BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
During his childhood, Jeremy Piper loved camping. Now, the 2016 Clarkston High School graduate is in business making that joy available to others as a student entrepreneur at the University of Tennessee.
Working alongside senior classmates Dalton Maddox, Christopher Mikulec, and Michael Richards, the quartet created Coonhound Camping in 2016, a business providing no-hassle campsite setups. Customers choose a location and campsite specifications, and the Coonhound team makes it happen. They began the business as first-year students at the Knoxville-based university.
“One of the main reasons people don’t camp is lack of experience,” said Piper. “We knew we could create a solution that allowed more people to comfortably and conveniently enjoy camping. We set up so you can set out.”
Coonhound Camping recently received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Achievement Award, presented in Washington, DC, as part of the chamber’s annual Dream Big Awards. The awards honor the achievements of small businesses and highlight their contributions to America’s economic growth. The team also won the Community Excellence award, celebrating the business’s connection to community and customers.
Last year, the team entered the Graves Business Plan Competition hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the university’s Haslam College of Business, taking first place in the Lifestyle Business category and a $5,000 award.
“Winning the Graves Competition meant that we could start Coonhound Camping,” Piper said. “The award paid for insurance and equipment and allowed us to be operational.”
Coonhound Camping began setting up campsites in the Great Smoky Mountains and around east and middle Tennessee. The company now offers custom camping packages, from small groups to large events.