Magazine Feature / People

Alum’s backpack business thrives

University of Denver alumnus Ian Ivarson (BSBA ’04) has developed and patented a backpack that keeps schoolwork and books organized while reducing back pain.

As a high school student in 1998, Ivarson created the Ivar System — a backpack with a main compartment that has an angled shelf to evenly distribute weight. Books, papers and other necessities can be kept separate and easily accessible.

As a business student, Ivarson interned at, a retailer that now carries his product.

After graduating from DU, Ivarson went to work building his company, Ivar LLC (formerly Ivarson USA LLC). He had hoped to manufacture the product in the U.S., but high production costs convinced him to look to Vietnam, where the backpack is manufactured in a unionized factory under humane conditions.

“Social responsibility and ethics are key principals encouraged at the Daniels College of Business,” Ivarson says. “I’ve made the continuous effort to ensure these principals are alive and well within our business.”

Beginning as a one-person operation, Ivar LLC has grown into a network of individuals with international distribution. Ivar backpacks are sold online, via catalog and in more than 60 U.S. retail locations, including the DU Bookstore.

Ivarson has been hiring sales representatives and the company has a new, large warehouse in the San Francisco Bay area. He has added two new designs to his product line for 2007 and is developing new items for 2008, including models for women and children.

Prices range from $59.99–$79.99. For more information, visit


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