Cody Sudmeier’s leap into entrepreneurship happened at age 26 with a “Jerry Maguire moment.” Passed up for a promotion at the global consulting firm, Cody made the rash decision (his words), to leave his job and to launch Agility Solutions, a profit assurance consulting firm he co-founded with Sami Ibrahim.
Agility was twice recognized as Denver’s fastest-growing private company, expanding to 50 consultants under Cody’s leadership. he then sold his ownership in Agility in 2014 to focus on a new venture.
With co-founder, Jamie Regehr, Spur Experiences has grown the business into an international presence, including partnerships with Bed Bath & Beyond and The Knot.
M.R. Rangaswami: Spur initially started as a wedding registry for experiences. How has your customer base grown since then?
Cody Sudmeier: We saw weddings as a great focus initially because so many aspects of weddings are outdated. Modern couples don’t want to fill their cabinets, they’d prefer to fill their calendars. Many couples are getting married later in life at a time when they are more established. We like to say, “you already have two blenders, you don’t need a third.”
We knew we would expand beyond weddings, and we built our platform with this vision in mind. We have two additional channels. The second channel is experiential gifting beyond weddings. Customers can gift Mom a spa experience for Mother’s Day or buy friends an adventure for Christmas.
We call the third channel “Instant Book” or “Buy for Yourself”. We provide real-time availability for many of our experiences. We aim to be “the OpenTable of buying and booking an experience”. The Spur platform can help answer the interminable question “what do you want to do today?”.
M.R.: Spur’s slogan is “Collect Moments, Not Things”. Why do people seem to get more gratification out of spending money on experiences rather than traditional products?
Cody: The preeminent research on the topic was done by Psychology Professor Thomas Gilovich, from Cornell University, over a two-decade span. This included tests where the team would send surveys to consumers before, immediately after, and two weeks after making purchases. The study found that when we buy stuff, we feel a quick spike in happiness at the time of the purchase, but it quickly fades.
When we buy experiences, we feel happiness in three ways: anticipation, in the moment, and in our memories. For many people, the anticipation is the best part. We get excited when we are planning an upcoming trip. Next, we are happy when we do the experience. That may be excitement if we are zip-lining in Costa Rica, or relaxation if enjoying a spa day in San Francisco. Lastly, and unlike buying stuff, we continue to feel happiness when we remember the experience going forward. One of my favorite quotes from Gilovich is “we are the sum total of our experiences”.
M.R.: How have the last two years impacted the experience industry and what are you forecasting for the next two years?
Cody: The last two years have been absolutely brutal on the industry. Spur has roughly 2,000 operator partners such as food tours, rafting companies, and wineries. Due to Covid, roughly 15% of our partners went out of business.
However, we are seeing a huge pent-up demand for experiences. People have been stuck at home, dreaming up their next adventure. Prior to Covid, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis shared that spending on experience-related services was growing four times as fast as the spending on goods. We expect this to continue going forward.
And speaking of experiences – on behalf of the Sandhill team, we wish you a restful and healthy holiday season surrounded by people you love and moments of presence.
Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!
– M.R. Rangaswami, Co-Founder, Sandhill.com