Zombies for the Win
Ryan Hogan didn’t set out to work with zombies. The active-duty Navy officer
candidate created an athletic apparel line called Warwear, targeting military personnel.
To help market his brand, he and friend Derrick Smith organized an adventure race,
similar to the popular Tough Mudder and the Warrior Dash races, but with a macabre
Their 5K obstacle race, called “Run For Your Lives,” challenges participants
to race through fields, woods and blood-tinted water, all while dodging zombies
trying to snatch flags from belts the runners wear. The full-day events, with entertainment
and food, have been overwhelmingly successful. Hogan’s Reed Street Productions’
first race in Baltimore in October 2011 drew more than 11,500 participants. Thirteen
races were scheduled across the country this year, with 40 planned for 2013.
With such impressive growth and killer financials — an estimated $15 million
in revenues this year — Reed Street Productions clinched the top prize in the Dingman
Center for Entrepreneurship’s seventh annual Cupid’s Cup business competition on
March 30. Cupid’s Cup is sponsored by Smith alumnus Kevin Plank, founder and CEO
of Under Armour, the Baltimore-based performance apparel company. The competition
was the highlight of the UMD Entrepreneurship Invitational, a showcase of the university’s
impact on venture creation and economic development in the region.
All this while Hogan is a still a full-time student on track to earn his degree
in management and marketing at the Smith School in Spring 2013. He’s also stationed
at George Washington University’s NROTC unit and has orders to head to flight school
in July. And to add to a full plate, Hogan and his wife welcomed their third child
in May. He says his biggest personal challenge is time management.
For his company, the biggest challenge is managing growth. His company already
has 30 employees and is growing so fast that they had to knock through walls to
triple their Baltimore office space.
“We can’t hire quick enough. As chairman of the board, I leave the day-to-day
operations up to the team to concentrate on finding the top talent to take us to
the next level,” he said. After all, Hogan still has to get to class.