With a bubbly, talkative personality and a height of 6-foot-9-inches, all eyes are on The Adventurous 500’s Ryan Park as he enters a room.
Park is the 22-year-old CEO and founder of The Adventurous 500. According to his website, “he’ll expose community hot spots, discover new venues and encounter some very unique people.” As Park explores, he videotapes his adventures, shares them online and gives away prizes. He adventures locally on foot and bike, and plans to go farther by driving. Each day is sponsored by a Colorado business.
Park has already begun to adventure across Colorado. With his program, Park plans to expose community hot spots and encounter unique Colo. residents. This program began on Nov. 15 and will continue for 500 days. Park also is a marketing student at CU, and is just a few credits shy of graduation.
Wade Holland, a 22-year-old senior marketing major, said he has been friends with Park since his freshman year. He is also the advertising sales manager for The Adventurous 500 and is currently Park’s roommate.
“He’s really the hardest worker and most determined individual I’ve met,” Holland said. “He’s motivating. He works around the clock.”
Park’s passion for Colorado is evident by his support of local Colorado businesses, which sponsor each day of The Adventurous 500. To name a few Boulder businesses: The Fitter, Egloo Delights, Boulder Greens and Freaky’s Gift Shoppe have already sponsored days of The Adventurous 500.
Park said he is close to both of his parents and was motivated to become an entrepreneur by watching his father.
“My dad has been self-employed since my parents have been married,” he said. “Watching my dad struggle to pay for my family through the economy was awful. My sophomore year, his company tanked. It is up and rolling again.”
Due to his father’s business struggling during his sophomore year, he was cut off from all finances.
While paying his way through school, he said that he got inspired to become an entrepreneur.
He said the idea of the The Adventurous 500 came while he was working for the local technology company LogRhythm. He also said that he was inspired by the website, iwearyourshirt.com, which featured an entrepreneur who wore a different business’ shirt everyday for 365 days.
“I first saw it and thought it was a cool idea,” Park said. “He was doing his own, unique thing. That’s when the spark hit. I wanted to do something unique.”
So far, he said he has not had problems finding sponsors, and said about 50 percent of the businesses on the Hill are involved. He also said they are providing gift cards, electronics, ski gear and other giveaways.
However, not everyone he approached about The Adventurous 500 thought it would work. Boulder entrepreneur and Startup Weekend founder, Andrew Hyde shot him down.
“It was a big bummer for me,” Park said. “I had to keep pushing.”
His mother, Cicilia El-ali, recently came to visit Park and said that she gets along well with him.
“I carry his first baby picture in my wallet,” El-ali said. “He was grinning from ear-to-ear with his mouth in a smile. He’s been that way ever since—full of life. He’s not quiet. You always knew when Ryan was around. It’s always a positive vibe.”
She said that she believes that Park’s motivation has to do with two things.
“He’s very creative and doesn’t want to be handicapped by an employer,” she said. “Also, his father is a entrepreneur and both his grandfathers are.”
Park and his friends and family said that he isn’t perfect.
“He kind of loud,” El-ali said. “He’s so concerned with having a good time. He needs to realize that it’s OK to be quiet.”
The little time Park doesn’t spend working on The Adventurous 500, he said he spends playing basketball and reading.
Holland said that there is a lot about Park that makes him interesting.
“We’ve been working around the clock,” Holland said. “And I’m falling asleep and I try to get a couple hours of sleep. I go to bed for two hours, and he’s still in the same spot doing things. He made me feel bad for sleeping two hours.”
He also said that Park is a bit of a ladies man.
“I’m jealous sometimes,” he said. “He’s 6-foot-9-inches, and he gets attention and commotion. We’ll go out and get drinks and to socialize, and if you ever want to have a relaxed night [with Park] it won’t happen. I haven’t had a quiet night with him in five years.”
What’s next for The Adventurous 500? Park and Holland said that not everyday has been decided yet, but Holland said that they want to grow beyond just local businesses.
“We are hoping that he can play one-on-one with a Denver Nugget or another professional basketball player,” Holland said.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this story has been modified. It was initially stated that 80 percent of businesses on the Hill have helped sponsor The Adventurous 500. This has now been changed to 50 percent.
Contact CU Independent Social Media Outreach Editor Sara Fruman at Sara.email@example.com.