U Experience facilitates bucket-list adventure
May 18, 2021
By Katie Aldridge
Have an adventure bucket-list, but not sure how to make them happen? U Experience is here to help.
U Experience focuses on bringing bucket-list adventures to life and developing related brand content and immersive experiences. It is an extension of experiential marketing company Events Done Right (EDR) Marketing which specializes in sport entertainment, festival settings, and face-to-face branding.
U Experience seeks to provide opportunities for individuals to travel and have once in a lifetime experiences. We recently caught up with co-founder Matt Dunn, a graduate of the winter 2021 cohort of Early Risers Academy, a 10-week business-building bootcamp powered by Launch Dayton partner Parallax Advanced Research. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
Launch Dayton: How did your company start?
Matt: Professionally speaking, it started right out of college. It served a variety of companies and nonprofits, specifically around high-level events such as the Superbowl, Final Four, and the Olympics. I continued to press into different opportunities and worked as an independent contractor for fifteen years. Then, back in 2016, my wife and I started our own agency.
Why this idea?
It derives from when I played baseball in college. I wasn’t able to move on professionally, but I continued to seek out opportunities where I could be around sports. I enjoyed being a part of those events, and I realized I could actually make money while doing something I enjoyed.
With respect to the U Experience brand, it was the belief that retirement is overly romanticized. More times than not, different variables naturally occur where retirement doesn’t look like what people envisioned. Younger generations would rather have an experience than a couple extra thousand dollars in their paycheck. I wanted to help people enjoy life in the process and to help them be a part of experiences that bring life to life moments.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
I’ve always had the itch – call it blessing or a curse. I see something and my mind goes to the approach of, “How do you monetize it?” I can recall when I was 11 or 12 years old – I grew up in Michigan – I would mow lawns in the summer and shovel snow off roofs in the winter. In college, I had candy vending machines that primarily paid for my food. I would service the machines a couple times a month and would pay for everything in quarters.
What identities do you bring to entrepreneurship that helped prepare you for this lifestyle?
I believe you should be as prepared as you can and should do your due diligence, but at a certain point, you have to say, “this is beyond my control, but what can I control?” Obviously, I can control my attitude, so let’s start with that and move forward. Another thing is that I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin. When you’re not being true to yourself, people recognize that. People respect you when you’re true to yourself.
What is the biggest barrier you’ve faced in entrepreneurship?
The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized the importance of persistence. I often parallel it to a game of poker. You’re playing with cards and sometimes you don’t have cards that are going to win. The reality is, you don’t have to win that round, you just have to live to see another day, so you would bet the minimum. If you’re in long enough, if you’re knowledgeable, you can make a calculated risk that when your opportunity comes, you can maybe go all in and reap the benefits from that. More so than that, it is the willingness to persevere even when all rejection is constant.
Why do you love what do you?
The part that I’ve really enjoyed the most is the opportunity to put food on the table for somebody else. A lot of the things we do are project-based. For a week or two or a month, we’ll hire 10 to 20 people for a project. When I’m putting my name on the check, it’s a humbling responsibility knowing that I ultimately helped their livelihood.
How was your experience with Early Risers Academy?
It was incredible. It really made me proud to be a part of Dayton and the small-business ecosystem as a whole. You realize that everybody is really champion each other, and everyone is cheering each other on to help each other win. Whether it is through an introduction to an individual or a resource, from a grand perspective, it makes you proud to be part of Dayton and to be part of the history of the native spirit that exists here.
How can the Launch Dayton community support you?
U Experience will be releasing our remaining trips for 2021. They are open to the public, so if anyone would like to travel, we greatly welcome that! Also, if there are any brands that would like to be part of those experiences, any introductions would be greatly appreciated, as well.