Not everyone can afford thousands of dollars of new camera gear every year, but Melissa Nui doesn’t want that to stand in the way of their creative ability; that's why she set out to start Parachut. Parachut is a “Netflix style” camera gear subscription service that lets you choose from the latest gear out on the market and keep it as long as you want. Within hours of launching she already had 500 people sign up for the service. Listen as she shares her story on American Dreams.
Alan: welcome back I'm here today with Melissa Nui she's the co-founder of parachut Melissa welcome today's show
Melissa: thank you so much for having me
Alan: so Melissa you've had a you've had a very unique path that has brought you up to where you are today for the listeners can you bring that up in in front of us
Melissa: ya absolutely well I you know I grew up the only girl aside brothers and so I have a very unique sense of realities because I feel that I've always been able to do anything that my brothers can whether that's be a quarterback in the NFL or or play sports or be a lawyer be you know be a doctor there's never been any time in my life that I never felt that I can't do something and so I that way I grew up with men that believed in me but when push came to shove I actually had to look at myself and say what is it that you really believe in yourself and so I played college volleyball at Washington State and I got involved with sports broadcast journalism and I was set on being the sideline NFL you know commentator sports commentator whatever and I got involved in TV and I got involved it I was at the locker room girl you know so they would send me out and say Melissa go and get some sound from Ichiro we need some Rodriguez and we need some Boone and I'd say oh my gosh I have no idea who these people are so I'd have to look them up real fast and make sure I got the right athlete in the locker room as they're half dressed so it was really interesting to learn about myself that I that I didn't want that you know I didn't care about being on TV and being you know kind of at that center stage you know need my ego stroked be in front of the TV I realized that I was happiest when I was with people and when I was serving people so I actually ended up doing sports marketing for the Seattle Seahawks for a few seasons so that's kind of my road from college to kind of where my career started but it was really interesting I'm a faith-based girl and I was constantly surrounded by people that money was everything to them whether they were athletes whether they I did a lot of modeling growing up and so your face in your body and what you owned and what you wore was so important to them and I became so involved with that and and it was it was tiring it was tiring to constantly think about how you looked in front of the camera or how you looked walking down the catwalk or or what you were driving or the Gucci shoes that you were wearing so much so that I became hardened and I became someone that I wouldn't let in you know let into my life because I was tough career girl I was you know I was so strong there's no one that could stop me in my career I made him I became really hardened it's how I calloused is kind of how how I called it and so it wasn't until I met my husband that I realized that vulnerability and you know the vulnerability and honesty with yourself and with your spouse and your significant other is where happiness is and so that's kind of a drawn out version
Alan: in a transition there when you were sports broadcast journalism Seattle SeaHawks eventually you moved on from that and you know what was the timing you met your soon-to-be husband when after you got married or what
Melissa: yeah you know what so being surrounded by all the athletes so I worked with the Seahawks for about five seasons and it was awesome it was so great I mean I think that we were able to do and take little kids it was their dream to meet the NFL quarterback and go down on the field at halftime and you know so it was a really great job and there was a lot of fulfillment there but the people that I worked with that's not where the fulfillment was you know they were all involved with the NFL because it was the NFL and you know so I I wanted something more and that's something more to me at that particular time with family and so where you're seeing me now as an entrepreneur and working directly with my spouse who is also my partner my business partner there was a good 10 year stint there where I did nothing but be a mom you know I was a mom and I was that's where my happiness is and it will always be but now that they go to school now it's looking at where my talents are now and I really had to dig deep to say what is my purpose now what can my husband and I do not just monetarily but to give back and have a purpose really so that's kind of the transition so there's a good 10-year stint there where it was I was a family girl and that's where my happiness was for sure
Alan: I'm visiting here today with Melissa Nui she is the co-founder of parachut and we'll be right back after these messages
