Most debt-swamped, recent college grads aren’t attempting any projects that require them to fundraise $40,000 in 30 days. However this is exactly what Michael Brown, a Hampden native, and Ryan Stolp are doing.
Tufts engineering alumni, Brown and Stolp, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to produce and market the Alpine Hammock they have invented.
The Alpine Hammock is a one-man shelter that can hang as a hammock in trees, and features a bug net and rain fly that can be zipped up to protect the camper from the elements. For areas without trees the Alpine Hammock can be laid down and used as a bivy sack.
“We took the best features of both bivy sacks and hammocks and put them together into one fast, light, protective and easy-to-use outdoor shelter,” Brown said.
Brown and Stolp have the ideas and the motivation to follow through with the project; however, the money to fund the Alpine Hammock is an issue.
“As recent college graduates, our student loans limit our ability to fund the project ourselves,” says Stolp.
For this reason they have launched a Kickstarter project, where the general public can pledge money to help them reach their goal of $40,000 in 30 days.
If enough people donate, and they reach their goal by Aug. 30, the team will get all the funds donated. However, with Kickstarter it is truly all or nothing. If Brown and Stolp don’t reach their goal then none of the backers have to pay up.
The money earned from this campaign will help them buy materials, do extensive product testing, pay legal fees, and set up a website where they can sell the Alpine Hammock.
They have rewards for people who decide to donate to their project. These rewards could be anything from a thank you shout-out via social media, to a prototype of the Alpine Hammock.
Brown grew up in Hampden and often went camping and hiking in Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park. But he says it was when he was at Tufts and when he joined the Tufts Mountain Club that he began to take the outdoors lifestyle more seriously.
“It was the community within the mountain club that exposed me to alpine-style hiking and climbing; trying to travel as fast and light as possible in the mountains. So I was surrounded by a great group of smart outdoorsy people who were always trying to safely push their limits in the outdoors,” Brown said.
Brown and Stolp met in the Tufts alumni group called VICE, or Vertical Ice Climbing Enthusiasts. Brown said that he and Stolp were always discussing the gear they wanted, especially camping or climbing gear they wanted but which hadn’t been invented yet.
“What we really wanted was a solution that only required us to buy one piece of gear to cover pretty much every environment. We asked ourselves, ‘Why isn’t there a product that can be fast, lightweight and comfortable?’ This is how we came up with the idea for the Alpine Hammock,” Brown said.
Raising the money for this project is only one hurdle that Brown and Stolp have to deal with. A patent is pending on their hammock and they plan to file for a full utility patent in the near future.
Product distribution is also another concern and they are currently looking into potential manufacturers.
“Personally, I’d feel successful if I hiked up on someone in camp and they were enjoying a backcountry adventure, hanging in an Alpine Hammock,” Stolp said.
You can check out the progress, learn more and donate at www.kickstarter.com/projects/alpinehammock/the-alpine-hammock. You can also follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheAlpineHammock?ref=ts and Twitter @AlpineHammock.