8 outdoor companies will be selected to participate in a unique outdoor-focused
entrepreneurial development program
ASHEVILLE, NC—SEPTEMBER 2, 2021—Waypoint Accelerator announced today that applications are now open for the 3rd Cohort of the program targeting early-stage, outdoor-focused companies. This accelerator is the only program of its kind east of the Rockies and provides cohort members the unique ability to be embedded in a strong network of mentors and peers that can help refine their business model, provide critical feedback, and offer guidance toward their next waypoint for growth.
There is no coincidence that the program is based in Western North Carolina. Boasting a greater density of outdoor focused companies than anywhere else on the east coast, Western North Carolina serves as the perfect launching point for any outdoor entrepreneur interested in capitalizing on the growth potential of the outdoor industry.
“The growth of the outdoor industry has been one of the few bright spots of the pandemic,” said Matt Godfrey, the Waypoint lead facilitator and Outdoor Industry Specialist for the SBTDC. “With the network, experience, success of the mentors in the program coupled with the entrepreneurial expertise of Mountain BizWorks and industry growth potential, there is no better program or time to launch and grow an outdoor company.”
The outdoor accelerator, which is a partnership between Mountain BizWorks, the NC Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), and the Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC, is open to only eight ventures per year and set to take place in a semi-virtual format starting on November 4. The program components include action-focused peer cohort sessions, a robust outdoor industry mentor network, and assistance with access to growth capital. Cohort members will also receive VIP access to the 2022 Outdoor Economy Conference, booth space at the 2022 Get in Gear Fest, and a complimentary membership to the Outdoor Gear Builders association.
“Waypoint was one of the biggest step ups that our business has taken over the last three years. We are close to tripling our revenue since finishing Waypoint with lots of clear paths to continue our exponential growth” said Devin deHoll, Co-Founder/Owner of Asheville Adventure Company, Waypoint Accelerator Cohort 2. “The networking, the mentors, the content covered, the time spent to meditate and work on your business, is some of the most valuable time that we could have possibly taken in our early careers as entrepreneurs. Waypoint has elevated us beyond what I could have ever thought possible.”
Past Waypoint cohort members have also achieved impressive results. RockGeist, for example, a fast-growing company making custom gear for long distance endurance biking or “bikepacking,” participated in the first cohort of the Waypoint Accelerator. According to RockGeist’s owner and founder, Greg Hardy, “Having capital isn’t enough to find success if you don’t know what to do with that capital. So, step one was to focus on education.” The program, as Hardy explained, “taught me how to actually develop and grow the company into something productive and profitable.”
Interested outdoor companies can apply until September 27, with a live Info Session and Q&A set to take place on September 16 from 12 – 1pm.
Full program details and the online application are available at mountainbizworks.org/waypoint.
About Mountain BizWorks
Mountain BizWorks has been making business loans ranging from $1,000 to $350,000 to small businesses in Western North Carolina for over 30 years. They combine tailored small business lending, 1:1 coaching, and peer learning programs to help grow great businesses and expand economic opportunity. In 2018, Mountain BizWorks joined forces with others across the region to establish the Growing Outdoors Partnership, which is focused on elevating WNC’s outdoor industry sector. This partnership enables the organization to expand its mission of helping entrepreneurs overcome obstacles, grow strategically, and create jobs in the outdoor sector. For more: www.mountainbizworks.org.
About the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC)
The SBTDC is a business and technology development extension service of the North Carolina University System funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration. Providing no-fee confidential business coaching services, the SBTDC is committed to sharing knowledge, education and targeted resources enabling small and mid-sized businesses, emerging entrepreneurs and local/state leaders to innovate and succeed. For more information, visit sbtdc.org.
About Outdoor Gear Builders
The Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC (OGB) are Western North Carolina-based companies collaborating to share talents, encourage new ideas and inspire each other to grow our businesses and industry. The mission of the OGB is to cultivate, connect and support our community of outdoor industry leaders including outdoor gear manufacturers, outfitters, retailers, educators and experiential providers.