Meko Outdoors, the parent company of Canopy Breeze, is a small company located in Collierville, Tennessee, just outside of Memphis. I'm Matt, the founder. Since Canopy Breeze landed in May of 2020 at the height of the pandemic, we delayed its official launch until 2021. We are now happy to introduce Canopy Breeze to the world!
Not only do I sell Canopy Breeze, I also invented it. Its roots date back to 2014, when my youngest daughter started playing competitive soccer. Her very first tournament was in September of that year at Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis, and I tell you it was hot that weekend. It was one of those weekends where the temps were in the 90's with high humidity and zero breeze. We had a canopy for shade, but it offered very little relief. The next week I searched for a ceiling fan for portable canopies - the product you see here today - only to realize at the time that it didn't exist.
There's a lot of us out there who have come up with product ideas. In our family we've come up with the flat plug, 3-D contact lenses and frozen toast to name a few. But when I told my wife about a ceiling fan for canopies, I didn't get the usual eye-roll like most of my inventions. Her reaction was different this time, almost as if this product is supposed to exist, but no one had gotten around to creating it yet.
So began a five year journey to develop Canopy Breeze. My first step was to find a patent attorney, and after an exhaustive search to see if anything close existed, we were able to move forward with a patent application.
Filing for a patent was cause for celebration at the time, however the real work was still ahead of us - developing a product from nothing. I contacted some engineers through the local university, and we began the process of sourcing motors, conducting torque tests, designing fan blades, and building prototypes. One of the first prototypes was made from a mop bucket for the body, fan blades cut out of a large plastic storage bin, and the center spindle made from a cat food can. This is what we used to determine if the concept could generate enough airflow to make a difference outdoors. There are many different variables with an outdoor application like this, but, overall it proved to be effective in most of the scenarios we tested. After many prototypes, the initial design was finalized. We were able to source production overseas, and received our first container in May, 2020.
Today, we are selling Canopy Breeze through various online channels, and we are in the process of building a nationwide dealer network. We came to a crossroads in June of 2021 when the all the activity with Canopy Breeze became too much to handle on a part-time basis, so I made the decision to leave corporate America to pursue this full-time. Wish me luck!
When we made the decision to turn our idea into a business, there were three foundational principles we wanted to base it on:
Do the right thing. We know that the customer defines our success, so our first priority is to take care of the customer! If there is anything you need, or a customer doesn't feel like the fan is working right, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will make it right.
Always Improve. We spent years designing our product to be as efficient as possible, but we are never satisfied. We are continually researching ways to make the fan better. The first iPhone was great, but somehow they find a way to improve it every year!
Embrace Change. Things move very quickly in this day and age, and we aim to be adaptable to change so we can continue to grow and thrive.
If you are a Canopy Breeze vendor, I say thank you! My wish is that you love Canopy Breeze. If you or a customer are not completely satisfied, please email us and let us know your concern, and we will make it right!
Matt Oppenheim grew up in Meridian, Mississippi as the youngest of six kids. He had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, running a DJ business in high school and designing tee-shirts in college. After college, he moved to the Memphis area and spent 25 years in corporate America before taking the leap into business ownership. If you call or email, he will most likely be the one to answer since he does most of the office work!
He and his wife Kim live in Collierville, Tennessee. They have two daughters, one out of the house and one still in! Matt enjoys low and slow cooking on the smoker, watching three football games at once if not tailgating at a game, woodworking, and thinking of weird ideas.