We recently connected with Brian Hoffman and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Brian, thanks for joining us today. Can you talk to us about how you learned to do what you do?
My mother and father ran a small manufacturing business in New Jersey. I grew up in the factory, worked in the shop and learned how to use tools at a very young age. My father taught me how products were developed, made and brought to market, at least how it was done in the old days. Our factory was shuttered in the early nineties by NAFTA and I witnessed first hand how destructive trade policy could be to our manufacturing sector.
Over the years I was fortunate to have many talented friends and mentors who taught me a variety of skills. I learned how to work on engines and electronics, how to make things out of wood, plastic, composites, and metal. I eventually started my own boat commissioning and repair business in 2008. Working in the boatyard for 15 years was a masterclass in collaboration and community, while I continued to learn from talented craftsmen and artisans.
I try to apply what I learn to problems in every day life that need solutions. I started making Doghooks because my dogs were not allowed in my local market and cafe. One day I saw a dog tied to a plastic chair run out into the street and almost get hit by a car. I made some simple, strong dog hitches that I installed at local businesses in North Park so people could safely secure their pets while they shop and eat. Dog lovers got it and last month we sold our 35,000th Doghook.
As an environmental advocate I thought about how I could help people reduce their carbon emissions, so I took it on myself to reduce my own. Over the past 3 years I have drastically reduced my own carbon footprint by using an electric cargo bike as transportation rather than my SUV. To do this effectively I had to fabricate locking cargo boxes and attach them to my bicycle. Necessity in this case led to innovation.
My team and I have since developed a really cool product called the “Velocker” that we think can change the world. Velockers have already helped dozens of families transition to car light or car free lifestyles who could not have otherwise done so. Our mission at Ebike Cargo is to help people and businesses gracefully transition to sustainable mobility and logistics.
Now, however we are struggling to learn the craft of fundraising to get this project off the ground in a meaningful way, to help us fight climate change and create a more sustainable future.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.
Hi, I am Brian Hoffman. I am an inventor and entrepreneur in San Diego. I started inventing things and developing products because I thought the world needed them. Today’s marketplace is full of gimmicks and cheap products made in far off lands that quickly end up in our landfills. On a small scale my team and I are trying to change that.
Katrina, Donnie and I make Doghooks so that dog owners and pet friendly businesses can have an extra hand when they need it. Our easy to use, heavy duty dog hitches make pet friendly places safer than ever for dogs and humans. Doghooks are great for home, office, retail, hospitality, pet care or anywhere else that dogs are commonly present. We are proud to work with companies like Little Free Library, Google, Amazon, VCA and many others to keep dogs safe. Check us out at www.doghook.com
At Ebike Cargo we make Velockers for people who want to use electric bikes as transportation. As early e-bike adopters and commuters we were disappointed by the available cargo options for these incredibly useful machines. After searching far and wide, unsuccessfully for a secure bike cargo system, we made one. Think of it as having a locking trunk on your bicycle. Our lightweight, strong, secure cargo boxes attach to most bicycles in minutes. Velockers are also kid and pet friendly, and our versatile convertible case design is the ideal cargo companion for most e-bike users.
We are now in the process of scaling up Ebike Cargo to meet global demand. We are proud to be working with companies like Benno, Bosch, Tern and Rad to bring new and important mobility and logistics solutions to market. As humanity must transition from fossil fuels to renewables, it is increasingly obvious that electric bicycles have a large role to play. Our Velocker cargo system bridges the gap between today’s e-bikes and most peoples actual mobility needs.
What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?
My favorite thing in the world is to see our products “in the wild.” Online reviews are great and all, but seeing people using a product that you made is powerful stuff.
This summer my girlfriend and I went back east to see friends and family. We were hanging out in a sleepy little New England harbor town called Green Port and walked up to a coffee shop called Aldo’s. Outside was a large yellow lab tethered to a Doghook while his owner ordered breakfast at the counter. When I introduced myself as the Doghook guy, we were all fast friends and I even got a free cup of coffee.
We are very lucky to be able to make things that we care deeply about. As dog lovers it feels wonderful to make products that keep dogs safe. As bicycle advocates it feels great to make Velocker products, which will help people from all walks of life transition from cars to bikes for transportation.
Are there any books, videos or other content that you feel have meaningfully impacted your thinking?
I would make two recommendations that I believe have significantly impacted my thinking and philosophy. These are not easy concepts but both of these podcast series are well worth your time. If you have a history of depression or are in a fragile mental state, please disregard.
Breaking Down Collapse is a podcast series that analyzes the trajectory of modern society. Hosts Kory and Kellan exhaustively identify problems in the modern world and objectively research and present likely outcomes. This is heavy stuff, be warned.
Talking Capital with Comrades is basically a modern lefty’s book review of Karl Marx’ masterpiece Das Kapital. If you want to understand how global financial systems work and how we could build a new, more equitable system, listen to this.
- Website: https://www.ebikecargo.com https://www.doghook.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ebikecargo/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ebikecargocom-405859616648182/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-hoffman-40b07764/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ebikecargo
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLEa6ont3III-el11c0ry2w
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/ebikecargo/
Brian Hoffman Benno Benzinger Gabriel Ervin