We had the good fortune of connecting with Shep Roeper and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shep, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
We know how beneficial being outdoors can be for people. We also know that not everyone has access to outdoor activities. We wanted to change that.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Having an idea for a business is one thing. Turning that idea into a career, along with employing others, is a dream come true. My co-founder, Kyle Burnette, and I had an idea in 2014, to get people outside and provide outdoor adventure opportunities, while creating an inclusive space, to see someone for their abilities rather than their disabilities. For many years, like many people with business ideas, this was a side hustle for us. Alongside working a full-time job, sometimes two jobs, we worked on our business idea. In our field of work, most people like to recreate on weekends and after the ‘9-5’ workday has ended. Having families, giving up this time wasn’t always easy. We knew what we were doing was important, and with the support of our families, we did as much as our ‘free time’ would allow.

2014 was spent with research, building community relationships, basic business foundation ideas, and legality. Setting up a non-profit isn’t quick or simple. Once approved by the IRS as a 501c3 we hit the ground running with fundraising, partnerships, and facilitation. Since then, it has been the same kind of stuff, but much more of everything. We have grown from leading two trips a summer (working with 15 people) to leading 150 trips a year (working with 2,500 people)

You can have a business idea, and most people have multiple ideas in their lifetime, but no matter what it is, there are challenging times. I truly believe that passion and support is what gets you through the challenging parts. You have to be passionate about what you’re doing, and you have to have support from others. We can’t do everything by ourselves, we need each other. (Plus, it’s more fun if we do things with people, than without!)

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a tough question, because one of the things I love most about Richmond VA is the depth in opportunities. When I mean depth, I mean we have handfuls (plural) of options for restaurants, breweries, and outdoor activities. We have an amazing park system that offers itself up to hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, boating, and relaxing. We have a diversity of restaurant food options, and over 30 brewery options.

Subject to change due to weather (and energy) I would start with a rafting trip down the James River, where you can enjoy class I-III+ rapids, and be home on your couch for a beer, or coffee, by noon! To find a river like that in the US, you need to drive to the mountains, and we are fortunate enough to have it in our back yard!

After our paddle, we would go to lunch at Sabi, one of my favorite Thai spots. Post lunch would involve some AC time and relax on the couch, followed up with a evening fishing adventure back on the James for some real life ‘River Monster’ Catfish. We would end the evening at a local brewery.

The list of adventures, restaurants, and watering holes is endless in Richmond!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to thank my Recreation, Parks, and Tourism professors at Radford University for being so passionate about what they taught and for them opening up a new world for me, showing me how therapeutic the outdoor space can be while also creating an inclusive environment with the groups and individuals we were working with. My time at RU was very special and I think about it often!

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