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Using Kickstarter to Escape the City

Mike studied biomedical engineering at Tufts University in Boston and stayed for a Masters in Engineering Management, taking on a fellowship to help pay for both. As a result of this fellowship, he locked down a “great job” for a stint of three years. I’ll let him explain.  

I say “great” because the pay is decent, the work is somewhat interesting, and many of my friends couldn’t find jobs at all.

However, I spend 8-10 hours every day sitting in a cubicle thinking and dreaming of playing outside.

It’s been a pretty difficult lifestyle to accept but it was the only way I could pay for my education at a top tier University.  If I had to do it again I would, but it is certainly not how I want to spend the rest of my life.

Like many of the people currently trawling Esc right now…

I’m a young, urban professional with an overall decent life but who is still itching for something more meaningful than a cubicle in the city.

I feel fortunate to have a well-paying job “especially in this economy” as they say, but all I really want to do is to have a meaningful job that allows me to spend as much time hiking and climbing in the mountains as possible.

A few days ago I took my first step towards this new lifestyle by launching a Kickstarter campaign.

This is what I look like every day:

This is what I wish I looked like every day:

Starting to Escape

Despite my fortunate employment situation, I’ve spent the past year looking for a way to escape the debt, cubicles, and yuppie lifestyle in the city that my fellowship has tied me to. It was around this time last year I came up with the concept for the Alpine Hammock and something told me that opportunity had arrived.

The idea was a weatherproof hammock designed for hiking and climbing in the mountains.  As “fast and light” backcountry travelers, my friends and I had tried most shelters on the market, but found that there was a gap. One-man tents were too bulky and heavy, bivy sacks were weatherproof but relatively uncomfortable, and hammocks were comfortable but not great for adverse weather conditions.

So we took the best design features from all of them and created a hammock with an integrated, zip-on bug net and rainfly that can be used in the trees as a hammock or on the ground as a bivy sack.

In attempt to take our project (and our escape attempt) to the next level, we decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign.

Using Kickstarter as an Escape Vehicle

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a crowd-sourced funding platform where you can post your creative project for people around the world to pledge money to.  As a backer of the project, you receive rewards associated with the project itself.

We took to Kickstarter because we’re recent college graduates who are still battling with college debt, both of us working jobs just to keep up with rent and our loan payments.

We saw Kickstarter as a not only a mechanism to bring our side project into the mainstream but also as the only realistic mechanism that would allow us to do we love: designing (and using) outdoor gear.

The outcome of our Kickstarter project is yet to be determined.  However, even if it fails, I think that we’ve gone far enough down the rabbit hole that there is no turning back. We’ve tasted what it feels like to work for our passion, and we’re going work our butts off to make it happen. If this is a conviction that you identify with, please check out our Kickstarter project and help spread the word.

Testing our Alpine Hammock in Bivy Sack Mode in Columbine Pass (12,000ft) in Colorado

You can follow our progress on Twitter, Facebook, and Kickstarter.

 

  • Adele

    Thanks for sharing your story Mike! I loved this line: “If I had to do it again I would, but it is certainly not how I want to spend the rest of my life.” Keep us posted on the campaign – your story reminded me of Mathew Powell’s; he spoke at our event last week and talked about having so many more hours in the day, now, to pursue his outdoor interests… check out his profile: http://escapethecity.org/heroes/628-matt-powell

    • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alpinehammock/the-alpine-hammock Mike

      Adele, thanks for forwarding his profile a lot. He reminds me a lot of my roommate (a paralegal for a corporate law firm who is an outdoorsman through and through). I’ll keep you posted on our campaign, thanks for the support!

  • Sarah

    This is great Mike. I think that Kickstarter is a great way to get your dreams started. Good luck with the project. I’ll be contributing!