Meet two Traverse City brothers who make LED lights for outdoor sports gear—the perfect addition to your snowboard, bike, longboard and soon, stand-up paddleboard. We caught up with the young entrepreneurs and learned how they got started on their business.
It was an exceptionally average night of snowboarding at Mt. Holiday in Traverse City that inspired a big idea from Dakota Porter, 18, and his brother Garret, 15. “Everything just kind of looked really ordinary; white lights on white snow,” remembers Dakota. “So we thought, We have to shake things up a bit.” The brothers brainstormed a way to put a string of LED lights around the rim of their snowboards—and the reaction they got when they hit the slopes with the lightshow convinced them that the concept could be more than just for kicks. “We couldn’t even snowboard down the hill without being stopped and asked by someone where we got this,” Garret says.
After a successful online crowdfunding campaign and two years of research and development, the Porter brothers’ new company, 45 Parallel Lights, launched Action Glow: a line of LED kits to deck out bikes, skis, longboards and snowboards. The first kits sold out in 48 hours. Plans are in the works to expand into fully waterproof kits in 2014, so you’ll be able to festoon your canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard. (Brilliant safety idea for paddles at dusk?) But for now, Dakota, a student at Northwestern Michigan College, and Garret, a sophomore at Traverse City Central, are focusing on balancing their new success with other obligations, like school. “Basically, right when Garret gets out at 3 o’clock, we head over to the shop, crack down, and start makin’ kits,” Dakota says. 45lights.com.