The east-coast’s only outdoor accelerator welcomes ten promising early stage companies into its highly competitive program
ASHEVILLE, NC—OCTOBER 21, 2021—Waypoint Accelerator announced today the 10 companies accepted into its third annual accelerator program, which launches November 2021 and continues through March 2022. The Waypoint Accelerator provides promising early-stage outdoor companies with focused support and resources to help elevate them to the next peak.
“I’m really blown away by the quality of applicants this year,” said Matt Godfrey, the Waypoint lead facilitator and Outdoor Industry Business Specialist for the SBTDC. “It really speaks to the fact that Western North Carolina is the outdoor industry hub of the east.”
“We’ve seen that over the past three years WNC has consistently exhibited growth and strength in the outdoor industry field and we are extremely proud to offer a program tailored to the specific needs of our region’s outdoor startups,” added Noah Wilson, Director of Sector Development at Mountain BizWorks.
Designed for early-stage, outdoor-focused companies, Waypoint combines an intensive startup curriculum with tailored mentorship from more than 80 seasoned advisors, drawing on the region’s thriving outdoor industry network. Waypoint also features strong access-to-capital connections but, unlike some other accelerator programs, doesn’t require participants to give up equity or take investment to participate.
The 10 companies making up the third Waypoint Cohort were selected from a highly competitive pool of 23 applications. Reflecting the growing diversity of the outdoor sector, two of the selected companies are owned by entrepreneurs of color, three are woman owned, and four are rural-based.
Cohort members include:
- Adventure Nerds – Adventure Nerds is a marketplace, network, and publishing company for hyper-specific mini guidebooks about multi-day outdoor adventures.
- Asheville Wellness Tours – Asheville Wellness Tours offers curated mini-retreats that support well-being and joy, connecting guests to nature, local business, and themselves
- FlyRabbit – FlyRabbit makes a useful tool for the fly fishing experience that pays for itself. When you lose flies, you lose money. We’ve solved that.
- Green Moose – Green Moose is an avocado based chocolate mousse, formulated to deliver quick, clean energy on the go. All the convenience without the compromise.
- Hellbender Paddleboards – Hellbender Paddleboards designs and creates paddleboards, paddling accessories, and apparel for people who are passionate about paddle boarding adventures.
- KidCycle Club – KidCycle Club is a family of biking enthusiasts who want to share the love of the outdoors with your family to develop confidence and connection.
- Meraki Components – Meraki Components provides mountain bikers with pedals that inspire confidence and push their riding boundaries.
- Timber Ninja Outdoors – Timber Ninja is an innovative manufacturer of mobile hunting gear that specializes in carbon fiber products.
- Trekroll – Trekroll is a roomy bedroll-style sleeping bag that includes a fitted air bed with a built-in foot pump and packs in a weatherproof carry duffel. Comfort on the road, in the field or at the campground. Machine washable grab & go sleeping gear manufactured in the USA.
- Urban Outdoors – Urban Outdoors empowers urban dwellers to participate in local outdoor adventure activities through content, resources, and community.
“I’m very excited to be participating in this unique accelerator program. Having the support and resources available, specifically for outdoor startup companies such as mine, is a huge resource in the community. WNC has always had a strong and supportive business culture and the presence of this program makes it more so.” said Walter Daniels, co-founder of Hellbender Paddleboards. “I’m looking forward to gaining some access to tools, industry-specific advice, as well as connecting with mentors that can help me navigate the nuances of starting and running a product-based business, which is new for me.”
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, represents a collaborative effort working to advance the WNC outdoor industry and related economic opportunities. The partnership is supported in part by seed funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Grant, which was just extended for an additional three years.
“We’re really happy to support the Waypoint Accelerator as it makes huge contributions to building the outdoor makers and providers of the future,” mentioned Laurel Scherer, Board Chair of the Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC. “The diversity of products, race, gender, and backgrounds of this third cohort is a great representation of what the outdoor industry in WNC has to offer.”
More information about the Waypoint Accelerator program is available at waypointaccelerator.com.
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.
Learn more at outdoorgearbuilders.com or join the conversation on Facebook at Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC.