Tough Mudder

By George Foster, Sara Rosenthal
2013 | Case No. E464 | Length 21 pgs.

This case profiles the launch and growth of Tough Mudder, a startup founded by Will Dean and Guy Livingstone in the mud run/adventure challenge space. Dean, an avid triathlete and marathoner, found these solitary endurance events boring, and wanted to come up with a new concept that would bond teams of people together to complete an athletic event that would test not only their physical strengths, but their will, determination and mental grit as well. The case chronicles the meteoric rise of Tough Mudder within the rapidly growing adventure race industry. As Tough Mudder looked ahead to 2013, it faced numerous opportunities and challenges, not the least of which was a move to host events internationally. The company also faced fierce competition and was constantly having to innovate in order to stay at the head of the pack. Finally, rapid growth meant scaling challenges within the organization that would need to be addressed if the company was going to maintain the high level of operational excellence that was so critical to the success of its events.

Learning Objective

Students are asked to examine the challenges and opportunities faced by the organization in this period of rapid growth. What are the top priorities in scaling the organization and what specific infrastructure/processes need to be put in place? What are Tough Mudder’s major growth opportunities and how should they approach them? Finally, what are some of the startup’s biggest challenges ahead?

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