Student- and alumni-founded Shred was already working on a mobile app to connect folks with surfing, skiing, whitewater rafting, and other recreational adventures when COVID-19 hit.
Small- and medium-sized adventure business operators were finding it hard to reach young consumers—their primary audience—in a meaningful way and incentivize them to purchase their services, Shred cofounder Adam Faris, a current UO business student, explained.
“We found a huge disconnect in the way Millennials and Generation Z access and find cool, different things to do,” he said. “If it’s not convenient, efficient, and easy to use, they’re not going to use it.”
Shred allows users to find and book adventures based on location, preference, or personalized recommendations.
“With Shred, if you’re walking down the Santa Monica Pier with friends, and you see a surf spot that looks cool, you bring up our app, you can basically be in the water in five minutes,” said Faris.
“It came down to simplicity, which is actually really difficult to achieve in an app,” he said. “We wanted to make is super simple to pay, invite friends, and have a really personalized experience. I know it’s cliché, but we focus on people. This isn’t an app with 400,000 options. We want to create this so people can spend time out with their friends experiencing, rather than booking and researching.”
Faris cofounded Shred with Connor Bussey ’19, who was also a founding member of the student-run initiative Oregon Blockchain with Faris; Bryan Johnston, former vice president of global marketing for Nike Golf; and Lance Meyerink, a designer and marketer.
The group took cues from Johnston’s time at Burton and adidas, Johnston and Meyerink’s time at UFC, feedback from action sports companies and successful CEOs like Andrew Defrancesco.
Just as their venture was starting to grow, the onset of COVID-19 made outdoor group activities less tenable for the operators. So, the Shred team decided to focus all energy on supporting these small- and mid-size partners. How could Shred help these businesses during an era when folks are limited in how much time they can be outside adventuring?
The solution was to work with operators to promote gift card sales, special discounts, and personalized recommendations through Shred that could be redeemed for future activities while encouraging people to support those small businesses now. The effort even earned Shred a blurb in Tech Crunch, and Shred gets no monetary gain from its partners for these referrals. They’re just trying to be supportive in this time.
When Shred turns its focus back to the mobile application, it will operate on a subscription model, where operators pay a marketing fee to be included on the Shred app.
Although Shred started just seven months ago—in a completely different form—and finished its prototype app just a few weeks ago, it is already seeing success.
The original idea for the business was similar to rental scooters in big cities but with electric longboards on college campuses.
“That’s how the name Shred came about,” Faris said, “we quickly realized that plan was very capital-intensive, so we saw an opportunity to pivot and keep the original concept in our back pocket.”
They took that opportunity and started pursuing an app that could be applied to the half-trillion dollar adventure travel space, and the idea for Shred was born.
Nearly 70 adventure businesses in six different states have already partnered for the support initiative with more being added every day.
—AnneMarie Knepper-Sjoblom ’05, Lundquist College Communications