It’s hard to imagine LavaBox being created by anyone other than Josh Thurmond. This portable campfire is a nexus of all the passions and purposes that drive his life.

As a whitewater rafting guide, Josh stored supplies in military ammunition canisters, or “ammo cans,” as the cans are waterproof and indestructible. They were also a constant symbolic presence among the wounded veterans with whom he did philanthropic work. “There’s nothing more iconic in the military than the ammo can,” he explains. As a volunteer firefighter in Colorado, he witnessed the devastation brought about by fires, and understood the potential danger of combustible materials used to create traditional campfires.

A self-described “big tinkerer”, Josh combined all of these influences to create LavaBox, a propane-based burner inside of an ammo can, which has been a swift and stunning success in the outdoor space. Crucially, as fire bans continue to be passed throughout the western United States, LavaBox has been enthusiastically recognized by the National Parks Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Further contributing to his philanthropic efforts, one dollar from every sale of LavaBox is donated to Team River Runner, which teaches whitewater kayaking to wounded veterans.

Tune in to this episode of The Achievers to hear Josh explain why he eschews social media marketing in lieu of authentic customer testimonials, the importance of a supportive partner, and why it’s just as crucial to know when to execute an idea as it is to know when to move on to the next one.

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Episode Quotes

  • “I wanted something that was easily adopted and felt cool. I think we often overlook how important cool is.” (5:30-5:38 | Josh)
  • “I built seven prototypes in about 48 hours–that’s how crazy I am. And I got to number seven, and was like, ‘I like this one.’ And the next day I said, ‘All right, I’m gonna make 40 of these.’ I sold them in a week, and I said, ‘There’s something here.'” (7:022-7:39 | Josh)
  • “Smart luck is when someone like you, recognizes that a bit of luck has just come along, and then you really dig in and double down to turn that into something.” (8:46-8:55 | Dax)
  • “We have this advantage now where marketing shifted from the glossy and polished expensive video shoot/photo shoot. People now want authenticity. And what’s great for a founder like you is that means you don’t necessarily have to go spend a whole bunch of money doing photo shoots and video shoots. People with your product, looking at it, using it, taking pictures, taking videos. That does more good than something polished. (22:19- 22:47 | Dax)
  • “In whitewater kayaking, especially at the level I paddle at, you have to believe you’re gonna make it. There is no option. A lot of the stuff I paddle, classified plus, especially when I was younger–-there is no option to say, ‘I hope I make it.’ You can only believe you’re going to make it. And about four months ago, I was like, ‘You know what? Doubt’s a waste of time. We’re just going do it.'” (30:02-30:26 | Josh)
  • “I’m not attached to saying, ‘I’m only going to make one winner.’ I think that happens to a lot of entrepreneurs, especially the people I talk to in my circles right now, they’re like, ‘This is the one I’m hanging my hat on.’ I think that’s a huge mistake. I think you gotta stay fresh, keep looking, and stay hungry.” (34:12-34:30 | Josh)

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