BLOOMSBURG—A love of fly-fishing and a desire to improve the delivery of flies to anglers led to Bloomsburg University student Nathaniel Treichler, a sophomore business administration management major, to win the $10,000 first place prize in the sixth annual Student Business Plan Competition sponsored by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
Treichler has enjoyed the sport of fly-fishing for years and always wanted to start a business around his favorite activity. “I knew the business model had to be different,” says Treichler. “There are hundreds of fly fishing companies, but they focus on a one-time sell. My goal was to build a community of fly anglers who would purchase on a predictable, repetitive basis, which is how the subscription basis model started. After that, I simply designed The Fly Crate's Members' Club.”
“I am fortunate to have Dr. Steven Welch as a mentor and adviser, and he told me about the PASSHE competition near the end of 2016 Spring semester,” Treichler continued. “The business plan took me a week of writing for two hours every night. I had it crammed in my head for over a year, so when it came time to put it on paper, it came easily.”
The Fly Crate has been in business since February of 2016. After a slow start, it now has close to 2,000 customers.
“Starting a business from scratch is not easy,” Treichler says. “It is not something you learn through reading books or going online because all publications say the same thing, ‘it depends on your business,’ so you’re stuck.”
The annual Business Plan Competition is designed to provide student entrepreneurs a real-world opportunity to pitch their original business plans and to win funds to assist in the start-up of their businesses. Students from the 14 State System universities are invited to participate in the competition each year.
“The imagination and ingenuity on display certainly gives me confidence in our future, and a real sense of pride in our students, our faculty and our universities,” State System Board of Governors Chair Cynthia D. Shapira said during the awards ceremony held at the Dixon University Center.
“Before the announcement of the winners, I had my doubts whether I would or could win,” says Treichler. “I was confident that I would be in the top three, but you never know how the judges make their decisions and what criteria they were looking for. On the other hand, I was excited that I made it to the finals and had a chance to meet so many innovative people.”
“I plan to use the prize money to improve the ‘unboxing’ experience of The Fly Crate packaging and on internet marketing,” says Treichler.
Treichler is also proud that The Fly Crate is helping disabled veterans.
“When members purchase six flies, we donate one to Project Healing Waters,” Treichler says. “Project Healing Waters helps with the physical and mental rehabilitation of disabled active military, service personnel, and disabled veterans.
“With great determination, I want to become the largest monthly fly club in the U.S. with over 1,000 members,” says Treichler. “The Fly Crate will also expand our current operations into the fly tying market. At the same time, we'll be growing the online fly shop with a variety of innovative new fly designs and publishing content-rich articles. More importantly, I see The Fly Crate having a large voice in conservation and educating the public in preserving our natural resources for generations to come.”
Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 9,600 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.