Finding Ourself

When I think back to 2013, when this entire idea came to life, I never would have guessed that my personal identity would have so meshed together with SWAYY. 

The past month has come and gone in such a blur that I am having difficulty elaborating on the bullet points that lay etched into my notebook beside me. As I type out this sentence I am trying to decide how professional or personal I should get, so why not share a bit of both?

I am dedicating this post to all of my peers and fellow Millennials who feel the pressure to make a stamp on this earth. So here is to you - push on and overcome self.

First, what a fantastic phase we are finding ourselves in right now. Just a few weeks ago we won second place in the "Will This Float?" competition that was featured during the startup week in Chattanooga, TN. What a blast! This has lead financing deal that could potentially make the SWAYY legacy grow wings, BIG WINGS!  

We have been working with a company called Precision Aerodynamics. Don't be fooled by their website - even though it may be ancient, these guys put out some serious quality and the best part is that they are located right in our backyard of Dunlap, TN. We are set to start manufacturing with them as soon as a few other pieces fall into the place concerning our patents and the financing round.

We have also been working with a company downtown Chattanooga called the Lighthouse CFO Group. Hats off to these guys as they have been assisting in the gathering and creating of a few key projections that will allow us to float under the torrential rain of investor questioning. Seriously though, they are literally walking me through this process and to be honest, I have never felt so underprepared and ignorant on the subject of finances. However! I am determined to learn and always fall forward. More to come on this...

A bit of bad-ish news. The potential manufacturing deal that seemed so glorious and hopeful just a few weeks ago is now a giant flop. Turns out the manufacturers that were interested in selling various products under our brand just signed a contract with the largest sports shoe brand in China, so with little hesitation, we were dropped to the floor. No worries! I am happy to have learned a little more about Asian manufacturing and what to look for. As a bit of a side note, these experiences have changed me in one fundamental way that has helped me to be more successful: I now know that whenever a great opportunity comes along that I should always seize it! However, I have also learned the importance of keeping a level head just in case the opportunity doesn't work out. 

In other news, and I literally mean the news, we were featured on News Channel 9 Chattanooga for their "Made in Our Hometown" segment. Long story short, I got a facebook message a number of weeks ago from the producers asking if they could do a story on SWAYY. Of course, I said yes and I am super thrilled with how they portrayed us. If you get a chance you should check out the video in the link directly above. 

One part of my job that I really enjoy is the opportunities that crop up that I wouldn't have suspected. Over the past month, I have been asked to speak three times for Fruition Lab, 1 Million Cups, and an Economic Development forum panel downtown Chattanooga. See below for a little glimpse of what each is about:

Fruition Lab is a "conference that brings together experienced entrepreneurs from across all industries and business backgrounds to give anyone the opportunity to learn from some of the country’s leading startups and the go-getters behind them." ...After writing that little snippet from their site, I am questioning why they asked me to speak, but nevertheless, they did, and it was a fantastic experience! I learned so much. Being able to reflect on my past experiences brought so much value to perspective going forward. 
The Chattanooga Development forum was a short panel discussion where I was able to tell the story of SWAYY and how I thought Chattanooga was doing in helping us grow. It was a fun talk and lead me to be able to network with the head treasurer of Unum, the CFO of Erlanger Children's Hospital, and other key leaders in the area. I will update on those meetings later! #networkingworks
1 Million Cups  is a national organization with hundreds of chapters across the United States. Each week on Wednesday mornings, one or two early-stage businesses present their companies to their communities. I was asked to speak at the meeting on November 8th, and it went so well. This event allowed me to expand my thoughts on why I am building SWAYY and how it brings me personal joy. I was able to connect with several key individuals with valuable outdoor industry experience, and I am stoked to see where this leads.

Well, that pretty much wraps things up. As I move forward on this journey I am constantly finding out a little more about myself and what I am capable (and not capable) of. I could write pages and pages about my experiences, and while I truly want to, I am saving that for my book that I just started writing. Yep, a book. Stay tuned.

