Collaboration anchors MDD student Michael Clark’s work as both a designer and an entrepreneur. From branding and image design to his involvement with the University of Utah’s Foundry, a collaborative attitude has been integral to the development of Michael’s working process. He has designed a functioning business and coherent visual language to represent it by utilizing these skills.
This month Michael will be launching MTN RDY [Mountain Ready], an online platform offering accessible training resources to eager mountain sport athletes by connecting them with outdoor professionals. MTN RDY’s trainers work collaboratively with clients, tailoring a training program to meet the specific needs of each unique athlete. The platform facilitates improved athletic performance in the individual’s chosen sport. Programs are designed for skiers, cyclists and runners. Salt Lake City’s vibrant outdoor community, and the University’s proximity to the Wasatch mountains made the MDD program the perfect environment to support the creation of MTN RDY.
MTN RDY is unified by Michael’s willingness to get other people involved, to mobilize the diverse skillsets of his partners in an effort to answer a straightforward inquiry:
“How can we design a better online training platform for people wanting to be more fit and ready for the mountain sports they are so passionate about?” This is the question that Michael and his business partner Sean Cotty asked themselves as they explored the lack of appropriate training for people focused on mountain sports. According to Michael “MTN RDY was born after asking this question.”
Both Michael and Sean had worked as group and personal fitness coaches for a number of years prior to developing MTN RDY. They noticed a significant volume of athletes whose interests were underserved absent an accessible training framework geared towards outdoor sports. They perceived a current, accelerated interest in fitness training. Based on these observations they predicted that the concept would meet with a receptive audience, and it did.
They then began formulating the concrete actions required to realize the project. Michael explains an initial step: “About a year ago we started seeking out professional outdoor sport coaches to bring onto the team and help us put together a robust, quality training platform for our clients.” Michael’s academic training in the MDD program and Sean’s interest in entrepreneurship were natural complements to each other. Their skills in both design and business overlapped to a significant extent. By collaborating in the context of a joint enterprise they were able to draw out their unique strengths.
Michael notes, “As a designer, I have spent a lot of my time developing a MTN RDY design language that is consistent from our logo, to social media to our training app. Sean has taken the lead on business development, partnerships and getting the infrastructure built.”
The pair found invaluable support in Rob Wuebker, an assistant professor who teaches Design Entrepreneurship for the MDD program. Rob is connected with the Foundry, an entrepreneurial institute in Lassonde studios. The foundry coaches accepted students through the process of launching a real business. According to Michael this connection “Has been key in helping us build our network, find new team members and refine our ideas. Not only has the Foundry been essential to helping us form our business model, but it has also helped us develop the organization that we rely on to run all of our operations.”
Michael sums it up succinctly when asked about the significance of design to the evolution of MTN RDY: “Design and Design thinking is everything. This whole business started out of empathy for others like ourselves who couldn’t find any good online resources for outdoor sport training.”
The image that accompanies this story further illustrates the high value placed on collaboration by the MDD program. The image features Gray, one of Michael’s design classmates. It was shot by Cameron, a fellow student in the program and was finished with the text and logo that Michael designed. The open environment of MDD studios encourages students to learn and grow with each other, to contribute to each other’s work, and support the projects and businesses that unfold.
Michael is already in the process of planning the next phase of MTN RDY: “If the online training platform takes off we will then start to introduce MTN RDY training apparel to our community of athletes. Currently I am waiting for some sample training shorts to come back from a factory…The design never stops…I love it.”
Image: Michael Clark
Author: Sayde Price