Alan: welcome back and visiting here with Melissa Nui she's a co-founder at parachut and listen the first segment we're talking about how your early career was really sports journalism broadcasting and you worked in for a time with the Seattle Seahawks and then took a timeout to you mom and three kids and so what how did it evolve to where you have the re-entry back into the workforce the answer in the concepts of parachut
Melissa: ya know that's a good question obviously being a mom we always have our cameras out you know we're constantly taking pictures of our of our perfect children and wanting all these photos all around the house I absolutely fell in love with photography and this at this point in time my husband was you know running a bunch of marketing departments and traveling the world and I was I was just a mom there were times I'll be very truthful with you it was really difficult going from totaled career like totally career driven to now you're just going to be a mom like that honestly I thought that I would you know I could just wash my hands of a career and just walk away but I found that I missed I missed the fact that I had people saying WOW good job today you did a great job at the Seahawks game you did a good job on TV today where a kid doesn't look at you and say mom you did it good job you know that kids don't do that it is the most thankful it thankless wonderful job in the world it's hard and to this day it is the toughest job I've ever ever had because you love them so much and you want them to be successful but at this point of time my husband comes to me and he says I don't feel like I'm reaching my full potential and in this current job I don't think that I'm giving everything that I have and I said and I looked at em I said what is it that you want to give and you looked at me says why you have your skill set I have mine why are we not working together and not a lot of husband-and-wife teams can do that and that's when we decided with my background in photography I got to the point where I was doing some consulting for Nikon and doing different things for them and I saw where the industry was going to where not a lot of people can afford ten thousand dollars worth of gear anymore not everyone's going the moms aren't going to Costco and buying that three thousand dollar camera anymore so a lot of these manufacturers are kind of throwing their hands up saying what do we do and so that's where my husband as he's running his marketing departments in a corporate job and I'm at home you know wanting more gear and wanting better lenses and drones and all these cool techy toys that are coming out and we looked at each other and as we look at Airbnb and Rent the Runway and all of these you know everyone's so used to these access over ownership models that are coming out we said why is no one doing this for camera gear or other things like that so we got together and we sat at our kitchen table and with our marketing backgrounds were like okay we're just going to put up a website we're going to put together you know kind of a janky video we're going to put it out to the universe and just see what happens and what I'm not telling you is the step that it took for my husband to go from corporate job to being an entrepreneur that's something he can tell you but we really had to look at each other and look at each other in the eye and say it's really something we believe in do you believe in this and I looked at him and I said I will be so happy dirt broke as long as we are working together and we're happy end of story like that's it why would we work at a job when you're unhappy where we're doing something together and we're happy and we're creating we create families together we create business together so that's when we put up the website we launched it and within a couple hours we have 500 people signed up for the club we had wired and TechCrunch and g2 magazine and and all of these crazy PR press saying saying we want to do interviews and podcasts and come to all your warehouses in a grab Philip and I'm like what have be done and I'm in I'm in my pajamas at the kitchen table and I'm thinking okay we struck a nerve now what and that's when we realized that it's time to take the jump and the company is called parachut because my has been decided to take the jump and parachut was its soft landing so to speak so parachut is not only a club about access over ownership it's something that really is something close to the heart that has saved my husband he is happier because he took a chance and he had faith in himself and he and I look at each other every day and we have to stay grounded and we're running a company together and it is hard and it's fun and it's exciting it's challenging and we we thrive off that whereas when you're at a job that you don't love there's no space there you don't push yourself and when you're an entrepreneur or when you're you want to do something that you've never done before and you're scared oh my gosh do it pull the cord take the jump that's what we tell our girls like if you're scared right now to give your speech in your fifth grade class take the jump it's okay once you take that jump you know you'll find that you're pushing yourself and so anytime someone comes to us as a student or someone that wants to launch a business we look at it when we say oh my gosh do it we're behind you.