Finally, for the sake of fun. Here is a list of awesome things that are in the works:

- SWAYY Eira is set to launch in Mid December... This is the "half the weight, half the size" of the Premus, fully insulated hammock. Keep an eye out - the Eira comes with the hammock, straps, and a rain fly! Look for it in backpacker magazine. (fingers crossed) 

- We are now on the first page of Google when you search "Insulated Hammock". Go ahead, try it out! I have searched it a few times just for kicks and giggles.

- We have office space! We will be working out of the sixth and seventh floors of the Edney Innovation Center downtown Chattanooga. Shoot me an email and come say hey! Address: 1100 Market St, Chattanooga, TN 37402

- The SWAYY nSync (rain fly) just released on the website (unofficially). No, it's not a play on the nineties boy band. This system is super awesome and keeps you out of the elements. Forget the tent, bag, and pad and Keep an eye out for the video!

- We are working on hiring soon! Do you know anyone with really awesome marketing skills? Financial planning skills? Send them our way!

Thanks to everyone who has been growing with us. Each day I am lifted up with the awesome stories from our customers, soon to be customers and those who just care about our mission.

Word of advice for today: Your biggest competition is yourself.

Encounter More

 

 

 

 

Will This Float?

Time flies when you are having a good time. A lot has been happening in the past month. . . 

First things first - SWAYY is among the eight finalists that have been selected to share their pitch at The Company Lab's annual "Will This Float?" competition! How awesome is that? The event will take place Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. at River Place, located at 2 W. Aquarium Way during the first day of Startup Week in Chattanooga, TN. You guys should totally come out and show your support! Click here for tickets. 

We have one main goal for this competition buzz – to get people talking.  Word-of-mouth benefits a small company like SWAYY in literally dozens of ways:

1. It helps us generate sales

2. It widens our networks. It is amazing how so many people will knock on our door to see how they can help when they hear about us, our products, and our visions. 

3. It puts us in front of potential investors. If I am being completely honest, we are not to the level of "sustainability" that I would like, but I hear this is relatively normal for startups - I want to live outside of those norms. Bring on the sustainable growth!

4. It helps me (Seth) learn how to better pitch the mission and vision of SWAYY. Public speaking is a huge thing for leaders in the world of business. Being able to cast a vision through verbal pictures is huge: it is what inspires those on your team to get up and make decisions. 

5. It's super fun. I love talking. My mom sometimes calls me a "Chatty Kathy", but let's be real, who doesn't like talking about their passions and experiences?

6. It's therapy.  Being able to express to others your past, present, and future goals helps bring in confidence and encouragement from others, and that is ok! The day of the pitch is the 16th of October. The day of the pitch is the 16th of October, which happens to also be the anniversary of my father’s passing. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to spend the day! 

7. It's educational. I can say with confidence that I will make mistakes on stage, that is a no-brainer. What I am thrilled about is that I can learn from those mistakes, showing me how to make the next pitch even more impactful.

I have started negotiation talks with several retailers in the Chattanooga area this week. This past Friday I meet with the buyers of RockCreek. Our main goal was to explore the retail opportunities and to find out what it takes to get a product on the shelves. Our meeting went very well. We were able to secure official invitations to the many events that RockCreek hosts in the TN area. Also, we will be revisiting in the coming months about the opportunity to test some of our products in their stores. More to come…   The retailers that we are most excited about so far are RockCreekL2 Outside, and RAK Outfitters. Keep an eye out for updates on all of these retailers. 

Finally, I have been talking closely with a potential manufacturing company overseas. They have the capacity to help us out, unlike the other six manufactures we have been wrestling with. The most exciting part is that they specialize in making backpacks. This is a great opportunity because they willing to work out a synergistic deal where SWAYY will sell some of their backpacking packs for a royalty in exchange for solid deals for the production of our hammocks. The bottom line is that we need to find a way to grow in production without going bankrupt or sacrificing obscene amounts of quality - this may just be the big break we need.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on right now. I can’t wait to see where all of this activity leads our company, and I look forward to sharing more exciting news with you in the future! Keep an eye out across our social media platforms and we will keep you updated. And remember…

Encounter More

Mistakes with Progress | Pipelines and Visions

Mistakes And Progress

Chances are that if you are like me, you can't tell the future. For about two weeks now, I have been setting dates for our official launch, only to be knocked back down in my seat of patience as we iron out all of the kinks and wrinkles. A painfully necessary? I think it is... You can take it from me when I say that launching a product/company, and all that it entails, is anything but predictable. One thing I learned from working in construction is that one must always account for 10% waste of on-the-job materials. This principle has smacked me in the face a few times, and I am here today to tell you that yes, I have re-learned this important lesson. But honestly, it's has been a fantastic journey of learning, and I really wouldn't have it any other way.

