What’s in a Pitchfest Entrepreneur? Meet the Finalists
— Wild Rye —
Behind every great idea is an inspired leader and a story—one that speaks of unique experiences, backgrounds, and paths. As Pitchfest 2018 nears, we’re diving in with our finalists to learn what drives them and what has shaped each of their journeys. This week, we spoke with Katy Hover-Smoot, co-founder of Wild Rye, to learn about her mission to make beautiful and technical outdoor apparel for women while welcoming all women into the outdoors.
What was the inspiration for starting your company, and how has it evolved?
I went mountain biking for the first time in 2011, and while the sport won me over, the apparel did not. It was a feeling I was familiar with as an avid skier and hiker, and I couldn’t understand why brands were increasingly paying attention to marketing to women, but not making product for them. So I started Wild Rye in 2016 to address this gap.
What is the mission and vision of your company? What does the future trajectory look like?
We make beautiful and technical outdoor apparel for women, but our vision is to welcome all women into the outdoors.
Why did you apply for Pitchfest, and what are you hoping to get out of your experience?
I wanted the opportunity to give Wild Rye a larger platform. We’re entirely bootstrapped without a formal advisory board, so Pitchfest is a chance for us to build a community of customers, investors, and advisors around the brand.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned, thus far, in founding your company?
Everything that can go wrong will. You will panic. And in less than 24 hours you will have a solution.
What did you not see coming, and how did you respond?
As a product company, we’ve experienced numerous product issues that were unexpected; Stitches in the wrong thread that break, elastic sewn inside out, you name it. We respond by fixing it, one issue at a time. Running a business isn’t about strategy or marketing, so much as it is about constant problem-solving!
What’s your superpower? Peristence
Outdoor adventure of choice for daily release? A bike
What book would you recommend? Anything by Nancy Mitford
Your number one outdoor hack? Duct tape around your ski pole for a million uses
One word that you think of when we say outdoors? Home
Pitchfest 2018 will commence on July 22 in Denver, CO at the Silverton Ballroom, Embassy Suites. Register here.
Prior to launching Wild Rye, Katy spent four years in the cycling industry working for the founder of Specialized Bikes, Mike Sinyard. While at Specialized, she identified a need for better mountain bike apparel for women and Wild Rye was born. Today, Katy lives in Tahoe with her dog Queso, where she tries to ski as much as possible, sometimes with mixed results.