Interview With Andrew Hamra CEO of Runnur
How Did You Get Started?
I got started about 4 years ago. I had a bad back and the doctor told me that I should not carry all of my every day items on my back. So I tried carrying some of the smaller items in my front pockets like my keys, my wallet, my phone and stuff.
But it made me feel clunky. I figured their had to be a better way to carry around all this stuff. I wasn’t going to rock a fanny pack and I had a messenger bag but noticed that a lot of the space went unused; especially if I wasn’t carrying my laptop. So I created something I could carry around all the time and I called it the Runnur.
Did You Make Blueprints?
The concept came pretty quickly. The layout and where things would best be placed was all pretty much decided during my first sketch of the Runnur. I think the sketch overall took me about 10 minutes.
However, there were a few modifications to the design once the product was made and shown to people like the carabineer or the pocket for the passport.
How Long Did It Take For This Idea To Become A Tangible Product?
The sketch sat in my closet for about a year or so before I actually did anything with it. When I finally found the time, I showed it to a friend of mine who was a business guy and we developed the prototype. Lucky for me, my friend just so happened to share an office with a guy who helps develop new ideas. So we went through the whole process of getting it manufactured in China and what not.
Did You Study Business Or Marketing In College?
I went to college in New Orleans. Tulane University, Go Pelicans! I studied Political Economy which is more of a macro view of business.
What I learned most from undergrad is how to have a good time. Which is really important. When you go to music shows, trade shows and conventions you have to have a good time. If you’re not having a good time their not having a good time. This kind of mantra is definitely beginning to become apart of my companies culture.
Do You Manage Runnur Fulltime?
Yup, I work on Runnur full time.
What Was The Most Useful Thing You Learned That Helped You Start This Company?
I opened up a sandal store on the beach in Austin, after I graduated college. In fact, I was the first person to sell sandals online even before Zappos. I would go to trade shows a lot because I had to purchase for the store. And I learned a lot while I ran that business. I saw the highs and the lows.
And I eventually closed the doors on the store after about 5 years. And I learned a lot of invaluable lessons. I made a lot of mistakes but I definitely figured out what not to do.
What Was The Reaction From Your Peers, Family And Customers, When You First Created The Runnur?
The general reaction from almost everyone was like “Oh wow, that’s pretty cool. That would be great for Festivals or traveling or hiking.” So, I would say the overall response was really positive. I could tell that people liked the design a lot for its functionality.
When Did You Know You Had Something?
Well, I went to college with the guys who created Bonnaroo. Them and I are old buddies. So, I contacted them and told’em about how people were saying Runnur would be great for festivals. He liked the idea but we weren’t able to get a Bonnaroo branded Runnur in time. So instead, he gave us a discounted booth and we spent the weekend at Bonnaroo. We sold about 100; which allowed me and the friends who came with me to break even. We covered the cost of the booth, gas, and our hotel stay. I think seeing the reaction of people at Bonnarro really solidify the idea that I had something people really liked.
If You Could Give An Up & Coming Entrepreneur Advice What Would You Tell Him Or Her?
I have heard a lot of people say to me “Oh I had that same idea.” So, what I would tell a young entrepreneur is don’t just have an idea.
You have to follow-through. The idea is easy. The story really gets long when you have to get things prototype, brand your company, create a name, understand your demographics, product distribution, marketing plan and so on. Having a concept is simple. But growing the idea and company takes real work and determination.
Also, don’t be discouraged. I’m 37; this probably wouldn’t be happening if I were freshman in college. I had to experience my first business failure to really be where I am today.
Maximillian Garland| Bright Futura Columnist