A College Startup

September 07, 2017

RADD began in September of 2016 when a college student, Jamie Procter, made the realization that current hammocks sucked.

Many big brands were known for their fabric ripping in two in the middle of the night, leaving you falling to the ground or carabiners that would have to be replaced within the first week of use with $12 carabiners that looked big enough to tow a car out of a ditch. There was no quality or passion left in the hammock industry. This “saturated market” was just full of people buying the same products from China, slapping a logo on it, giving it a charitable twist or a fun story, and trying to make some money from it.

That was not what RADD was going to be. Our first product was a hammock called the Grom, whose name was drawn from surfer lingo meaning “little rad dude”.  We wanted to make a new name for the hammock industry, one that stood for quality and American craftsmanship and our first step towards that was with the Grom. That day, Jamie Procter and Sarah Fordin, two sophomores at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, made a vow to make high quality products that exemplified passionate and thoughtful design and manufacturing.

Hanging in a hammock while designing Made In USA outdoor gear

There was one small problem with the idea, however. Neither of them knew how to sew in order to start designing the very first prototypes. So, Jamie fished out his mother’s old sewing machine from the attic, read through the dusty manual, and taught himself how to sew on a table below his lofted dorm room bed.

RADD was started with a hand-me-down sewing machine under a dorm room bed

After months of designing, testing, and going back to the drawing board time and time again, the Grom and Gecko straps were finally created. The system was designed to be the easiest hammock on the market by integrating a bishop bag design and clinch buckle straps. High grade fabric and climbing grade carabiners were used to ensure safety and durability. This paired with months of product design and American craftsmanship, gave life to the Grom hammock and Gecko straps, the first products of RADD.

The Grom hammock  and Gecko straps by RADD

Designing the product seemed easy in comparison to growing a company from nothing. We had bootstrapped the entire prototyping process with our own money that we had saved from college jobs over the semester. We did not have millions to invest in advertisement and mass production.

That is where Kickstarter came in. For two months we began to work on getting our campaign together. We shot a video with equipment checked out from our campus, in the jogging trail behind our school with some friends who agreed to give us their time. We taught ourselves how to edit the video and asked our friends to record a composition piece for us. We wrote the entire campaign. On March 1st, we launched the campaign for the world to see and after a month of stress of whether we were going to succeed or not, we were fully funded.

We went on to compete in the Louis H. Stumberg Venture Competition, pitching to a series of judges, and securing a seed prize of $5,000 and a place in a summer accelerator program. We were pushed this entire summer to learn more about our company and where we saw it going. We began to learn what it took to become a Made in USA brand, the commitment, the price, and all of the hard work. It was like a lifestyle than just a brand. This we felt was necessary in order to ensure a quality product to our customers.

This week marks a year since our venture began. We are honored by how far we have gone and the support of our friends and family. We are always changing and growing, working harder and harder to bring quality, Made in USA products. We are not stopping at the Grom and Gecko straps; we are working on designing new and innovating products that can meet our expectations for quality, yet revolutionize the industry. This is only the first step. We plan on many more to come.

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