Press Release: Calling WNC Outdoor Startups: Introducing Waypoint Accelerator

Share via

Mountain BizWorks and Outdoor Gear Builders launch new entrepreneurial accelerator for the next generation of great outdoor businesses

Asheville, NC (June 20, 2019)Sparked by the active, outdoor lifestyle in Western North Carolina (WNC) and our region’s adventurous entrepreneurial spirit, Mountain BizWorks, the Outdoor Gear Builders, and several other strategic partners introduce the Waypoint Accelerator.

Waypoint will be the first outdoor business accelerator program in the Eastern U.S. and the third program of its kind nationally. The program was unveiled to an international outdoor industry audience on Wednesday at the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow in Denver, Colorado.

Several WNC partners helped launch the Waypoint Accelerator at the Outdoor Retailer show. Thanks to EDPNC & the NC Outdoor Recreation Industry Office for hosting the announcement at their booth.

“The response has been terrific,” stated Sophia Paulos, economic development director for Graham County and a Mountain BizWorks board member who participated in the announcement. “Outdoor leaders from across the country shared their excitement for this new resource and all the things that make Western North Carolina a great place to start and grow an outdoor business.”

Business accelerators are programs that provide focused support and resources to help entrepreneurs start new businesses with strong growth potential. The Waypoint Accelerator will uniquely focus on outdoor startups including gear makers, experience providers, and more. The program aims to serve a cohort of 8 companies each year.

Participants will complete a 10 session intensive curriculum and will have access to specialized mentorship from the region’s existing industry network – including tapping into the 40 member strong Outdoor Gear Builders. Waypoint also features strong access-to-capital connections but unlike some accelerators, participants won’t have to give up any equity or take an investment to participate. Further, thanks to seed funding for the program from the Appalachian Regional Commission and others, there’s no cost for the first year’s program.

“The timing couldn’t be better for the Waypoint Accelerator in Western North Carolina,” adds Matt Godfrey, the Waypoint lead facilitator, and an Outdoor Gear Builders board member. “Not only have we experienced a tremendous amount of growth in our outdoor sector, but the level of collaboration and support between companies is something I’ve never experienced. We look forward to welcoming more innovative brands into our family of outdoor gear builders and experiential companies.”

The program is welcoming applications for the first cohort through August 11th with a focus on those based in Western North Carolina, and those looking to locate in the area. The inaugural cohort will be unveiled and will have an opportunity to present at the Outdoor Economy Conference in October, and the program will conclude at the annual Get in Gear Fest in March 2020. Full program details and the application form are available online at

Are you located in the WNC region and ready to take your outdoor startup or concept to the next level? Join the program leaders and other outdoor entrepreneurs at one of the upcoming Waypoint Accelerator informational sessions which will be held July 24th in Asheville, July 30th via a webinar, and August 1st in Boone. Registration information is on the program website.


Media Contact: Rebekah Wallace,, 828-424-8039


Mountain BizWorks is a U.S. Treasury certified non-profit community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides tailored small business lending and peer learning programs to help grow great businesses and expand economic opportunity in Western North Carolina. In 2018, Mountain BizWorks joined forces with others across the region to establish the Growing Outdoors Partnership focused on elevating WNC’s outdoor industry sector. For more:



The Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC are Western North Carolina-based companies collaborating to share talents, encourage new ideas and inspire each other. Our member brands are dedicated to creating exceptional outdoor gear with a focus on responsible manufacturing, cutting edge innovation, and economic growth in our region. Our motto is: “Extraordinary Gear Made Here.” For more:


Come to an Orientation Session to quickly find your path forward.

Our orientation sessions are a great way to get the lay of the land at Mountain BizWorks before you set off to create all that you dream!

Save your spot

Stop wondering what if, and just start. Our bet is you have what it takes.

Make it happen


See what Mountain BizWorks can do for you.

No matter your business type or experience level, we have resources to help you find your path to creating a business from your dream—and get better as you grow.

High-touch business courses
Customized business coaching
Get funding
Start investing


Stay connected to the local community of entreprenuers with Mountain BizWorks.

We use our newsletter to keep the community together on all things small business in the WNC region. Learn about events, classes, funding opportunities, and more!