How does an apparel company inspired from the Swiss Alps and NASA get their start? It all started when two friends, Michael Markesbery and Max Squire, decided to go backpacking throughout Europe. One of their favorite experiences in the trip was climbing the tallest mountain in the northeast Swiss Alps-- Säntis. Yet, the trek up the mountain sparked more than just their sense of adventure—it sparked the innovation of outdoor apparel.The journey of climbing Säntis exposed a problem that they (and millions of other hikers) experience. In order to stay warm, Michael and Max were layering themselves with thick bulky winter clothing, which in turn reduced their range of motion.
Upon arriving back to the United States, one of the founders received a NASA scholarship, which provided a solution to the problem they experienced in Europe — aerogel. While the material was already being used to insulate space shuttles and some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, it proved to be the perfect material match—breathable and warm, but thin.
With some aerogel research and prototyping, a call to a clothing designer in Milan Italy, and a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, the outerwear company successfully made their entrance into the world of apparel!
At JA, we love stories of entrepreneurial success! Want to learn more about how we harness students’ passion and help them turn it into a future? Check out JA Be Entrepreneurial, a program that challenges students to start an entrepreneurial venture while still in high school!
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To listen to the Podcast startup adventure of Lukla, click HERE