CLEVELAND, Ohio — Chad Porter wanted to be an inventor since he was in second grade. As a sophomore at The Ohio State University, he got his opportunity. He noticed that students were hauling fewer books and more technology around campus. That shift, he decided, required a change from the traditional, bulky backpack.
“The world is changing, the way we learn is changing,” says the Cleveland native and graduate of Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School. “With the need for technology, we need to innovate that daily accessory. I invented the first Wearpack in my dorm room my sophomore year.”
Porter describes the Wearpack as “a versatile detachable front handbag and backpack combined as one with an adjustable shoulder and waist bag.” It’s lighter and easier to carry.
After multiple drawings, the former engineering student set up shop in his room. “I learned how to use a sewing machine, sourced supplies on Amazon.com and began prototyping. It went through various transitions. I only sold 300 units my junior year.”
He has since trademarked the “Wearpack” name. And he created the “ChVd Justin” brand using his first and middle names to make, market and sell the new product.
After the first 300 sold, the business school student asked customers for feedback. Women wanted an adjustable Wearpack. In newer iterations, they got that, plus more padding, a water bottle holder and reflective material for nighttime visibility.
Using what he was learning in business classes, Porter defined his market as college students. To that began branding bags with university logos. So far, he has secured five, Division I university licenses – The Ohio State University, North Carolina A&T, Hampton University (Virginia), Miami University (Ohio), St. John’s University (New York)
“In the process of working with universities we furthered our innovation,” he notes. “We’ve developed clear bags for fans to take through security at games. We also sell a four-in-one stadium product.”
Creating and selling a product was just the beginning of building a business. During his college years, Porter says, “I started studying different founders and different products – Ralph Lauren and Under Armour — to learn what was needed to build those companies.”
Using their early examples, he notes, “I figured out how to make the business happen without having a lot of money.”
After graduating in January 2022, Porter moved back to Cleveland. He’s been developing and making the product as well as seeking funds. In October, he received $25,000 from the Cleveland FutureLAND President’s pitch competition. He’s planning to spend the money on inventory and marketing.
“It’s really exciting to see the possibilities of our brand,” he says.
Wearpacks are available in college campus bookstores and online at chvdjustin.com/the-wearpack. They will also be for sale at a holiday popup shop, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 23, at 2814 Detroit Avenue in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.
Check out the CHVD Justin YouTube channel for more information.
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