This is YETI: The Beginning
It’s time to explore everything that is YETI. In order to do that, we have to start from the beginning. The story started in 2006 when YETI was founded by Roy and Ryan Seiders in their father’s garage in Dripping Springs, Texas, a town just west of Austin. But there’s a whole story to be shared before YETI even came about. Roy and Ryan grew up in Driftwood, Texas, and spent their entire childhood outdoors. Their father, Roger Seiders, was an entrepreneur himself, who designed a fishing rod epoxy. Little did the brothers know, they would get to see up close, how to be successful in their own businesses.
Ryan graduated from Texas A&M University in 1996 and Roy graduated from Texas Tech University in 2000. In 2005 both of the brothers had dabbled in other businesses leading up to the conception of YETI, a fishing-rod company for Ryan and a boat business for Roy. It was around the same time that the avid outdoorsmen became frustrated with the quality of the coolers available on the market and set out to build their own. When reading about their story, it almost seemed like the Seiders brothers were destined to fall upon YETI, based on their background in entrepreneurship and love for the outdoors. You can learn more about the Seider brothers below in the YETI short film, Made in Driftwood.
In 2008, the company began selling their flagship product, the Tundra, their original hard-shell cooler, through retailers such as Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. It was around this same time that the development of YETI’s grassroots marketing strategy started to take shape. When just starting out, they knew it was important to reach the right people and not just masses of people. One of the biggest reasons why YETI was so successful in building a brand is because they knew they had to work with real people, who had a real need for their products.
When doing my research for this article, I found several stories from when the company was still in its early stages of growth and development. Before YETI took on the story-telling persona that they have now for their videos, they did short clips of people and animals trying to destroy their coolers. The goal? To show how truly extraordinary a YETI cooler could be and why you needed to have one. Check out one of their early videos on their classic Tundra cooler going up against a 500-pound pro-wrestler and strong man. Their original grassroots strategy quickly changed YETI from an unknown brand into a household name for those that had a passion for the outdoors.
In February 2014, YETI introduced the 20 and 30-ounce Rambler Tumblers. This was a turning point for the company because they were able to start reaching people outside of the direct outdoorsman type while also bringing in new customers at a lower price point entry. Later that year, the company released their first soft cooler, The Hopper, hoping for a more versatile cooler that will still keep your beer and fish just as cold. These days YETI has five different variations of that soft cooler to choose from. You can view them all here.
It was 2015 when the tables really started turning for YETI. It was the first year the company closed $450 million in sales compared to the $5 million in sales in 2009. That means they had a substantial amount of growth in only 6 short years. Even with the record number in sales, the company continued releasing new products such as the Colster and the Rambler Lowball. And the new products didn’t stop there, by taking a look at their website, you can see that over the years they’ve added apparel, dog accessories, and much more.
In closing, the roots that YETI planted in its infancy have directly influenced and shaped the company you see today. YETI was built on the premise of designing an authentic product for the genuine outdoorsman. Today, their products can not only be found nationwide but also in several countries around the world and are still the leader in the insulated cooler industry. If you haven’t joined the YETI community, then this might just be your sign to do it.