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Will Dean, a MBA student at Harvard Business School, noticed that people were bored with marathons and triathlons, and decided he was going to introduce a more challenging event that would test both physical and mental strengths of the participants. Dean created a business plan based on that idea, which would later become a semifinalist in the annual business plan contest of Harvard Business School. In 2010, Dean partnered with Guy Livingstone to form Tough Mudder, an endurance event series. The first Tough Mudder event was held at Bear Creek Ski Resort near Allentown, PA in May, 2010. The event was so successful that two more events were organized in the same year respectively at Northern California and New Jersey. The company took off from there and went on to organize 14 events throughout the United States in 2011 and another 35 events in four countries in 2012. Tough Mudder brought revenues of $70 million in just two years. Over the next few years, the company went to achieve several new milestones; and by 2014, more than 1.3 million people participated in Tough Mudder events.
Tough Mudder is not just an endurance event; it is a chance for the participants to learn important life skills, such as, teamwork and accountability. The company has been guided by the same values since its inception. The work culture of Tough Mudder is “based on the TMHQ PACT.” People at Tough Mudder are governed by the principles of teamwork, accountability, strive for continuous improvement, and a sense of pride. The main objective of Tough Mudder is to help people develop a better attitude towards facing new challenges, and to encourage them to collaborate and work together as a team. The company also committed to fulfill its corporate social responsibility by raising funds and making donations to organizations dedicated to social welfare activities. In 2011, Tough Mudder raised more than $1 million in donations for Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), an organization dedicated to honor and support injured warriors of the nation.
The idea behind Tough Mudder is to test all-round physical fitness and mental grit of the participants, challenging them in a 16–19 km long military-style obstacle course. The company played a major role in promoting values like teamwork and camaraderie through an exhilarating yet safe endurance event. Tough Mudder sets itself apart from similar racing events by putting a high value on team challenge, rather than on the time span of a race. The participants get a chance to improve develop important life skills in a fun way. The Tough Mudder team spends hours to ideate some unique and unprecedented obstacles in every event, with a focus on teamwork and adrenaline-inducing fun.