A rock climbing startup from the inaugural cohort of the University of Arkansas’ Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) has launched its first product line.
Lacaida Ropes is a veteran and Latino-owned direct-to-consumer business that makes ropes with custom designs and meter markings. Founder Pedro Somarriba said the company’s website went live June 30, and he’s also set up an Instagram store. Growing the business with regional and national retail partners is a long-term goal.
“We are going to expand our [sales] channels,” Somarriba said. “The question is where and which one first.”
Lacaida uses three contract manufacturers (two in the U.S. and one in China) for raw materials. The products are cut to length, marked with patented marking, packaged and sold.
Somarriba, 34, is a senior merchant for Walmart in the planters and birds category. He moved with his family from North Carolina to Northwest Arkansas in 2018 to take a finance job with the retailer. The company promoted him to a buyer a year later.
In 2021 he took a logistics and procurement job at tool manufacturer Marshalltown in Fayetteville. He returned to Walmart this past June.
Somarriba said putting those experiences together gave him the entrepreneurial bug, and he focused his efforts on a activity he’s passionate about — rock climbing.
“I did a standard market analysis that I learned in business school and ultimately arrived on rope,” said Somarriba, who earned an MBA in 2018 from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Somarriba is the first generation of his family born in the U.S. His parents relocated from Nicaragua during the Sandinista uprising in the 1970s. He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Florida, then served six years in the U.S. Army Special Forces, mainly in Okinawa, Japan.
The UA’s 12-week GORP incubator seeded Lacaida with up to $15,000 in non-dilutive funding. The company also has an angel investor from Somarriba’s personal network.