are benefiting directly from our solutions are climbers and outdoor people in Lebanon, the Middle East, and tourists who visit our region. Our solution is important to us because we want to help promote the beauty of climbing and the outdoors in the region through locally crafted services and products that represent the local community. By providing high-quality resoling services and products, ClimberSpace aims to make climbing more accessible to people and to foster a sense of community among climbers and outdoor enthusiasts. The company’s goal is to connect people through their shared love of the outdoors and to promote the beauty of climbing in Lebanon and the region.
Q: How is your solution relevant to your sector and Lebanon?
A: ClimebrSpace is relevant to our sector and Lebanon, as it produces products and services that support local businesses. We also want to use ClimberSpace as a vessel to share the beauty of Lebanon.
Q: Why did you apply to the STAND Up! program? How did you benefit from it?
A: The reason ClimberSpace applied for this program is to gain access to mentors who can help shape and grow the business. We were eager to meet like-minded people and learn relevant information that would aid in scaling the business.
We mostly benefited from meeting mentors and other entrepreneurs, who share the same passion for having their startups grow and be successful. ClimberSpace has successfully scaled its resoling facility and expanded its offering to four countries: Lebanon, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. We have also been able to properly organize touring logistics processes, accounting, and production.
Q: What are your key success factors?
A: The key success factors for ClimberSpace include:
- Providing high-quality resoling services and products that meet the needs of the climbing and outdoor community.
- Building reliable and efficient logistics and accounting systems.
- Expanding the business to new markets and countries.
- Building a strong brand and reputation in the industry.
- Continuously innovating and adapting to the changing market trends.
- Building a strong relationship with suppliers and partners.
- Strong customer service and support.
Q: If you had to choose one achievement to highlight, what would it be and what lessons did you learn from it?
A: One achievement and the biggest achievement yet would be expanding the business to new countries outside of Lebanon. Through this process, we learned how to effectively reach out to new customers in different markets and adapt our services and products to meet their needs. We also learned the importance of building a strong brand and reputation, as well as the importance of a reliable logistics and accounting system to support our growth. Additionally, we also learned the importance of building strong relationships with partners and suppliers to support our expansion efforts. It was a challenging but rewarding experience that taught us valuable lessons about growing and scaling a business successfully.
Q: What are the main challenges that you have faced so far? How did you overcome these challenges?
A: One of the challenges we faced was getting access to finance and being able to open a bank account in the current difficult economic times in Lebanon, which took us a lot of time and effort. Logistics were also not easy to figure out and the ongoing fluctuation of the currency in Lebanon made it hard to run a consistent business operation. Despite these challenges, we were able to overcome them by putting in a lot of time and effort, and finding creative and unconventional solutions whenever we faced one.
Q: What is one thing you would have done differently throughout your journey?
A: We would have registered with the company abroad, as this would have made everything smoother and easier.
Q: What are your long-term goals as a startup?
A: Our long-term goal is to become a world-class climbing and outdoor brand and a vessel that shares the beauty of our nature, culture and people through locally crafted outdoor products and services.
Q: Have you ever thought of giving up on your venture? What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is starting in your industry?
A: No never, we face challenges daily, but our strong vision and bond as brothers gave us the grit to overcome these challenges. Our advice is to love what you do and focus on delivering value and the money will follow.
About the STAND Up! Project
The STAND Up! project aims to enhance scalable, replicable, and inclusive circular economy ventures in the Mediterranean by developing an ecosystem of business support, innovation, and technology transfer that will lead to sustainable job creation for youth and women. Learn more about the STAND Up! project.