June 5, 2002: Class Notes
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Class Notes Profile:
Demetri Coupounas 88 sets lofty goals: Figure out how to balance
the federal budget, climb Kilimanjaro on his honeymoon, and backpack with
no more than a 10-pound pack. To date, hes met all three. As policy
director for the bipartisan Concord Coalition, he divined a way to eliminate
the federal deficit. On Christmas Eve 1992 Coup and his wife,
Kim Riether-Coupounas 89, summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro on their honeymoon.
And through GoLite, a Boulder, Colorado-based start-up, the couple is
three years into creating super-light camping gear.
Passionate backpackers, Coup and Kim got the idea for GoLite from Ray
Jardines Pacific Crest Trail Backpackers Handbook, which promotes
light gear so backpackers can hike farther and more comfortably. The most
devout followers of Jardine make their own equipment, but Coup speculated
regular folks would prefer simply purchasing theirs. In 1998, with the
federal budget on its way to being balanced, Coup penned a letter to Jardine
and asked for his blessing and cooperation in the new business. At the
time, Coup was living in Washington, D.C., and Kim was in Boston, working
for the Shackleton School, an experiential, expedition-based high school.
Coup and Kim, who both earned graduate degrees in public policy and business
from Harvard, were not particularly in love with the East Coast and ready
for new challenges. We started thinking out of the box, says
Kim of their move west in 1998.
GoLite produces outdoor clothing and equipment, including backpacks,
shelter canopies, and sleep systems. On the company Web site
(www.golite.com), each item is listed with its weight in ounces. A typical
multiday backpack without food and water weighs 40 pounds or more. With
GoLites system, you can gear up carrying less than 10 pounds. Their
philosophy: Less weight means more fun.
In 2000, GoLite operated with four employees and met its target of $1 million in sales. This year the company, now with 17 employees, including Mike Errecart 01, is on track to show its first profit with projected sales of $6 million.
By Elizabeth Covington 85
Elizabeth Covington is a freelance writer who lives in Ophir, Colorado.