IamA 22 year old Highschool dropout who pursued my dream to create my own company. I'm a mod of /r/hammocks and a long time redditor / traveler. The journey to where I am now has been one I'd like to share filled with adventures, homelessness and ...
I'm Matthew, founder of The Elevated Movement. I dropped out of high school at 16 and got my GED while working full-time, then went on to college for a semester before realizing that structured academics wasn't where I wanted to be.
I traveled on a cross country road trip to California, lived there for a year before coming back to travel the East Coast. I've been through periods of homelessness, staring over from scratch, and trial and error. It's been a very interesting time in the 6 years between leaving High school and where I am now. The journey is just beginning, and it feels good to be close to closing out the first major step in the process to creating a company that helps me pursue my passions.
The Elevated Movement creates lightweight camping hammocks. Maybe you've seen these kind of hammocks around. They are made of solid fabric as opposed to rope and have a gathered-end unlike the hammocks you see with the spreader-bars on the ends. The crux of this difference is that they are lighter and retain balance, meaning you won't flip over in them. Hammocks are becoming more popular as alternatives to tents for backpackers as set-ups can be more lightweight and generally more comfortable than traditional tent styles.
I've been hanging around and hiking with hammocks for a couple years and I wanted to innovate on what already existed and try to test the current business model.
Break the mold from current hammock manufacturers and create hammocks made 100% here in the USA and not outsource production
Make my hammocks from 100% recycled materials and have a focus on sustainability and eco-consciousness in each aspect of production. (I'm creating a hammock, something we use to enjoy nature with, it should be made in a way that compliments its use and not counter to it)
Match the current price point of hammocks on the market.
Build my business solely through word-of-mouth and never pay for advertising or facebook promotions, adwords campaigns etc. I knew that in a niche market word of mouth would be the most beneficial form of spreading word and I could focus those expenses on creating the product.
Create something unique and find a way to truly add value to my hammocks in addition to creating them sustainably in the USA.
So far I have accomplished my goals and hope to continue adding to them.
Every hammock we make is made from 100% recycled plastic. Most of this plastic comes from plastic bottles that are turned back into polyester filaments. We're helping reuse and reduce waste instead of creating our hammocks from virgin-synthetic fibers that require twice the amount of energy to create and contribute to our use of a non-renewable resource.
We plant 2 trees for every hammock that we sell. This isn't just a hippie ideal, you need two trees to hang a hammock with, and it's our way of being more active in the reshaping of global landscape. Recycling is aweosme, but going one step further and replacing waste with trees is even better.
All of our hammocks are made in North and South Carolina. Everything about our process is local, I tried to keep all facets of production as close as possible to reduce carbon footprint that comes from shipping. Eventually I'd love to have my own bio-diesel or hybrid trucks that can transport my freight between production facilities to further reduce my footprint, but being 100% recycled and planting trees is a great start.
Every hammock has its own design printed onto it. We're the only hammocks that have this. All other hammocks come in solid color arrangements. I wanted to give everyone a chance to choose something more than a color. We have over 10 artists right now that have created some amazing designs, along with designs from the Hubble Telescope and some other basic patterns that a more pleasing that a solid red, for example.
Each artist receives 30% of the profit from every hammock sold as a way to foster more art and help bring art to new places. Our hammocks are a new way for artists to get their work seen in more and more places. The world needs more art, and people need to spend more time in hammocks.
By offering custom designed hammocks as well, I've opened the door up to a possibility of having schools and companies use them for promotional materials, or as something fun to have around campus. Imagine working at your startup in a hammock instead of a desk-chair. Now we're talking.
I've grown my Facebook presence to 4,500+ followers without paying for any advertising or promotional posts. A lot of my fans have come from seeing the posts made by the artists that we work with posting about our project. Without our network of artists we wouldn't be where we are today.
It's been a consistent journey of education, research, risks and trial and error. If you're thinking about starting something of your own and have questions, throw em my way! I'm buy no means an expert in any of this but I feel like talking things out can be the best way to resolve things that linger in your head.
I hyperlinked to it above, but here is the official Kickstarter page if you want to check out the video and see more about the behind the scenes process.
I'll be around all day, it's rainy here in Boston and I've got work to do!
My friend just got really into Project M but I haven't played yet.
I don't play video games much anymore but I did like Marth and Roy on Melee back in the day. And F metaknight on Brawl.
