In this episode, Josh interviews Chris Loidolt, founder of Hummingbird Hammocks, which currently holds the unofficial title of the lightest and most compact hammock on the market. Chris utilizes his experience as a retired professional Skydiver and parachute rigger to build hammocks from Parachute Industry Association certified parachutes. After amazing success from his Kickstarter campaign Chris and Hummingbird Hammocks press on, constantly evolving to minimize size and weight, while maximizing strength comfort
Hummingbird Hammock Highlights:
Lightest and most compact hammock AND hammock straps on the market (The lightest version weighing 5.2 Oz)
100% Made in America
All materials used in their production are military-certified
Hammocks made from Parachute Industry Association certified parachutes. (if they can stop someone from plummeting to their death, then they can cradle you inches from the ground like a pro.)
FAA certified reserve parachute material, uncoated 1.1 oz calendared ripstop nylon PIA-C-44379
For more specs and features
Episode Show notes:
How did Hummingbird Hammocks get started? [01:11]
Chris originally created his first hammock three and a half years ago after his hammock at the time ripped
Using materials and tools in his parachute rigging loft, he ended up creating a hammock that was much lighter and more compact than any he’d encounter before.
How did you transition from skydiving to Hummingbird Hammocks? [02:35]
“I went from being a professional skydiving instructor, to a coach, and parachute rigger; as well as, in my free time I did a lot of paragliding, base jumping, some scuba diving on the side[...]”
Are you still involved in Skydiving? [04:00]
Hummingbird Hammocks takes up most of Chris’s time however he’s experienced an incredible amount of jumps to make up for it.
When was your first jump? [05:00]
In less than five years Chris accumulated over 500 jumps
Getting back to Hummingbird Hammocks, how did you develop your product? [05:55]
After the kickstarter Hummingbird Hammocks went dark while Chris was transitioning from skydiving to Hummingbird Hammocks, full time.
“We started to look at it [Hummingbird Hammocks] as an ultra-light product and not just as a hammock made of parachute material”
Chris went through multiple iterations, constantly evolving techniques used to ensure a ultra-light product without compromising strength
How much time would you say you spend improving the products? [11:37]
“We don’t normally just sit down and have an improvement session…”
As of late, Chris and the Hummingbird Hammock team have been spending time developing new products and accessories for their hammocks
What's it like running a Kickstarter and getting it off the ground? [12:42]
“It’s really really easy to underbid what you’re trying to do, and that’s what happened to us”
What is something unique about you, one of your products, or your business. [13:36]
Hummingbird Hammocks uses actual P.I.A. certified parachute fabric, from the same parachutes that are saving people's’ lives everyday
Do you have a mentor that has guided you through starting Hummingbird Hammocks? [16:14]
Would you consider Hummingbird Hammocks a family business? [17:25]
While Chris is officially the only one involved full time with Hummingbird Hammocks, his family plays extremely active roles to help him run his business
Are there other people are involved in Hummingbird Hammocks? [18:57]
There are other third party companies involved in Hummingbird Hammocks but the majority of the business falls on Chris’s shoulders
How many hammocks and straps do you sell per year? [19:43]
Hummingbird currently sells between 1-2 hammocks a day.
What is your commitment to sustainable manufacturing is? [21:11]
“We’re committed to keeping things here and keeping people working for rates that they’re happy to work for, for a long time” - Chris Loidolt
What did you guys do in order to grow Hummingbird Hammocks and build exposure? [22:31]
“Really what got us going is the exposure that the mega hammock grabbed onto, right away.”
Brand recognition played a larger role in Hummingbird Hammocks momentum in its early stages.
What would you say the hardest part about starting your business has been so far? [24:39]
“We’ve been through 5 or 6 different manufactures at this point, just trying to find someone we like working with, has a reasonable rate, is just out to run a clean happy business like we are…”
What would you say is your greatest fear in regards to Hummingbird Hammocks? [25:19]
Being responsible for customers getting hurt while using their Hummingbird Hammocks is Chris’s greatest concern, however, he taken due diligence to ensure that this is a non-issue
What advice would you give to someone that wanted to start a business in action sports? [25:53]
Understanding production and constraints is key
Where do you see your business headed in the future? [26:25]
In the next year - Adding Tarps, bug nets, and additional hammocks to their repertoire, while continuing to tune and polish the company as a whole.
5 years - Developing other products: Hummingbird apparel, backpacks, underquilts, etc.
Is this your full-time job, or do you have another job outside of this? [27:16]
Chris is full-time with Hummingbird Hammocks but has started a side company, Loidolt Design, for web design and web hosting.
What did you go to school for? [28:55]
What you say is the best part about running Hummingbird Hammocks? [29:39]
“My favorite thing on a day to day basis is when I get to hear from people and they send us pictures of our hammocks in use...”
How can our listeners find more about Hummingbird Hammocks? [30:58]
They can check out all of our products and more about us at Hummingbirdhammocks.com.
Watch Chris and his family jump out of planes
Their Dealer Locator helps you find stores that carry Hummingbird Hammocks
Features and Specs of each hammock size
Check out their open source hardware page to get all the Hummingbird Hammock Designs