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Business Of The Month - PAST Outdoors

InnoClub's Business of the Month for October is PAST Outdoors. Read more about this successful business, and how to access



Founded in 2020 in Stanwell Park, where the ocean meets NSW's Illawarra escarpment, owner Dave Parker has established a business that combines his time in the ADF with his passion for the outdoors.

PAST Outdoors represents more than an affinity for nature; the company name reflects Dave's respect for previous generations of his family. Parker And Sons Trading (PAST) P/L draws inspiration from previous generations of entrepreneurs, including his grandfather, Arthur 'Digger' Parker, whose first business was making concrete water tanks.

Dave spent almost 20 years in the Australian Army, the majority of which was spent conducting and supporting Special Operations. This experience, where mission success and ultimately, peoples' lives, depended on the quality of equipment being used, underpins Dave's vision for his business.

Army Special Operations Veteran and owner of PAST Outdoors, Dave Parker

Every product designed and produced by PAST Outdoors is a result of user experience and Design Thinking practices. And recognising that experience alone does not guarantee business success, Dave completed an MBA after discharging from the Army.

The result is a dynamic and multi-channel retail operation. Growth and success has required a number of larger shopfronts, with the current store in Helensburgh, NSW serving as the base for both retail and online operations. Unlike other retailers who restrict their offering to products only, Dave leverages his experience and passion for the outdoors to offer guides and education as well.

PAST Outdoors also serves a growing number of international markets, supplying customers in NZ, the USA and other markets.

InnoClub Entrepreneur Program Manager, Tim Lewis, visited Dave at the PAST Outdoors store in Helensburgh to learn more about his business, and understand how his ADF experience has equipped him as a business owner.

An ultralight 6 person tipi, just one of the many innovative products in the PAST Outdoors range.

1. Tell us a little about PAST Outdoors; what was your motivation for starting the business?

Dave: PAST Outdors was established in July 2020 with the original goal of bringing people Ultralight Woodfired Heated Tipi style tents.

I designed, prototyped (with help from a few ex-Army mates) and brought into production our first product -the UltraLIght Six person Tipi (or UL6T). With production delays and disruption due to COVID 19, we recognised the benefits of online sales. We were also being bombarded with questions and requests for advice, so turned the negative of COVID 19 restrictions into a longer term opportunity, developing a services offering.

PAST Outdoors has now grown into a multi-faceted business, complete with full retail store, online shopping, and offering training on all products sold. We also create and supply custom products for wholesale customers, such as commercial Outdoors Guides and Outdoors Education operators.

2. What was the "moment" that led to starting the business?

Dave: I went to Uni as I exited the Army to do an MBA. During the course of our studies into entrepreneurship I decided that building a new business and working for myself was the path for me post my military career. After the MBA, which I completed during the 2020 Covid lockdowns, I started to make my own tipi as a hobby. I shared some content on social media and was asked by a few people if I would make one for them - the lightbulb went on that maybe this is the business for me.

3. Does your business retain any special connection the ADF / First Responder communities?

Dave: We are proud to to supply the Military, Police and Ambulance Services with food and equipment. My military network has strong ties into law enforcement and emergency services and I have a deep understanding of pain points and the purchasing journey in these organisations.

So I find it very rewarding to be able to present them solutions that enhance capability and add value to their missions. I understand how much they all rely on good equipment for mission success and I feel like part of that success.

I also speak to many people from within these communities who are thinking of getting out and starting a business and I enjoy providing advice on the process and education pathways to take.

4. What's your single biggest business challenge today?

Dave: Capital. The business has grown quick and scaling is my next challenge. So accessing capital or a business partner is the next wall I need to push through.

5. What's been your single biggest success?

Dave: Being able to commercialise my own product from inception to supplying the first pre-order customers and then build a brand and community from that.

6. What's a favourite mantra that keeps you going?

Dave: Learn a new skill everyday.

7. What 10 words of advice could you offer other Veterans / First Responders thinking of starting their own business?

Dave: You're a problem solver and risk taker - entrepreneurship is no different. Just do it.


PAST Outdoors is offering InnoClub subscribers a 10% discount on select items ... but hurry, the offer ends midnight 31st October 2022. Shop now at and apply discount code INNOCLUB22 at checkout.

We also love giving veteran businesses a free plug. Get in touch and tell us who we should be catching up with next month. And feel free to put your own business forward!

And don't forget to subscribe.

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