Vision: Outdoor Education Center. Location: Franklin, NH. Results: Outdoor New England.

Vision: Outdoor Education Center. Location: Franklin, NH. Results: Out

Blog | NH Small Business Development Center

Some potential small business owners come to NH SBDC with one business idea and it can be a pretty fuzzy one at that. One of the roles of the NH SBDC business advisor is to help them get clearer on what they want to do, and then guide them toward the resources that will help them do it.

With Marty Parichand, however, the advisor’s challenge was a little different.  This client had an abundance of ideas combined with an abundance of energy, and the background and skills to back up his ambitious plans.  

Marty laughs about it now, along with his NH SBDC business advisor Andrea O’Brien.

“We joke now that maybe my request (for advising help) got passed around amongst all the NH SBDC advisors with a note attached that said, ‘Do YOU want to take this guy?’”

Marty explained his vision for an outdoor education center that would offer classes in white water rafting and paddle boarding, while also renting out equipment, selling products in a retail store, and working with local schools to inspire young children to go outside.  And he wanted to do all that in the up-and-coming town of Franklin, New Hampshire, which is in the middle of a renaissance.

It’s not the kind of business proposal you’d expect from a guy with advanced degrees in electrical and computer engineering, and whose day job is working on Blackhawk helicopter projects In Connecticut.

Since graduating from UMass-Amherst, Marty says he’s worked really, really hard nights and weekends to “iron out the path” to get where he is today.  “I was a whitewater rafting guy in college and, before that, when I went rafting for the first time at age 16, we flipped a few times. That inspired me to become a guide. I believe I was built to have fun and to inspire fun, and to do things I’m passionate about,” he said.

He admits his business proposal was “diverse,” without a clear structure at first.

“I think Andrea was a little overwhelmed,” Marty says.  “It took a couple of meetings with her to get all my ideas on the table.”

But Andrea was the perfect advisor for Marty’s ambitious project, he says now.

“I’m so thankful it was Andrea,” Marty said. “She’s helped us in absolutely every facet of what we’re trying to build here. She has introduced us to the countless number of people we’re working with now, she’s helped connect us to marketing agencies, and she’s helped us write feasibility studies and economic impact statements.  We developed a business plan, and last year she helped us find interns who really got us to where we are today.”

In June of this year, Outdoor New England (ONE) held its grand opening and today the organization is offering stand-up paddleboard lessons, after-work boating lessons, classes in the basics of whitewater rafting, and a special class in doing yoga on a paddleboard out on the river. Meanwhile, Marty has spent most of the summer finishing up some serious renovations on what will be his retail space, in a formerly foreclosed downtown property.

ONE will be working closely with the Winnisquam School District and the Tilton School to offer classes designed to get students outside.  It might be a science class, but they’ll be out on the river in boats.

The enterprise is not yet full-time, but Marty knows that will happen eventually.  He says he’s working with some very passionate, talented people including his director of education who is a national champion in white water kayaking.  “This kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.  

Marty is very involved in the larger effort to revitalize Franklin’s downtown, which like so many New England towns faded fast with the closing of three mills there.  The revitalization effort is being spearheaded by Todd Workman of an organization called PermaCityLife, which has organized a GoFundMe campaign called “The Way Back to Franklin.”

Todd Workman and PermaCityLife offered Marty a reduced rate on mill space rent to help bring Outdoor New England to Franklin.  The revitalization effort is all about leveraging relationships and resources. That group is working on bringing a mountain bike track and a community park to the town. The park will feature a community garden and the first public whitewater park in the Northeast, and Marty is involved all along the way.

“I truly believe that the more people we help, the larger impact we’ll make and the more successful we’ll be,” Marty said.

Marty, who has used his own funds thus far, continues working with Andrea as his project grows.   The two recently finalized a business plan as part of a loan package for capital expenses and working capital, Marty explains.  

“Andrea feeds me contacts or people to call, people who can become strategic partners,” he said. “It’s just a great relationship. I honestly don’t think it could be any better.”