I liked Roy and Marth too playwise - but competitively i could never use them well. Thanks for your answer ... i give you some more time re the 1000 words on upcoming :)
I'm not sure I was ever too competitive with them either. That well timed Counter move though, always brought a smile to my face. I need to get better at my combos though, I leave a lot to be desired as far as mechanics go.
How do your hammocks compare to ENO hammocks?
My hammocks are in between their single and double size hammocks. Roomy enough for two but not so much fabric that for one person it's overwhelming.
ENO was the first hammock I owned, great company. That said, I wanted to make hammocks that could be as functional but offer more design aspect and be better for the planet. They produce their hammocks in Indonesia and then it has to get shipped over the pacific before it arrives in stores here in the US. Mine are made from 100% recycled materials and made locally here in the states.
My hammocks + the straps to hang them weigh as much as an ENO hammock weighs by itself so you're saving over a pound of weight. I've had someone in the hammock that weighs 385 lbs so They are durable too.
They are made of different materials and I wouldn't say either is 'better' solely because they both keep you off the ground and hanging. It's just a matter of how you'd like to spend your money. I've tried to keep the hammocks in price point of the ENO hammocks to make that decision easier, though.
sir, I need to know where I can get some business hammocks
What kind of business hammocks are you thinking? Let me hear what you've got in mind we can make it happen.
I approve of this.
Things that are totally weird: finding Matt on Reddit and having no idea that he was on Reddit and wanting his hammocks.
Since I've been following your adventures on Facebook since you left CNU I want you to know I'm so proud of everything you've done! Your hammocks look amazing and comfortable and one day when I'm not broke I'll own one.
Hey mystery friend! Thank you! This is awesome :)
How are you getting qualified traffic?
Most of my traffic to my kickstarter is coming via facebook.
Traffic is less important than sales when it comes to business which is why I've chosen to not pursue paid advertising. I figure those who find out about my project via friends are far more likely to be vocal about what we are doing.
I've built out to 4.5K facebook audience and I'm hoping to be over 10K by end of summer.
What type of work did you do while working on starting the company? I'm assuming you needed something to pay the bills and I'm wondering if you have suggestions for best types of jobs, best hours to pull, and how to come to terms with doing boring supplementary work when striving for a dream.
I've always worked in restaurants so that's what I did mostly. You are free from 9-4 so you can effectively work 'full-time' on your start-up while making a good amount of money waiting tables.
I also play soccer and so I referee too. Refereeing pays extremely well and is a great way to get exercise while getting paid.
I'm a young man (18) and I always been interested in owning a business. Nothing has struck me though and I'm wondering.. How did you decided hammocks of all thing is what you would build your business upon?
I spend every day in a hammock, it's become an integral part of my life. If you do something long enough and have a creative energy you'll find ways to improve it, and when those options don't exist, it's your turn to create them yourself and bring them to the world.
I tried and failed at coming up with business ideas plenty of times before this all started to come together. I still have ideas in my head I want to pursue, too. Just give one a shot and learn from what did and didn't work, it takes trial and error for sure.
Edit: Also, as a word of recommendation, desiring to own a business is the wrong way to look at it. You should be looking to create a business. Anyone can own something, but creating it takes time and effort. If you are after the status of owning a business rather than the goal of creating something I think you'll have a bit harder time finding something that fits you.
Whats the cost to just buy a hammock?
On the Kickstarter right now its $113 shipping and straps to hang it included.
After the kickstarter we will have a couple different price tiers to accommodate for the artists.
Serious question..How often do you partake in recreational drug use? Good luck with the hammocks!
Serious answer.. not as often as you'd probably think.
I quit smoking cigarettes back in July and once I committed to that transition pretty much everything else followed suit. I used to play soccer competitively and I've wanted to get back into that, and the lack of stuff in my lungs and the clarity of mind has been a welcome change.
That said my favorite saying is, "Everything in moderation, including moderation."
Thanks for the reply. It was honestly to gauge my own stereotyped views of people I have seen hanging out in hammocks. It could be taken as an asshole comment, but I do appreciate the honest reply. In all seriousness good luck with the business!
As a long haired, bearded guy who makes hammocks, hikes, and plays soccer, I get that question more than you'd know.
Comes with the territory I guess, but it's just more motivation to be awesome.
I'll leave you with this gem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMhzss0kV-Q
Dude hell yeah ive talked to you on facebook! Its Michael J, then one with all the hammocks in my profile
Sorry I couldn't let you win the contest! Had to share the love to others! What up man!
Haha it's all good man, I understand! Thats sick though to hear your success story! as a 20 year old myself im still unsure what I wanna do in life but I know I just want to be happy
hammocks definitely help :) We should hang out sometime soon when we end up in the same region.
