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Inside the Story: Outdoor company full of college dropouts is making millions in Provo

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Inside the Story: Outdoor company full of college dropouts is making millions in Provo (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) A college dropout who is now running a multimillion dollar business in Provo says college is "overrated."

"I think the educational system is a little flawed right now," said Michael Whiteley, 28.

He runs the outdoor business, Bear Butt.

"I think being dumb creates success," he said.

Whiteley dropped out of college after two years and was jobless and living in a trailer with his pregnant wife.

"We didn't have any money," he said. "We were broke."

But now, he's running a business with a sales goal of $12 million this year.

"I have a purpose--I've been told--that I believe without a doubt," he said.

After dropping out, Whiteley started selling soap on Amazon, which led to selling hammocks.

In September of 2015 he started Bear Butt.

"It attracts people's eyes, it's powerful, and it's strong," he said of the company's unusual name.

But Whiteley doesn't call himself the president or CEO of the company.

"Somebody gave me the title of team leader, and that sounds better than CEO," he said.

At first they were lucky to sell 30 hammocks a day, but soon they got into the hundreds.

And on Cyber Monday they had record sales--about 2,700 hammocks in one day.

In the past two years, Bear Butt has done about $5 million in sales.

It hopes to break the $10 million mark this year with three new products--a sleeping bag, jacket, and backpack.

Bear Butt started a Kickstarter campaign for those products.

"Our goal is to be the largest outdoor company in the world, to take over the 'big boys' like North Face," Whiteley said.

About 95% of Bear Butt's team is under the age of 30, and 50% of them are college drop-outs.

All of the company's products are now being made in Provo. They used to be made in China, but Whiteley wanted to bring jobs to Utah.

For more information about the company, visit the Bear Butt website.


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