Shane Michael (Hernandez) is a longtime supporter of B4BC and the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mittun (previously named Mitten United): a creative design agency who keeps B4BC’s website on point and is always on call for any and all tech or design-related emergencies. Shane and the Mittun crew have fundraised over $6,000 for B4BC through the Skate the Lake and Skate the Coast series, and have held the “Top Fundraiser” and “Top Fundraising Team” positions multiple times. Oh, and you’ll never catch him without at least two pink B4BC wristbands on at any given time. Learn more about the upcoming Skate the Lake event, why he stays involved, and his best fundraising techniques!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company, Mittun.
Shane Michael— entrepreneur, designer, developer, action sports junkie. Founder of Mittun. B4BC fundraiser.
Mittun is a creative design agency in Southern California that specializes in making the web a more beautiful place. We ’re an energetic, youthful & creative group of designers who are inspired and passionate about design. We love what we do and we do what we love.
How do you use your company to give back to B4BC and other nonprofits?
I want to spread goodness throughout the world by helping people, companies and organizations reach their goals and utmost potential by giving them the best online presence as possible. So many nonprofits are doing amazing things with limited exposure, limited resources and on a limited scale. Same with small businesses, or even larger companies that are overlooking the importance of a legit web presence. If giving them an awesome online presence contributes to the better good as a whole, I’m all for it. That’s what our company is all about. Mittun specializes in making the world a more beautiful place through beautiful design. I want to utilize our gift, our expertise, our skill—to help others reach their goals. We are in constant pursuit of designing for the better good. That’s what we’re all about.
Why is Boarding for Breast Cancer so important to you?
B4BC’s mantra of early detection + an active lifestyle = the best prevention really hits home with me. It’s something I truly believe in and live my life by, and I feel that the message should be conveyed to everyone. It’s awesome that B4BC is taking a different approach to breast cancer awareness and prevention by being on-site at venues and putting on events that promote a healthy, active lifestyle along with early detection. B4BC’s roots are in snowboarding and other action sports, which parallels with my passions as well. The thought of losing a loved one or any board riding athlete in our industry to a disease that can be prevented in some cases doesn’t settle right with me (as I’m sure it doesn’t with anybody!), so I want to do everything possible to help. Fundraising for their events is an easy and fun way to contribute to the cause, as it provides B4BC with the resources to continue shredding the love. I believe in the cause and will be a supporter for life!
You’ve raised thousands of dollars for B4BC through our Skate the Lake and Skate the Coast series, earning yourself top fundraiser prizes like GoPro’s and skateboards from Sector 9, Loaded Longboards and more. What are your best fundraising techniques?
For starters, we fill out our fundraising profiles fully with photos and text to show we’re real people. Then, we share our pages with everyone we know! Starting with close family, then moving to friends, and then moving to distant family, and then work colleagues. I find that a personal email to each individual person is the best way to get results, as it’s more personal than a mass message and really engages that person. We also blast it on social media several different times before the event too, to help spread the word. It’s amazing how many people are willing to contribute if you express the good behind the cause! The Prostate Cancer Foundation (a client of ours) even made a donation to my page— it’s awesome. After someone donates we always make sure to thank them too, because what they’re doing is great and they deserve to be thanked. We’ve also come to learn that most donors like the idea of a deadline, so we really push our fundraising efforts the last two weeks before an event.
How many times have you participated in Skate the Lake and Skate the Coast? What is the experience like?
I have two 18-mile Skate the Coast events under my belt and one 28-mile Skate the Lake event completed as well. Both are a blast! The energy is incredible and everyone is feeding off of each other: laughing, being active, sharing positivity—it’s great. There are several hydration stations and pit stops along the way, so anyone that thinks 18 miles is too long has no need to worry. The 28-mile skate is a bit more challenging, but the hydration stations, beautiful scenery and purpose behind the skate is enough motivation for anyone to finish. It’s the perfect distance to make you feel good about what you’re doing but not kill yourself while doing it. I will definitely be participating in future years, for sure. The Mittun team has been able to raise over $2,000 for both ’12 & ’13 Skate the Coast events, so we would definitely like to beat that next year. You can check out our blog recaps from Skate the Lake 2013, Skate the Coast 2013, and Skate the Coast 2012 too!
What causes you to gravitate towards nonprofit organizations?
Like I mentioned before, I want to design for the better good. Typically, nonprofits are in it for a good cause, and they’re the ones who often need a better website. Whether it’s due to lack of funds, or purely a marketing oversight— a lot of for-good companies overlook their web presence. I want to change this. In the last year, we’ve worked with great organizations like Athletes For A Cure, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Boarding For Breast Cancer, Riding On Insulin, The Action Sports Alliance, HealthCorps, and The Active Alliance. It’s great to combine good design toward a good cause. It’s rewarding. It feels good. And it makes sense.
We love helping nonprofits, but we’ve done much more than just that. We’ve designed for professional athletes, Emmy-nominated filmmakers, million-dollar corporations, and everything in between. Technology allows us to work remotely and worldwide, obtaining talented team members regardless of where they are. What this means is we can scale our business model to adapt to any project, in any location, without sacrificing quality— ever. The future is bright and promising. We’re not slowing down.
Where did the name “Mittun” come from?
Ask any Michigander where they’re from and they’ll pull out their hand and point to it. Michigan looks like a mitten and is known by Midwesterners as “The Mitten State.”
So one day (well, actually over the course of two years), three dudes from the Mitten moved out west: myself, Co-Founder and Creative Director Danny Dirkse and creative guru Nate Moulton. One of us once said “It’s like the Mitten is being United in California.” And that’s exactly what happened. So I named the company Mitten United and 5 years later shortened it to “Mittun”.
Oh, and the domain was available. Duh.
Any last thoughts?
I want to give a huge thanks to my partner in crime and Co-Founder of Mittun, Danny Dirkse. This dude is awesome and has stuck it out with me through thick and thin. Mittun simply could not exist without him! I want to thank our new Director of Operations, Melissa Monte, for keeping us all in line and on track as we grow. I want to thank the other main guys at Mittun as well—Nate Jones, Nate Moulton, Aaron Holmes and Tom Wallace. You can check out the bios for our whole team on the site. I want to thank all of our interns, part-timers and blog contributors. I want to thank the lovely ladies at B4BC for their continued support. I want to thank all of our other clients— current, new and past— for working with us. I want to thank California, for providing a playground for life. And most importantly, I want to thank my family and friends for supporting my dreams and my pursuit of establishing a solid business.
To get the Mittun team to make you a brand new website, provide graphic design services, or anything else web-related, check them out at www.Mittun.co!