About Mountain Troll's Founders, Matt Mayer and Mike Horn
Who's idea was it to start a merch company?
Why Are We Doing This?
While it seems self-explanatory (you want to sell some shirts, right?), the answer is actually a bit deeper. Allow me to explain.
This business is the culmination of about 2-3 years of early morning mountain bike rides and drives up for powder days. What does that mean? The two founding partners, Matt Mayer and Mike Horn, come from vastly different career paths but have come together for Mountain Troll.
You see, Matt has a day job as a physician at Children’s Hospital. Mike is a career pop culture merchandise producer. (For reader clarity, Mike is me and I am the author of this post. From here on out, I’ll go back to normal first-person speak…).
I moved to Colorado with my family in the summer of 2015. A lifelong Marylander, I had sold a business back in 2011 and that transaction saw us move from Maryland to San Diego. My time with the acquiring company didn’t last very long and I was back in the entrepreneurial life. Well, four years of SoCal later, my wife and I wanted a change. Like many here in the Front Range, we settled on Colorado.
About a year later, Matt and his family moved in a couple houses down the street. He had gotten hired at Children’s Hospital following almost a decade in Kansas City. Matt had done a ski bum year in Summit County before Med School, so Colorado was in his blood, too.
We met like most new neighbors. Casual get-to-know-you conversation over a drink. “Oh you mountain bike? Me, too.” “You’re a skier with an Epic Pass? Sweet!” That sort of thing. Our kids are teenagers and theirs are elementary but we still spend plenty of time together. Friday night dinners are so common, it’s almost unusual when it doesn’t happen.
Anyway, over the course of those bike rides and ski days, we would talk about all kinds of topics. Starting and running businesses among them. Lots of ideas, some of them actually good.
So, over the summer, Matt and his family are in Breck and go to see Isak, a bit of a regular stop for them, and the idea sparks: Why isn’t anyone making any merchandise for this guy? Matt texts me with this idea and the wheels start turning.
Since I’ve spent my entire 25+ year career in licensing, my first inclination was to go secure licensing rights. I was able to get an introduction to Thomas Dambo’s business team and we were off and running.
From the get-go, our idea wasn’t to build the next fashion brand. In fact, from a financial standpoint, the initial goal was (and still is as of this writing) to earn enough to cover our Epic Ski Passes. Rather, we wanted to provide a great experience and connect with the overall community that surrounds Isak--physically and metaphorically. We are beginning with apparel (that’s the common starting point for a merchandise program), but instead of just producing a bunch of t-shirts, we carefully created an original design (Matt’s wife Katie is a trained artist who taught fine art for more than a decade), printed with eco-friendly water-based inks on shirts made from recycled materials or organic cotton. In addition to collaborating with the artist (and paying royalties), we are also partnering with the National Forest Foundation and setting aside 1% of our revenue to their program. For every dollar donated, a tree is planted!
So, when you purchase an Isak shirt (or whatever else we produce down the road), you are not only showing your enthusiasm for that amazing sculpture, you are helping our environment, supporting a local business, and supporting both a local artist (Katie) and an international one (Thomas)!
Thanks for visiting and thanks for reading.
--Mike Horn, Co-Founder Mountain Troll LLC