Meet The Outdoor Entrepreneurs: Freeloader

Meet The Outdoor Entrepreneurs: Freeloader

Welcome back to another edition of ‘Meet the Outdoor Entrepreneurs’. Last week I featured Lucy from Bundle Beds, who I first came across when she got in touch to tell me about their crowdfunding campaign. This week stars another exciting young business that has also made great use of crowdfunding to get off the ground. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a massive fan of our Freeloader child carrier. We received one nearly a year ago to review and it’s proven to be an important bit of kit in our outdoor family adventures. It really came into it’s own during our recent trip to Poland, where it fitted in our suitcase and enabled us all to see so much more of an amazing country.

The Freeloader meant that we didn’t have to miss out on the most spectacular bits of Poland!

I asked Nathan Jones, one of the creators of the Freeloader, to see if he would mind answering a few questions. Luckily he didn’t and gave a brilliant insight into creating an original product and starting a new business.

Nathan describes himself as a “father of three, married for 11 years, Lieutenant in the Austin Fire Department and Owner of The Freeloader Child Carrier. The Freeloader Child Carrier Company is coming up on it’s five-year anniversary! It was the first carrier ever built specifically for toddlers.”

Have you always loved the outdoors?

As far back as I could remember! I spent most of my time I wasn’t subject to schooling running around the outdoors. In central Texas we learn to love small hills and trees and call them grand and majestic. I moved out to California and was introduced to the Pacific Ocean and Redwoods and my love grew in another dimension entirely. Outside of being with my lovely wife and dear children there is nothing I would rather do than read a book under the shadow of a tree all alone.

The Freeloader has given so many families with young children the chance to get outside and explore

Where did the idea come from?

My partner called from a hike in Muir Woods with his four year old daughter and asked what I thought about a carrier that would hold a heavier weight. We had been developing a product for rock climbing at the time and abruptly changed course and focused on the child carrier.

How did your business start?

Initially we spent six months tinkering with different prototypes. We knew we wanted it to be portable, functional and lightweight but we also needed it to be much stronger than anything that was currently available. Once we felt that we had dialed in the prototype it was time to take it to the market. In order to facilitate this, we chose to run a crowd funding campaign. This proved to be both successful with raising money and awareness.

Proudest moment in business so far?

A child with a rare condition was hiked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. He was the youngest child to summit that mountain AND he had what others define as a disability. I believe for me and himself and others he redefined that word that day.

The guys behind the Freeloader are rightly proud of their creation and the impact it has had on families, particularly those with children with special needs and disabilities that have found places inaccessible in the past

What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Balancing my desire to grow the company with how I believe a good father should be with his children and a husband should be in relationship. It is easy to get to working and look up and realize two weeks have gone by. As far as over coming it…. I don’t know that I will ever will. I just recalibrate every day. Evaluate, modify, make adjustments if necessary and grow. And always remember the outdoor heals. While the intellectual mind may not remember “how” or “why” the outdoors will always level, balance, put greater things in perspective.

Anything you’d do differently if you started again?

I would have tapped the brakes a bit and got my company organized in a more efficient fashion. I was extremely excited to bring the product to market. I really felt that we had created a product that would allow for parents to take these monster adventures with their children. And we did! BUT by not slowing down a bit and ensuring that the foundation was strong I caused myself many, many hours of worry and clean up. To be more specific – I would have made sure my supply channel was down pat, my website/shopping cart was seamless, my social media was created and tested, etc. I fell prey to excitement and that is a sword that cuts both ways. On a very important level excitement feeds motivation and that creates the energy necessary for early mornings and late nights. On the other hand, like in this circumstance, it got me to a destination where I wasn’t fully prepared to be.

What is your best tip for budding entrepreneurs?

Anticipate failure. Not in the sense that you can avoid it. But know that failure is a constant component of trying. I don’t think it too far off to say that if you are not failing a lot you are not trying a lot. They are related.

Any business heroes? Anyone who has helped you along the way?

There are many, many resources available for small businesses in virtually every city around 
the country. It benefits cities to nurture small businesses and because of this they tend to. I have spent countless hours with these organizations (bless their hearts). They were mostly free or affordable. From the retired business men and women that want to work as mentors, to non-profits that help with accounting, business plans, website creation, etc. One must look for them but I have found that they are there.

Heroes – I recently finished a book about the Wright Brothers. What they were able to conceive and make available for all humanity is truly remarkable. I suppose they warrant that word – hero. One must remember that they were taken for fools for many years as they experimented with aviation. They were not initially even held in esteem in their home town. They just felt that flight was possible and continued to take the next step forward. They failed and failed and failed and now my 3 three-year- old has flown to Maine, California and Texas this Summer as a result of their efforts. That statement is not an exaggeration.

The Freeloader is an amazing bit of outdoor kit for families that love to explore

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Father of three, married for 16 years, and I am working on that next part… The first two I feel really good about. Though I do hear the ocean calling again.

What would be your one desert island luxury item?

The Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky (all six volumes)

A massive thanks to Nathan for giving such an amazing insight behind the scenes of the Freeloader, but also to give some fantastic advice to any budding entrepreneurs. If you would like to know more, head to the Freeloader website, or look them up on facebook or twitter.

If you would like to be featured in a future edition on ‘Meet the Outdoor Entrepreneurs’ please drop me an email at






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