Pipelines: A few things we are getting done.

- Photo Shoot: We are working on finishing up our photo shoot for our various colors! I am so excited to share it with you guys soon.

- China & US Patent: We have decided to wait on the Chinese Patent filing for a while. We have begun the process of filing for a US Utility Patent for the US markets. 

- Promo Shoot: Our Promo video is in the storyboarding phase right now - it's a video that should allow you a deeper perspective on what gets us excited. 

- Manufacturing in the US: We went to talk to the Mayor of Jellico, TN to pursue any possible incentives for opening up a manufacturing plant in the town. The town has a population of a little over 2,000, and it needs help. We figured, why not? It's all about giving back! This is also a great opportunity for use to keep quality high and our operations close to home.

- SEO Optimization: We are working closely with Accelerated Digital Media to find out the best solutions for our Search Engine Optimization. Key take away thus far: I have lots of learning to do!

- 2nd Product: Our second, lighter, warmer, all-in-one hammock is in the pipeline and we are hoping to launch by December 1st! Keep your eyes out, it's going to be another exciting release.

Vision(s)

I wake up each morning with one goal: get as much done today as I can, and try to pass on some kindness to who ever might receive it. As I think about these two goals I realize more and more of how SWAYY is just a projection of my life vision. We are a company that makes a product, and believe me when I say we are after a profit, but we are solely in business to 1) make a killer product that allows people the freedom to hammock camp all year – and 2) pass on good to who ever might receive it. What is our dream? To help.

Over the past two years, I have been incredibly blessed to spend time with the people of Papua, Indonesia in amazing ways. This past year I spent the better part of three weeks in the upper mountainous regions of Wamena, a city on the island of Papua. Wamena is the worlds largest city that is supported completely by air - no boat, no road, no anything. The reason I was spending time their was to help with a local Papuan mission to build jungle school structures for the Papuans who happened to live there. With the average Papuan making approximately 26,692 Ruphia per day (Approx. $2 USD a day), it can be very difficult to fund such projects.

The year before I spent a similar amount of time in the "interior" of Papua to help build a jungle schools and chapels with the same mission. We flew a PC-6 for 1 hour before landing on an up-hill-graded air strip followed by a 1-2 hour hike to the village of choice, Hobotongo. While there we set up a small camp, built an aluminum frame structure, and simply got to know the people of the mountains. A lot can be said though our languages differed widely.

It is through these types of missions that SWAYY is supporting community development. We are in the early stages of our business, so it is very hard to nail down percentages of sales that we will donate, but I can assure you, we will be donating!

But always remember...

Encounter More

 

 

Almost time...

Hey there guys,

So a lot has happened in the past year. We have went from almost closing up shop, to gaining a partnership with Primaloft®, taking actual pre-orders, acquiring Insulahmmock designs, bringing on some new investors, filing for International Chinese Patents, and myself getting married (Whoop!), but more on those things later.

I am going to do my best to update this company blog about once a week as a way to keep you fellow hangers up-to-date on what's happening with SWAYY, and what our plans are, so stayed dialed in! By the way, feel free to ALWAYS make suggestions and comments - I love interaction.  

First off, I just want to welcome the entire team from Insulhammock Designs to the SWAYY family as we work to fold our two brands into a master artisan hammock company. Stephen and Anya are the two main team members that are now apart of what we are working on, and we are so happy to have them be apart of our clan - a team of goofballs and outdoor enthusiasts.