Alan: So Melissa I need to take a quick break and I'm visiting here today with Melissa Nui she is the co-founder of parachut when we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: welcome back and visiting here today with Melissa Nui she's a co-founder of parachut and Melissa in the previous segment as we're going through this talk about being able to develop the courage in the faith to step into the unknown your husband had a job in the corporate world your stay-at-home mom three kids and now you get together you thinking we're going to do this what was it like
Melissa: oh gosh what was it like it was there are times even now even after we've we've launched the business don't we look at each other some warnings and we say holy cow what are we doing what are we doing like literally every day there's total ups and total downs just like life and someone actually gave me some really great advice they said launching your own business is you know you look at the flat line of a pulse you know when you're looking in the hospital and you see the pulse that goes up and the pulse that goes down and running a business is exactly like that but if it wasn't going up and down it's not living and breathing and it's not alive and so that's exactly what it is when we first launched it was crazy up and all these people wanted in and then the downer was reality how do we do this and then you know then success comes and then another trial comes and then so it's it's like that every day so when those Downers come that's when we know that tomorrow is going to be an upper and so if you can stay emotionally on that flat line then we're doing okay and and not read into the emotion of the ups and downs of business but when we first decided to take that that jump it was scary it was so scary but now that we did it is so easy to look back and be like oh I'm so glad we did you know there's no regret there at all because we have faith in each other and we have most importantly faith in our abilities to do something great and have a greater purpose for ourselves and and to help others as well
Alan: so when you're with when you're looking at parachut how big do you see this company getting
Melissa: you know what we it's very easy to say it's going to it's going to just be huge you know you can get on on an Excel spreadsheet and be like calculations and this and this and growth and projections whereas we really just have to look at each other every day and take one step at a time because if when we buy into the vision that we have and that vision is great Alan that vision is it's a whole different way of consuming really because what parachut is is a new way of access over ownership you know you pay 149 a months or whatever your budget is and you get endless access to endless lots of camera gear and so you don't you don't have to you don't have to buy if you don't want to and so to us there's a crowd out there that just wants to try so many things and there's production companies and there's artists and companies and large companies that are a part of our club that this is this really matters to them and for us rather than saying how big we want it we ask each other how much do we want to matter to these people and how many people do we want to matter to meaning we as a company so we don't we don't have visions of taking over the world we have visions of helping a new way of consumption a new way of consumerism and just giving people more options that don't have the budget to go in and we start with camera gear you know who knows tomorrow wink wink it could be anything from cars to to bikes to things like that but right now we're focused solely on creative gear
Alan: the company is managed primarily through the website people come customers coming and signing up
Melissa: yes yep so right now there's a wait list can't keep up with the people that want in the club which is a good problem to have we think but we want them to come in faster and we want to help them these are creatives that want to create they are companies that need better content and we want to help them create we want to help them and so it's just how fast can we grow without really hurting ourselves
Alan: so when you're looking at different levels of equipment and obviously they're different types of customers was your target market
Melissa: yeah that's it that's a good question because we have two different target markets that are running the company you've got you know my husband that runs a company that sorry that ran marketing departments and you know that businesses have to keep up with all the consumption online of social media with Facebook and YouTube and you know so people want better equipment then you've got me that's the creative that just loves to take pictures right and what we're finding is that we targeted creatives but we're getting a lot more small businesses that are coming in and so we're actually targeting them because a lot of the creatives are small businesses as well so I don't know if that answers your questions but sometimes you aim for one and you're finding that you have to pivot a little bit because you're getting more of a reaction from another type of market
Alan: Do you rent drones
Melissa: yes do you like drones?
Alan: I have a drone yes
Melissa: I do we do we do we we let people we don't call it rent we call it check out yes because people can keep it as long as they want but yeah definitely drones that's a hot that's a hot one
Alan: so you get you have the end you do motion picture equipment too and sure right now it's a lot of it is camera and amateur photography driven because a lot of these these companies they don't need motion picture type equipment they just need good quality I mean the stuff that you guys have right here the beautiful quality of equipment that even hobbyists can condemn in as well so
Alan: so when you're at the way when you're you launched on what date
Melissa: a year ago this month
Alan: within the first week you had what 500
Melissa: first couple hours you had so many people interested in the club but you also had the naysayers that said it'll never work this company will never work people will steal there people ruin it they'll crash it they'll take it to Mexico and sell it they'll cancel their credit card so bla bla bla and we really couldn't listen to that we just couldn't because we knew that we we hit a spark of what people needed and we were willing to go through the tough times of making sure that fraud that we were protected that the other members of the club made sure that they had good gear that they were you know taking care of it but yeah we we've got a really good relationship we try to have a hands-on approach to each people that each person that comes into the club so that they feel that they're special they have they can text our parachut pros anytime and say hey I'm on a shoot what do you suggest or my my camera is being funky can you help me out so yeah we really try to cater and have that relationship and besides that anyone that's led into the club we make sure that they that we do some background on them
Alan: if person wants to contact parachut how would they go about doing it
Melissa: yeah absolutely so just go to our website Parachut.Co and its parachut, P-A-R-A-C-H-U-T.Co and you can contact us there we're on social media you can find us there but definitely write us an email if you're interested but you can definitely join the wait list there.