This article was provided by Camber Outdoors.
Because necessity is the mother of invention, great ideas and business plans are often born in the wild and emerge from a desire to improve our experience, performance, or comfort outdoors. Companies like Patagonia and The North Face were created by climbers who couldn’t find tools and clothing that met the demands of their adventures, and the REI Co-Op began as a way for mountaineers to buy quality equipment from Europe in bulk, to save costs and increase accessibility.
The spirit of entrepreneurship is still alive and well in the outdoor industry, and Camber Outdoors, the national organization that’s elevating and accelerating women’s leadership and participation in the outdoors, is making sure women have a seat at the table.
Now in its third year, Camber Outdoors Pitchfest is the only pitch competition created to inspire and drive innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship among women with a passion for the outdoors. The goal? To ensure the outdoor industry (where leadership skews heavily male) attracts bold, visionary women with a passion for business and being outside, while driving industry-wide innovation, creativity, and growth.
More than 60 women-led startups applied to pitch their business plans this year, and seven Pitchfest finalists were chosen based on the strength of their plans and potential impact on the outdoor experience and industry as a whole. They’ll receive mentorship over the eight weeks leading up to the event and pitch coaching before the big day.
On July 25, 2017, before Outdoor Retailer Summer Market opens its doors, these entrepreneurs will pitch their business plans to a panel of industry judges—and a room full of industry CEOs, entrepreneurs, and investors. They’ll receive live feedback, advice, and connections that will help them build their companies and amplify their brands. And some of them will catch the eye of VC funders to launch them from startup to industry star.
Since the first event in 2015, 19 women entrepreneurs have showcased their businesses at Pitchfest. Many of these startups have grown into successful companies, and founders cite Pitchfest as being pivotal to their business growth and traction.
“Being able to present my business and my vision to a panel (and room) of industry executives and have them applaud me for being on to something and encouraging me to think bigger really gave me a good boost,” said Maria Boustead of Pocampo. “Now when I look back over the my company's history, I look at things through the lens of pre-Pitchfest vs. post-Pitchfest.”
It’s fitting that Pitchfest is funded in part by a legacy grant honoring Mary Anderson, co-founder of REI. Anderson, who just passed away at age 107, was the quintessential head of a start-up. She served as product seamstress, stored inventory in her home, and produced the first REI catalogs. And she proved, beyond a doubt, that great outdoor-industry companies begin with an idea born in the wild.
To learn more or for an invitation to attend Pitchfest 2017, visit Camber Outdoors.
Women in the Wild is a movement that recognizes the amazing women athletes and enthusiasts who enrich the outdoor community with their passions, inspirations, and accomplishments every day. With support from OluKai, KEEN, and Mountain Hardwear and many more organizations, Outdoor Project is proud to grow this campaign in 2018 and to be a platform for the incredible stories and photography of women throughout our community. From in-depth interviews to female-focused content from the community to phenomenal gear and travel giveaway packages, each and every article is a celebration of the fortitude, strength, and camaraderie that comes with being part of Women in the Wild.