ROCT Outdoor Is off the Chain

by | Apr 2024

The Seyfert’s family dog, Josie, models a ROCT Outdoor collar and leash.

The Seyfert’s family dog, Josie, models a ROCT Outdoor collar and leash. Photo: Debra Bernard Photography

A high school project pivots into a successful outdoor dog gear company.

Entrepreneurship, a course offered at Plymouth’s Wayzata High School, focuses on teaching students the necessary steps to launch a business and operate it successfully. Students are encouraged to approach the project through the lens of solving a current problem in the market. Cole Seyfert, a senior at the time, stepped into the class in spring 2019 with an idea that soon became a family endeavor.

Coming from a family of avid campers and hunters, Cole wanted to address an issue central to outdoor living. Drawing from his subpar experiences with traditional hammocks, he set out to design a breathable and versatile alternative. Cole’s hammock included layers targeted at different uses, including a mesh layer to allow airflow and a parachute layer to create a windblock.

Armed with a unique and promising product, Cole and his family filed to create ROCT Outdoor LLC, named after the four sons in the family: Ryan, Owen, Cole and Tommy. But then COVID-19 hit, causing massive shipping delays, manufacturer issues and construction mistakes, which put the company on the precipice of failure. “The first shipment we received was at the end of July, so we had already passed the season to sell hammocks,” mother Deb Seyfert says.

It was critical the family business made a hard pivot. After reaching out to the manufacturer ROCT Outdoor enlisted for its initial endeavor, Deb learned it also produces dog collars and leashes. Over the next few weeks, she set to work designing dog gear. Since then, Deb continues to sketch fabric designs for dog collars, leashes and toys before working with graphic designers to apply her prints to fabric. “You really have to keep things fresh on a seasonal or annual basis,” Deb says.

In 2023, the company launched 30 new products, including natural rubber dog toys and unstuffed dog toys filled with crinkle paper. By October 2023, ROCT Outdoor already started on the development phase for 2024 with updated shapes, colors and materials as well as plans to introduce dog beds and waterproof “bumper” float toys to the collection.

“Product development is never ending,” Deb says. “We are constantly assessing the market, assessing what dogs like and putting together products that are beneficial to the dog and the owner.” And who better to test what dogs like than the Seyfert family’s own dog, a Hungarian Vizsla by the name of Josie.

In terms of the boys’ involvement, all four continue to have a hand in the company, whether it’s interning alongside Deb, contributing physical labor in the warehouse or learning to fulfill website sales. ROCT Outdoor continues to be the ultimate group project.

Deb and Cole return to Wayzata High School annually to speak at the entrepreneurship class, taught by David Chvojicek. It’s important to them that they highlight the reality of both a product that was born from that class, but also that plans don’t always go accordingly. “There’s more to be learned through failure, sometimes, than success,” Deb says.

You can find ROCT Outdoor online and in retailers across the country, including Ace Hardware and Scheels.

ROCT Outdoor
Facebook: ROCT Outdoor
Instagram: @roctoutdoor


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