Well done on starting your own company, what's the profit in Hammocks?
How many units do you currently sell?
So far I have sold just over 300 hammocks in the first month of being 'open for business'. My profit margin is decent but less than my competitors due to being made locally and out of recycled materials. The printing of designs is a huge cost, but I wanted to keep a competitive price point so I sacrificed a bit in order to keep things level with the current market.
We'll see how it turns out, I'm hoping it makes good progress this first summer.
Thank You for responding, Best of Luck with it and keep your attitude that will be of great use no matter what happens with this particular venture
I've got some amazing friends around me and when times get rough I can always go hang up a hammock and remember why I started it all. Thank you for the well wishes.
Were your parents by your side supporting you and agreing to your decisions?
My parents and I get along very well now, but it did take a lot of effort to get to where we are. Not living together helped. We both wanted what was best, but had very different views on what that was. Once they saw that I wasn't hurting myself and I saw they weren't as stubborn as I thought they were we started to get along better. But it took ~3-y years of living on my own with little contact to reach that point. During this time I had some amazing friends who were there for me when I needed it, and when they weren't I was there for myself.
Will I be able to find these at reputable hammock dealers? Like "Put Your Butt There!" or "Hammock Hut?"
I'm a reputable hammock dealer!
No contracts with stores as of yet, we are just beginning and need to keep overhead low. Order on our website :)
Is it possible to masturbate in a hammock without falling out?
Are you right or left handed?
Whichever is closest at the time.
Because I live in Boston and we filmed in March when it is very cold and that tree is a very special tree.
It's on the Esplanade. Best tree there is!
I love the environmentally friendliness! This is such a good idea! Few questions here, though.
- What is your favorite place to hike?
- Do you have a patent? (I feel like the bigger brands would just take if if you don't)
I'd totally buy one, great idea from a passionate person.
EDIT: I think going around to colleges could really promote these. Just my 2c
My favorite place to hike of all time is the Kalalau Valley Tail in Kauai.
On the East Coast I'm a huge fan of the Appalachian Trail, hoping to do a through hike once the company gets going strong enough that I can hand reigns over to my COO for a few months while I hike.
I just did a hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with a friend and that was also amazing. First time hiking with crampons and that was an experience.
I dont have a patent, as the process of dyeing fabric cannot be patented, instead I've tried to align myself with the market. By working with the artist that we have and being the first to create hammocks like these I'm hoping we can establish a good foot hold in a niche industry and get some breathing room to expand.
This summer we will be on the Music Festival circuit heavily to promote the company and come fall I'm hoping to get these in a few select universities to start that process. Always looking for university reps, if you're interested shoot me a PM.
How will you address my needs for a hammock for the modern man on the go?
Our hammocks weigh ~18 ounces or ~0.51 KG so you can put one in your bag and not worry about being weighed down at all.
They come with their own stuff sack attached and set up super quickly so they are great for lunch breaks or impromptu reading sessions at a park. Way better than a blanket or a bench in my book.
I'm on the road constantly and my hammock is something I never leave home without.
how old is the company? how much capital did you initially invest before seeing a profit?
The company was formally registered in December 2013.
I've invested over 10K of my own money into it so far and we are jsut now finishing up the Kickstarter and I will be very happy if we start seeing a profit in a year's time. There is a lot of infrastructure I'd like to invest back into the company before I consider taking a payment.
In the meantime I'll continue to referee socccer to pay the bills!
Would you ever consider going on a show such as The Shark Tank?
I've heard that it's a good way to advertise to investors.
I'm not opposed to it but it's something I'm not actively pursuing. I've spent a lot of my life going it my own way and I feel like finding an investor will come around at the right time.
Do you mean not actively pursuing?
I accidentally a word. Thanks.
Have you gotten big chain stores to sell them yet? If so, which stores? Or any stores in Florida I could get one from? I prefer small businesses over large companies
Our hammocks are available through our website and in person. We do not have any deals with stores, nor am I particularly interested in doing that until I can secure my own production facilities to better regulate production volumes.
so about how many drugs have you done
Hey Matthew, one question. Why should one opt for your product instead of Ticket To The Moon? http://www.ticketothemoon.com/content/about-tttm
I am actually very fond of Ticket to the Moon hammocks and if you are looking for a parachute style hammock these are the folks I would recommend over any other brand. They began the parachute hammock shindig in Bali a few years back but due to marketing and branding other companies have become the more popular choice. I like to promote them whenever possible.
My hammocks aren't better they are different. If you want a parachute nylon hammock go with their selection. Good folks and good hammocks. If you want a hammock that weighs less, doesn't require knots to set up, and has more unique aesthetic aspects, my hammocks are the ones for you.
My hammocks weigh 18 ounces everything included, whereas most parachute nylon hammocks weigh 18 ounces without including the suspension (what you use to hang the hammock, rope, webbing, carbiners, etc)
And obviously there is a big difference between choosing solid colors and choosing a design picked form the Hubble Telescope or something that was crafted by an artist. We're giving you more chances to get something that really suits you.
We're also 100% recycled and made in the USA, so if you care about those sort of things we're making them a primary focus in our operation.
And finally, because capitalism says competition creates better products, so, help us out ;)
But really, can't say enough good things about TttM hammocks. More people should own hammocks and if you aren't interested in one of ours, that's where you should go for a recreational hammock.
Are you in supermarkets ? If no see second question.
Will you get an investor to help out with money and experience in getting your product yo market e.g. dragons den / shark tank type thing.
I'm not opposed to it, but I like being able to control the direction of my company and wouldn't want to compromise that. An investor may want to take things overseas to increase the bottom line.
Ah thank you for your answer and this ama.
Hope you do well and I see your business in the UK in the future. I know when I was younger I would have loved one of these but now I only like indoors haha.
If you have some good studs, you can get two eye-bolts at a department store for ~$3 USD and hang inside. I have one above my bed right now:)
Or, an investor will see the value of "USA made "on the box and be excited to work in a narrow niche with high margins.
That investor would likely steer the direction if your ship towards high quality luxury good as opposed to competing with the outdoor hammock market.
Perhaps that investor would tell you to concentrate on one product, hit milestones in your product niche, and grow organically until you start to saturate. Then, he would likely tell you to raise your prices to see what the market could bear.
Be careful lumping investors into a box. You never know who may be interested in investing.
All fair points, and that's why I said 'an investor' and 'may'.
I have no opposition to it, I'm also of the mind that an investor coming to me will already be self-selected to agree with my ideals rather than pitching to people hoping they agree and wouldn't want to change things I see as integral.
I'm happy to grow organically right now, but would welcome it if the right relationship came along.
Pretty cool stuff, Matthew. Seriously. My question is - what exactly was it about structured academics that didn't really suit you? What did?
"Never let school get in the way of your education" - Marky Mark Twain
I think I do better in one on one settings or in smaller groups. I had a big interest in Math and Science but got frustrated in classes that were larger. Some of it is selfishness and not wanting to be on someone else's time, some of it is needing to have flexibility in how I work.
I think forcing people to choose a physical location for 4 years is the worst thing about college. If I could have gone to a new city each of my 4 years I would have been way more on board with staying in school.
Makes sense. You do seem like the kind of person who always has to be on the move, keeping it varied - and I can totally relate to your having trouble with big groups.
One of my goals is to create a work space for young adults who don't do well in structured academia to give them access to one on one tutoring and mentors for creating their own paths. I would have really loved to have had an opportunity to try somethings out while having a support system rather than going it alone at first. It definitely catalyzes the growing process though.
I had some great teachers and I will be thankful for that always. Unfortunately the USA's system of stifling teacher's creativity in the classroom leaves some students at a loss.
The hammocks are produced in stages by other companies that we contract. All of the manufacturing takes place in South Carolina.
Eventually I'd like to own my own facility to produce everything in house but that is a very large cost to hurdle and one I hope to reach by beginning this way.
The fabric is milled in NC :)
How often did "My life sucks" cross your mind on your journey?
Surprisingly, I've always found it easier to adapt to a negative situation than to accept a positive.
There are times where I would feel like I was being worn down to my end though. Where I felt like I couldn't keep going the way my life was going, and that was a big catalyst for change.
How did you manage travelling, and homelessness? What did you do when you were out of money?
I worked at restaurants to make money while traveling and I lived considerably cheaper than most people so I could save some.
As far as traveling goes: I found a way to make my own tickets for a popular bus company in the USA so I could travel to any city along the east coast for free.
I did this for about 3 years and it saved me more money than I could feasibly tally. Without this I wouldn't have been able to travel much at all.
I think i speak (ask) for the majority of people here by asking you which is your prefered / go to version of Super Smash Bros and why?
Please could you also explain in around 1000 words what and why you are excited / interested about in respect of the upcoming 3DS and WiiU versions.
Many thanks for your time.
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