Nate DeMars Curling

For thousands of athletes around the world, the 2018 Olympic Winter Games represent the ultimate stage on which to shine.

For Nate DeMars, the founder of Pursuit, a clothing start-up based in Columbus and rooted at Fisher, the Pyeongchang games are simply about making others look good.

Pursuit has partnered with the Team Shuster curling team, which represents the U.S. in South Korea, to provide the curlers with suits and apparel to wear prior to and at the games. DeMars (MBA ’11) talked about forging a partnership with the Minnesota-based team, the company’s “In Pursuit” campaign and valuable lessons he’s learned.

Aside from being a really cool — and timely — partnership, what other considerations (good or bad) went into teaming up with Team Shuster?

We love the stories of the milestone moments our customers chose to wear their Pursuit suits and we love telling those stories. It’s especially important for us to show our suits on customers who break the mold of what comes to mind with suits. Certainly we have customers who wear suits to work every day, but we have lots of non-traditional, suit-wearing customers, too.

Pursuit Olympics - DeMars tailor
Nate DeMars (MBA '11) (Photo courtesy of Pursuit)

Your personal network played a key role in getting Pursuit known among Team Shuster. As a successful entrepreneur, how important are these networks and what advice can you share on how to build, cultivate and utilize these networks?

The great thing about Pursuit is the space in the community it gives me to meet people who are also pushing themselves to great things. I find if you cultivate those types of relationships with no agenda, just a genuine interest/curiosity/desire to be supportive, amazing opportunities often spring up. When people know what you stand for as a person and as a company it breeds trust. That’s how this opportunity arose.

Viewers shouldn’t expect to see Pursuit-clad athletes – in shirt and tie — sweeping and cleaning the ice as they strive for gold medals, right? Given that so much marketing emphasis today is put on apparel worn during competition, is it hard to quantify or measure the success of a partnership like this and a campaign such as “In Pursuit,” when so much of it takes place behind the scenes?

The value in a partnership like this is the storytelling and content we can create! Our customers know Pursuit as the suit store for life’s biggest moments, and seeing that through stories of athletes, musicians, community leaders, entrepreneurs is what resonates. We aren’t banking on the partners’ social media network or the television viewers making this a worthwhile partnership — it’s that we can tell awesome stories to our own audience. Anything else is a bonus.

Now that you’ve launched a successful start-up, what insights, experiences or skills, that you picked up here at Fisher do you see helping you maintain and further grow Pursuit?

The business acumen that guides me in building Pursuit was solidified at Fisher. And the lessons I learned in strategy and marketing courses are the foundation of partnerships like this. We operate still today as a bootstrapped small business but have a long-term vision to be a national brand, and my experience at Fisher has prepared me to make that transition and believe it can be achieved!

As a native Minnesotan, how much time have you spent curling? Are you any good?

I hate to admit, but the only time I’ve curled in my life was while shooting the video and getting lessons from a four-time Olympian (John Shuster) and the 2018 U.S. Men’s Curling team. So that’s a fun story. I’m not good, yet. I blame it on the fitted suit pants. My fiancé, Melonia, was far more a natural than I!

Pursuit Olympics - Team Shuster
Members of the Team Shuster curling squad. (Photo courtesy of Pursuit)