Oru Kayak Paddles Forward

“Our best mode of thinking is doing. When we're stuck, we try to do something physical — paddle, walk, or climb.”

When Anton Willis moved into a small apartment in San Francisco, he put his large fiberglass kayak in storage. He’d grown up exploring the rivers and coasts of Northern California by boat, but living in the city made keeping one impractical. Intrigued by an article he’d read about recent advances in origami, Willis got to work designing a lightweight, full-sized kayak, made from a single sheet of corrugated plastic, that could fold flat into a case small enough to throw in the trunk of a car or carry on a train.

Anton Willis

Anton Willis

In 2012, after four years of developing a prototype and building a small team, Willis came to Kickstarter, gaining support from more than 700 backers to launch the Oru Kayak.

Oru recently introduced a special edition of their Bay ST Kayak for Kickstarter Gold— and used the campaign to announce their commitment to 1% for the Planet, a network of businesses that donate portions of their revenues to environmental nonprofits.

For Willis, using his venture to help protect the waterways that inspired him to invent Oru in the first place is an important step: “It's helping us to move towards our next ambition: to give back more to our community and environment.”

Beyond this noble mission, protecting outdoor spaces is a matter of preserving a creative resource that Willis and his team rely on: “Our best mode of thinking is doing. The designers at Oru Kayak are very hands-on — we make lots of rough prototypes and test ideas quickly. When we're stuck, we try to do something physical — paddle, walk, or climb.”

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