Country Roads Angel Network Makes Solid $$$ Commitment to New and Developing Outdoors/Camping Business with Ties to West Virginia


With the motto of “carry as little as possible, but choose that little with care,” a new startup company with ties to West Virginia—The Lite Sleeper—is the latest entrepreneurial venture to receive support from Country Roads Angel Network (CRAN).

In its announcement today, CRAN, West Virginia’s first accredited angel network, said it is investing $100,000 in The Lite Sleeper ( founded in 2023 by University of Charleston graduate Dustin Ward and his wife Summer.

The Lite Sleeper features sleeping gear for camping/hiking as well as a clothing line.

Dustin Ward has a 2023 B.S. in Organizational Leadership from the University of Charleston, and Summer Ward graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from American Military University.

Before and during college, Dustin had 12 global combat deployments as a sniper and in the Special Operations command. Summer’s post-college background has been as a personal trainer and working as a medical receptionist in a pediatric ADHD clinic.

According to Dustin, “The idea for The Lite Sleeper was born from my days in Special Ops and working in settings where less is more. And, it was further illuminated for me and Summer when our son was younger and we were getting his nap mat ready for school, and we realized how useful this would be for multiple environments including camping, military and the outdoors.”

“The Lite Sleeper is an exciting new investment for CRAN. Dustin’s vision of a lightweight sleeping system has quickly accelerated from a vision to a successful entrepreneurial start-up business. We look forward to supporting Dustin and Summer as they continue to grow the business,” said Jeffrey James, CRAN board member and deal lead on the venture.

This latest support from CRAN brings investments to approximately $1.5 million in the past four years in addition to more than $8 million raised in matching capital for CRAN-supported programs. To date, CRAN funds have been invested in start-ups tied to health, food, arts/tourism, broadband, energy and tech. James added the CRAN infusion of capital will be used to help The Lite Sleeper invest in new product development, increase inventory supplies, expand further into niche outdoor and military supply retail outlets and enhance the customer’s online experience.

The Lite Sleeper, prior to receiving CRAN support, had been awarded $25,000 last year in the West Virginia Business Plan Competition (WVBPC) and $7,000 from the Veteran Entrepreneur Pitch Competition, sponsored by the Small Business Administration Community Navigator Pilot Program.

“CRAN is proud to support The Lite Sleeper and we believe it will be yet another successful business story that was born in West Virginia,” said Kevin Combs, CRAN chair.

“Without this pivotal investment from CRAN along with WVBPC and SBA, The Lite Sleeper journey would be but a fraction of what it is today. Their unwavering support has been the cornerstone of our growth, propelling us further than we thought we’d ever be. Their belief in our vision has not only fueled progress, but also has underscored the power of collaboration in achieving shared success. The Lite Sleeper stands as a testament to the transformative impact of strategic partnerships and visionary investment,” said Dustin Ward.

For a quick overview of The Lite Sleeper, watch below a 30-second video.

About CRAN: With CRAN, entrepreneurs have access to supportive investors that they can look to for guidance. CRAN’s investor-members—more than 35– donate significant time to mentoring, both before and after a venture is ready for funding. Mentoring activities include fine tuning their business model; advising on capital stacking and ideal capital structure; assisting with marketing strategies; and performing business plan reviews. In some instances, CRAN members become advisors to the companies so they receive continued guidance. Finally, CRAN members frequently leverage their own networks to provide the entrepreneurs with key introductions to potential customers, vendors, and other strategic partners.

Interested in becoming a member and learning more, follow us at and on LinkedIn.