In 2012, as a scrawny freshman at Central Michigan University, Dylan Banagis (co-founder) sat in on a Recreation 110 class as he watched a guest speaker roll into class on a single speed bicycle wearing a climbing helmet, a harness, a whitewater rafting PFD, and an 80 liter backpack packed to the brim. Unfortunately, there are pictures to prove it...
As you may have figured out, it was Jordan Bruursema (co-founder) speaking that day in class. Long story short, it was love at first sight. Dylan learned Jordan was a recreation professor at CMU and began going to his office hours to learn more about his zest for adventure he had talked about that day in class. He learned they both had a heart for Jesus and loved helping the less fortunate. As Dylan was majoring in Entrepreneurship and Outdoor Recreation at CMU, he eventually pitched the idea of creating a business with Jordan to promote outdoor recreation while giving back to those in need. After two years of hardcore coffee drinking, rock climbing breaks, leading trips for college students, and product research, the guys had come up with the idea behind The Wanderheart Project.
When deciding where they wanted to give back, Jordan and Dylan had an easy decision. With Jordan and his wife, Danielle, having lost a child to a congenital heart defect in 2013 (learn more here), the guys knew they wanted to give to families that were going through the same tragedy. That is why 11% of net profits go to families of a child born with a CHD. From there, they won the New Venture Competition at CMU and successfully funded their Kickstarter campaign, giving them enough startup cash to finally take the idea to market in 2016.
From there, it has been nothing but a learning process for the two. With many record months behind them, the company is continuing to grow and the guys are building the brand everyday. Their hope is to be a brand recognized for giving back to those in need and bettering the lives of those seeking positive change and responsible technology use.
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HOW IT STARTED
What started with a student and his professor, then turned into a bus full of gear, has turned into a nationwide movement to encourage others to live a life focused off the screen.
Two of the original four co-founders were blessed for 10 weeks with the life of their son, who was born with HLHS, the rarest form of CHD. His life has inspired us all to give back to heart families nationwide.
We have seen the most impact happening within the homes of the families we encounter. Our goals in the future include family & couples adventures, unplugged coaching courses, and massive giving to families affected by CHDs.