We had the good fortune of connecting with Jackson Harding and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jackson, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
I’ve always loved finding ways to make money while providing helpful services to my community. As an elementary school kid, I started pet sitting and shoveling, which turned into flipping bikes and reffing youth sports games. At the age of 13, I started my kayak rental business. Going into my 4th season renting kayaks and paddleboards, I’ve learned a lot about running a business and I look forward to more entrepreneurial pursuits. I’m going to be a senior in high school this fall and have started looking into colleges with good business schools. My goal is to graduate from college debt-free and begin working in finance. Ultimately, I’d love to run my own business in a great community with lots of outdoor recreation available.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I started Harding Kayak Rentals at the age of 13 after experiencing the thrill of kayaking at Horsetooth and other private lakes in Fort Collins. When I wanted to buy some, my mom told me I needed to figure out a way to pay for them. That sparked my idea for kayak rentals. My dad, who is a local high school teacher, was on board with the idea because he had extra time in the summer to help me get it off the ground. We split the cost of the original 4 kayaks and set-up an LLC. I learned how to create a website, set-up our Google profile and all of our social media. Over the first couple of years, we grew our inventory from 4 kayaks to over 20 kayaks and paddleboards. We had some challenges when trying to deliver to the government-owned bodies of water, like Horsetooth Reservoir. We had to modify our business model since we could no longer deliver to these public locations. Fortunately, we were able to continue our operations during the summer of 2020 admist the Covid pandemic. Our business did well because we could offer our customers a Covid-safe way to have fun outside with their friends and family. What sets us apart are our prices. All of our prices are per the day, $35 for a kayak, $40 for a paddleboard, and $65 for the tandem kayak. Most commonly our customers will pick up from us and take the kayaks/paddleboards to Horsetooth but we also have the ability to deliver to customer’s houses and private lakes. We are a family business and I enjoy spending time with my dad and brother in the summers.
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?
There are many great spots in Fort Collins. Obviously, I love the outdoors, so I’d suggest a day at Horsetooth being in the water or hiking Arthur’s Rock. If they like fishing, they could check out spots along the Poudre like Gateway Natural Area. Old Town has so many options for good food. My favorites are Big Al’s burgers followed by some Walrus ice cream. Another item on the itinerary would be getting some awesome breakfast burritos from Lupita’s or Big City Burrito and doing a sunrise hike up to Horsetooth Rock.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents. I could not have started this business without my dad, and I always go to my mom for advice about certain decisions that I have to make about the business.
Facebook: Harding Kayak Rentals