Pitchfest: Women to the Front


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Entrepreneurs, this one’s for you. Camber Outdoors, formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition, is now accepting applications for the Third Annual Pitchfest, held in Salt Lake City on July 25. But hurry—applications are due April 19th.

If you own a woman-led business and want to get it in front of some of the most influential people in the outdoor industry, you’re in the right place. If your application is accepted, you’ll be paired with a mentor for an intensive five-week boot camp to help you articulate the issues critical to growing your business. Then you’ll pitch your business live to a panel of incredibly influential judges and get real-time insight, visibility and feedback. Your prize is the mentorship, business-strategy fine-tuning, exposure and community building that happens through this process.

Disruption for Change

Disruption is the name of the game. Pitchfest is about restructuring the very makeup of the outdoor industry. “This is about disrupting who identifies as being outdoors as well as the products that are created for the outdoors,” says Deanne Buck, executive director of Camber Outdoors.

The legacy definition of outdoors—as made by and for men—is no longer good enough. The outdoor industry has historically driven innovation, but innovation by nature comes from a diverse set of minds solving previously unsolved problems. And today that diversity is lacking. Buck explains, “Through the REI Foundation’s Mary Anderson Legacy Grant, Pitchfest was created to give female entrepreneurs the visibility and platform to bring their fresh thinking, innovative ideas and passion for the outdoors to market.”

Laura Swapp, director of public affairs and next generation marketing at REI, tells us a little more: “The outdoor industry births and grows business through its (mostly male) network with the ‘I know a guy’ approach. At Pitchfest, you’re leap-frogging that informal network process that can shut women out.”

REI got involved through the Mary Anderson Legacy Grant because, as Swapp sees it, “Pitchfest is the most concrete creation of opportunity that I’ve seen us as an industry construct. Getting in front of the biggest outdoor CEOs would take a lifetime. Pitchfest made it happen now.”

Who Should Apply?

Apply if you have your own business and “love the outdoors and don’t feel like you’re currently represented or spoken to. This is a place for your voice, experience, expertise. Help evolve the way we all think about the outdoors,” says Buck.

Finalists are chosen with four criteria in mind:

  1. Demonstrated revenue and market traction.
  2. Business must be founded or co-founded by a woman and at least one-third woman-owned.
  3. Active-outdoor industry focused.
  4. In-person availability on July 25 in Salt Lake City.

Apply now. We need you.