Joseph Pippins grew up in Kansas City, Kan. A restless kid, he spent many afternoons grounded and confined to his bedroom, unable to get his hands on essential childhood goodies. That is, until he started selling toys out of his window, creating a marketplace and filling his coffers with baseball cards, ice cream, video games and an entrepreneurial spirit to boot.
This knack for solving problems and hunger for success sunk its hook deep into Pippins’ life. Entrepreneurship helped him raise himself out of poverty and drove him to push against the current. He created an adult goodie, the Fishing Caddy, that does a whole lot more than make fishing easier. It brings families together and helps create childhood memories full of love and the thrills of reeling in a big catch.
What is the Fishing Caddy?
The inspiration for the Fishing Caddy came one day when Pippins was trout fishing at Heritage Park in Olathe. He noticed how much gear fishermen needed to have a successful day. He was sitting in a bad spot with his folding lawn chair, bucket, tackle box, flashlight fishing poles and bait. He hadn’t caught a single fish.
That’s when the lightbulb went off. All of Pippins’ gear was preventing him from moving to a better spot. He dreaded packing it all up to find where the fish were biting.
Pippins began testing the first version of the Fishing Caddy, just a rod holder attached to a bucket. After hundreds of hours of testing, it developed into a full fishing system that takes a lot of hassle out of the sport.
By making the sport more convenient and more fun, Pippins hoped that more kids would set down their electronics and head out to the lake to spend time with their dads, for grandparents to pass on the fishing tradition with ease and pride, and for everyone to see that if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, anyone can catch a fish and become a fisherman—or even an entrepreneur.
Big Fish in a Broke Pond
Pippins says he’s been an entrepreneur for a long time. His phone is full of ideas he’s recorded to solve everyday problems he encounters.
His desire to make life easier and better existed even in middle school, when he was known as the “candy man.” “Like any kid,” he said, “I wanted Nikes, comic books and, of course, more candy, but my retired grandmother couldn’t afford those things.”
So he struck out on his own and sold candy until one of his employees went rogue. “Yeah, I had a crew!” he said. Soon after, he began selling cheat codes to the video game Mortal Combat and quickly forgot about the small margins he was making selling candy.
Pippins said that a book called “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John, the founder of FUBU, recently empowered him to embrace that growing up poor gave him an advantage over his wealthier peers. He said he no longer considers his lack of resources early on as a crutch, but as a badge of honor.
“I’ve experienced a lot of tragedies—losing siblings to gun violence, days without nutritious meals and being homeless several times in my life,” he said. “Yet, like most of my peers in the inner city, I stayed hungry for success because the sting of poverty was so strong. Every day, I feel its cold touch breathing down my neck. When I want to give up, I think about how far I have come and those who depend on me, and keep on going.”
Catch and Release
Pippins big dream for the Fishing Caddy is to be this generation’s fishing and camping staple.
“It’s the most amazing thing in the world to bring a product or business out of your mind and into a physical form,” said Pippins. “The fact that fishermen on the other side of the country log onto thefishingcaddy.com and part with their money to purchase my idea made real is humbling and exciting at the same time.”
But even more importantly, he said, success is about giving back. Pippins hopes to start a foundation to give back to the inner cities where he grew up. “I want to reach those kids who were like me, whose mind wanders in class and gets reprimanded often. It’s these kids, who with the right guidance and mentorship, can become our next generation of leaders. These are the kids with big visions and hustle. I want to encourage them to stay dreaming, and help them with the resources to bring those dreams to life.”