Founded in Tacoma in 2015, Brotallion is the brainchild of three Army aviators and fitness enthusiasts who wanted to promote community among their fellow pilots. As the company grew, founders Kyle Kilroy, Spencer Payne, and Brett Kroll discovered that their community needed other things, too, from apparel that represented them to relevant fitness plans, professional opportunities, and financial support. The Brotallion team created a podcast-driven mentorship program, a strong social media network, and tailor-made workouts. They also developed the Blue Skies Foundation, a philanthropic arm dedicated to providing post-mishap support for the Army Aviation community and their families.
We caught up with the busy Brotallion team to hear about their history, mission, and next moves.
Hiring America: Tell us about your time in the military. Which skills from your experience have translated into your journey as an entrepreneur?
Brotallion Team: Our collective experience in the military was extremely positive and fulfilling. As Army Officers and pilots, we had the opportunity to deploy and see our training in full effect. One of the largest aspects we learned from working abroad was how important people and community are to a unit’s success. Taking this lesson forward into our journey as entrepreneurs on multiple fronts, it continues to stand true and will for the test of time. People and our community make us. If you put your people and their overall needs first, nothing but motivation, inspiration, and success will result.
HA: What inspired Brotallion? At what point did you realize there was an audience for the brand and a need for its mission?
BT: As a couple of dudes that loved to lift weight, fly, and have a good time, Brotallion was a title delivered to us by our unit leadership. We served in an Army Aviation Battalion made up of 400 or so people, and thus, our friendship group was titled “The Brotallion.” After recognizing that our mantra of Friendship, Freedom, Flight, and Fitness was shared within many of the Army Aviation community, we started a few social media pages and developed our branding to suit. Further, we noticed a need to revamp motivation and inspiration within our culture and made it a point to develop apparel and content that instills and fills this void. In early 2019, we fully embraced this mission to “provide custom and branded aviation apparel which cultivates the human emotion of flight, for aviators by aviators.” At this time, efforts to embrace our people and culture truly took off as traffic on our social pages and website grew exponentially. We began to fulfill a void, recognized it, and continue to run and develop it.
HA: What have been the biggest challenges for the Brotallion team?
BT: For everyone on the team, Brotallion is a side hustle. In other words, we all have primary jobs or school that require most of our focus and energy. Learning to maximize free time and prioritize has been critical. Additionally, everyone on the team is spread out worldwide from Tennessee to Michigan to Korea, Germany, and Alabama.
HA: Brotallion is clearly very committed to giving back and serving the veteran community. Can you tell us about the Blue Skies Foundation?
BT: The Blue Skies Foundation is a veteran-founded 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing post-mishap support for the Army Aviation community and their families. In addition to providing financial support, we ensure that their legacies will live on. We honor our fallen brothers and sisters through generous donations, volunteering, business relationships, and the sale of shirts from the Brotallion Blue Skies Collection.
HA: Tell us about your mentorship initiative. Do you see your business model evolving in the future?
BT: As stated, at the heart of Brotallion is community and assisting those who need it. One issue we have noticed since our foundation is misinformation regarding the processes and necessary steps to initiate a career in both military and civilian aviation. We take questions daily from current and prospective aviators regarding the right steps to take to reach a certain goal through our social media platforms. Therefore, we created a Facebook page titled “The Brotallion Ready Room” where folks from our community can network and connect with those that have the right answers. On top of that, our Podcast, “The Pilots Lounge,” features aviators from across the industry providing advice and avenues that our listeners and community can pursue. Finally, we are in the process of curating relationships with other brands and foundations from across our industry to develop a zero-cost mentorship platform that will connect prospective aviators from across the country to vetted and invested professional pilots that have cracked the code. Although we cannot say quite yet if these programs will change our business model, we definitely feel that they will help us grow into a national presence and respected brand within the aviation community.
HA: Any words of advice for veterans who are looking to start a business?
BT: I would say that it is critical to understand the difference between an idea and an opportunity. Simply put, an idea is a concept that could be used to make money, and an opportunity has proven commercial value. Knowing the difference between the two is critical to avoid wasting time and money. Also, be true to yourself and your vision. There are a bunch of veteran companies out there. Some do it the right way and others “sell out,” so to speak. The vet community will see right through you if you are not authentic.
HA: What’s next for Brotallion?
BT: We have a few exciting projects on the horizon. One is a collaboration with Army Flash Cards to begin producing Emergency Procedure and Limitation study cards for the Army Aviation community. We will also be applying to the Boyd Venture Challenge at the University of Tennessee with the hopes of winning startup capital with which we can expand our team and add focus to SEO, website optimization, and design.
To learn more about Brotallion and shop their gear, visit the Brotallion website.