Last spring, before graduating in the Class of 2022, Brady Collard, Colby Richardson, Kevin Gamboa, and Abigail Tzunún founded the Rover Mobile Tree Stands and Hunting Equipment project, earning first place in the Small Business Division won. After much support and encouragement from family, faculty and friends; Collard and Richardson decided to take this school project to something much bigger and started Rover Hunting Equipment. This fall, they were one of eight startups selected for the University of Arkansas’ Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) to support them with training, mentoring, and financial funding.
GORP is an incubator focused on outdoor recreation businesses and is one of three community-focused business incubator programs governed by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI), housed within The Collaborative, according to a U o A press release.
The 12-week program offers workshop training, team mentoring and up to $15,000 in Non-Dilutive Seed Funding per company – funding that does not require the owner to give up any of the company’s equity.
In an interview with Richardson, he enthusiastically shared that he and Collard will be working toward the ultimate goal of developing a functional prototype design so they can test and patent their startup’s design and successfully launch this business. Besides founding this startup, their main purpose is to provide an all-in-one mobile tree stand system that takes hunters from carry-on to harvest. This startup brings innovation to the table for hunters who have not been offered any other mobile tree stand design in the last 20 years.
Richardson says, “It was a new experience juggling full-time jobs and this new business, but overall it was worth it [him] and Brady to see how far they’ve come.” He explained that he currently lives in Northwest Arkansas and in Collard, Texas, so it takes a lot of continuous effort and trying to pursue that dream together by getting out work remotely. Collard and Richardson are currently in the process of hiring an intern for the new phase the company is about to begin.
Although their teammates Gamboa and Tzunún are no longer part of this new phase of their startup, they are still very good friends. The co-founders try to meet once a month to share their progress with their former teammates. “I hope we can make them proud,” Richardson said.
Richardson and Collard are excited and excited about this great opportunity and have very high expectations for what the future holds for them as they embark on this journey into the world of entrepreneurship and innovation.
Photos courtesy of Brandon Howard