Interview with Mudroom Backpacks Founder David Deioma
If you've read the About Us page, you'll see that our vision is to build a global running community that embraces distinctive micro brands. To do so, we're dedicated to supporting the growth of smaller running companies, from those just getting started to those that have matured without becoming the next "corporate" brand.
As part of that mission, we are continuing a series in which we can share the stories of our Uncommon innovators with you. Get to know them better, learn more about their journeys as entrepreneurs and learn how you, The Uncommon Running community, have changed their businesses for the better.
This second edition provides us the opportunity to sit down with Mudroom Backpacks founder David Deioma to discuss his journey to found an uncommonly amazing commuter, fitness, and general storage / travel backpack company. Let's hear from David himself.
Uncommon Runner: David, tell us about your background?
David Deioma: My background is retail and outdoor equipment sales. In college, I worked at clothing and outdoor retail stores. Later, after teaching skiing in Utah, I designed and developed a ski bag that carries both boots and skis (or a snowboard) - to make travel to destination resorts easy and efficient, and to avoid baggage fees. The design was patented and licensed to DaKine, an outdoor accessories and bag company out of Oregon. Also, I spent time working in specialty retail and inventory management at Adventure 16 in San Diego, CA.
Uncommon Runner: What was the inspiration for Mudroom Backpacks?
David Deioma: From the ski bag (and years later), the product features were re-tooled into a backpack for carrying an extra pair of shoes separately from laptops and personal storage. Growing up in Ohio, there are mudrooms in homes for keeping dirty and wet clothing from being outside, from getting tracked into the rest of the house. The name was adopted for the backpack - separate footwear compartments built into the inside of the backpack, to keep dirt from sneakers or cycling shoes from getting onto items in the main compartment like laptops and personal items.
Uncommon Runner: What makes Mudroom Backpacks different from other running or fitness gear?
David Deioma: There are two features which set Mudroom Backpacks apart every other backpack out there:
1. Separate footwear compartments with exterior and interior access.
2. In the Mudroom Intermodal model, a rain-cover built-in to the carrying handle.
Exterior and interior access to the footwear compartment received a utility patent (USPTO 10,080,411) and are for both convenience and safety. With two access points to the footwear compartments, travelers may fit in a few extra items that may not fit otherwise.
A rain-cover stowed in the carrying handle is a patent-pending design which was originated and innovated by Mudroom Backpacks. The enclosed, stowed rain-cover keeps travelers ready for fast-moving rain storms. And there is a quick-stow pocket in the base of the pack for quickly re-stowing when coming in from a soaker.
Uncommon Runner: What is/was the most challenging part of starting your business? What would you do differently next time? What advice would you give someone trying to start their business?
David Deioma: The most challenging part of starting a business is getting the product name and information out to people who would like mudroom backpack product features. The design of the backpack makes commuting and travel with an extra pair of shoes easier. Mudroom is great for after school sports too. Literally, there have been customers say to me, "why have I not heard of this brand before?" The backpack space is crowded with larger companies with big marketing budgets, and those competitors have a louder voice in the market.
For doing something differently, I would heavily invest in time and resources into consumer interaction including events and expos. Personal selling cannot be stressed enough, both in-person and electronically. Being available to answer relevant questions could be the deciding factor on whether a looker becomes a buyer.
For someone starting a business, my advice is to be product and customer focused. Products must be innovative and incrementally better than existing options already available. Also, customers will tell the story of the product that works, and doesn't work. So, know your customers. Know their names and say hello the next time you see them. Ask them how the product is working, or not working. And if they would like to return the item, pay for shipping or go pick it up. Returns can be repurposed for other uses. But the customers must be made happy, and that is the bottom line.
Uncommon Runner: What is the best advice you have ever received?
David Deioma: Best advice - never stop trying. Be flexible, be versatile and be determined - but never stop trying. - Chris Seiwald
Uncommon Runner: What does the future look like for Mudroom Backpacks?
David Deioma: The future includes three models; the Quartable, the Intermodal and still yet to be un-named larger travel backpack. The models will have signature footwear compartments and innovative features like a rain-cover built-in to the carrying handle; a combination of features not available by other backpack brands. Mudroom is a backpack with a purpose; to make commuting and travel easy and efficient. We just need to get that message across to customers.
Uncommon Runner: Favorite spot to run or favorite race?
David Deioma: Favorite spot - Willow Creek, CA (photos below)
Favorite races - 1. Boston 1998 (2:56:18) 2. Boston 2018 (the marathon monsoon (3:20:57) 3. St. George Marathon
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Thank you for reading. Keep doing amazing things. And however you run, Run Uncommon.
The Uncommon Runner