Spotlight on Pitchfest 2017

Photo Credit: John Evans

Pitchfest 2017 Finalists, from left: Jennifer Hannon, Amy Kemp, Christina Johnson, Emily Nielson, Aryn Schlichting, Gloria Hwang, and Anne Patterson 

Pitchfest 2017 was a huge success. We’re still buzzing from the entrepreneurial energy and the great connections, advice, and traction our seven finalists gained from their mentors, our amazing Pitchfest judges, and the awesome crowd at Petzl headquarters.

A bit of background: our Pitchfest 2017 finalists were selected from a pool of 47 applicants. Each finalist received eight weeks of one-on-one mentoring leading up to the event as well as a week of pitch coaching before the big day. On July 25th—the eve of the OR Summer Market—these finalists pitched their business plans to an all-star panel of judges and a room full of industry influencers, investors, and CEOs. And they rocked the house.

While the whole event was spectacular, three things really stand out to us as we reflect on this year’s pitches and the distinct approaches our finalists have taken to building businesses in the active-outdoor industries.

1. Companions, not competitors
Rather than seeing similar products and offerings as stealing market share, our finalists see them elevating and bringing awareness to their channels. Many spoke of having companions, not competitors, in their spaces, and we think that’s pretty darn cool.

2. Necessity really is the mother of invention
When women with an entrepreneurial spirit can’t find a product or service they need, they make it themselves. We heard it from our bike brands and our ski-town innovators alike: They were seeking something that didn’t exist, so they created it.

3. Great ideas are born in the wild
You know how food always tastes better when you’re camping? (Who’d have thought to turn that into a business plan!?) As many of us know, the best ideas often hit us when we’re in the backcountry … or on a long run or bike ride. While most of us don’t act on those ideas, this year’s finalists took big leaps and turned ideas into viable business plans.

If you missed Pitchfest 2017 (or want to see it again) you’re in luck. We recorded this year’s event thanks to our partners at Brandlive, and you can watch it here.

And if you want a quick peek at how awesome our Pitchfest 2017 finalists were, here’s a collection of our favorite sound bytes from each pitch:  

“We set out to create a brand that had some soul. … We hope we can do for cycling what LuLu Lemon has done for yoga.” —Jennifer Hannon of Machines For Freedom

“We don’t just cook food in the backcountry, we cook great food in the backcountry… . If people love their experience in the outdoors, they’ll want to protect the outdoors.” —Emily Nielson of Dirty Gourmet

“Professionals are looking for balance—they no longer want to choose between career and lifestyle. Now they can have both.” —Aryn Schlichting of Mountain Careers

“The landfill is our #1 competitor. It’s the cheapest, easiest solution on the market. … We want to change business as usual and close the loop on textile waste.” —Christina Johnson of Upcycle it Now

“We’re a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs in mountain towns … to incubate and accelerate new businesses and create experiences.” —Amy Kemp of ELEVATE

“Solovore means one who eats of the sun. … Solar cooking is great for tight spaces and a life on the go. We want people to move from freeze dried to from scratch.” —Anne Patterson of Solavore

“We want to save lives by rebranding the bike helmet. … We’re shifting the narrative from safety to style.” —Gloria Hwang of Thousand

Camber Outdoors Pitchfest drives innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship among women with a passion for the outdoors. Launched in 2015, Pitchfest has elevated 26 outdoor-industry entrepreneurs and helped accelerate their businesses. Pitchfest has been funded in part by The REI Foundation’s Mary Anderson Legacy Grant since its beginning. This year’s event was co-sponsored by Perkins Coie and Backcountry with livestream support from Brandlive.

Formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC)


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