The past year has been crazy. Honestly, I have been blessed to get more done in the past 3 weeks with SWAYY than I have accomplished over the past 3 years since starting this journey, at least that is what it feels like. I don't fully blame my "5 year education" from university... But... I am happy to announce that I have finished my college career with two degrees with a staggering GPA of 3.23! Why am I sharing this info? Because it doesn't take 4.0 to start a great company. Not slamming the book worms out there, because it does take a lot to excel at school, I just prefer a different route - making market disruptions and impacts now!

Ok, now to the good stuff. I will keep this as short'n sweet as possible, so hold on tight. Here is what we got done in the past 3 weeks:

- Chinese International Patent filed

- Primaloft® Brand Partnership 

- First round of capital from a private investor - ACCEPTED

- Finished the design for the first fully insulated hammock under the SWAYY brand: SWAYY® Premus™ (Next product is in R&D now! More to come soon.)

- Got our Federal Tax ID number... Yay taxes...  -__- 

- A whole lot of other things we can't talk about yet. More to come soon!

- Beginning talks with Lonut (our Romanian contact in Africa) about producing some hammocks in Malawi for the benefit of children looking to earn their way through school. Keep this in thought and prayers, I would love to get these things made by the hands of some awesome guys and girls who are looking to provide for their lives, their families, and much more.

As you can see, we have been super busy and we can't wait to make this dream become a reality! With each passing day we can see growth and excitement, on our end, as well as yours. Remember, anyone can make a product, and I am certain SWAYY is making great ones, but the reason WHY we are doing WHAT we are doing isn't because we want to make a quick buck. We are doing what we are doing to help others save a buck on the ridiculously over priced gear, and to empower others through the various projects we donate to like AMM and the jungle mission projects of Papua, Indonesia. 

Pictures are soon to come! We are taking orders now, and they are going fast, so if you want your fully-insulated camping hammock soon, go now and order one! All product details will be available soon, with pictures! ;)

Thank you for all the support guys, and apologies for this scatterbrained message. Let me know if you need anything, like ever, I am serious.

And remember...

Encounter More,

 

- Seth Hill, Founder and CEO of SWAYY

(Ad)Venture(s) for our Capital

So, it's been a while. Today marks the 2 year anniversary of when SWAYY® began in the hearts of our founders. Back in those days we truly had no idea what we were doing. In fact, all we really knew was that we were going to get this hammock built, one way or another. And as I reflect back on those times, all I can truly say are these 3 words: "We Are Blessed". We're blessed of the vast amounts of knowledge that this experience has brought us, the exuberant contacts we have met, and the journeys it has brought us all to love - all of these things are indeed, blessings. 

Next week SWAYY® will be presenting before a venture capital firm in Phoenix, AZ and it is going to be awesome! We are truly looking forward to this momentous moment, either we get funded or not because like we have said many times before, " It is the experience that is of value." So, as we move into this next phase of funding, we would like to encourage all of our believers out there that SWAYY®, one way or another, will come to market, and it will change the game of camping and hammocking forever. 

Oh... And did we mention we are now securing stateside manufacturing!? Hmm... 

We will keep you posted!

SWAYY, Encounter More ®

- Seth Hill CEO of SWAYY® Insulated Hammocks, LLC

So... What's the story?

Ideas are funny things, and SWAYY® is no exception to this.

The late Tennessee summer of 2013 marks the true birth of SWAYY® when few close buddies and I (Seth) all decided that before we would send it off to different corners of the globe, we would have one last bro sesh of hammock camping on the beautiful Ocoee Lake in Eastern Tennessee. So we stuffed our hammocks, filled our packs, and before we knew it we are all stowed away in our canoes headed for our little island on the lake… And that’s where things got funny.

All growing up I’ve heard that “the bridge ices before the road” because of wind swiftly passing under and over it which saps all its heat, and this trip shed new light on what that truly meant. CBS (Cold Butt Syndrome) was a real issue. And it was at that very moment that the idea for SWAYY® was born. 

And the rest, well, it’s now our history and brightly lit future.

In the following posts you’ll see bits and pieces of our journey, and we hope you like it, because we want you to join along side of us to help create new encounters for all. 

SWAYY, Encounter More ®

- Seth Hill CEO of SWAYY® Insulated Hammocks, LLC