For the second year in a row, Weber State University (WSU) has teamed up with Camping World to host and sponsor the three-day Outdoor Weber competition. The international contest invites college students to pitch their outdoor related business ideas in hopes of winning $75,000 in cash prizes, a legal package from Workman Nyedegger and a marketing package from Fluid Advertising.
The contest is geared towards growing the outdoor community in Ogden, Utah while providing feedback and funding for students who enter their business ideas. The end goal is to create new products, services and companies that will foster growth in Ogden, WSU and the outdoor recreation community.
Students are eligible to enter if they are enrolled in at least six credit hours during the Spring 2019 semester; teams can also include faculty, family or other professionals as long as one eligible student holds a position on the team. To enter, students are asked to create a 90-second pitch video that describes their outdoor recreation product or service idea and why it would be successful in the marketplace.
Video categories include technology, fashion, services, equipment, events, vehicles, non-profit and miscellaneous. Entries were accepted from Jan. 14 through Jan. 30 and are currently in the online voting phase. Twenty-five semifinalists will be determined based on the number of online votes each video receives between Feb. 1 and Feb. 15. Voters can cast a vote each day until voting closes.
Following the completion of online voting a panel of industry experts will invite 10 finalists to the final competition in Ogden beginning on March 20. The three-day competition gives participants the opportunity to refine their ideas in one of the world's most amazing outdoor playgrounds with help from world renowned outdoor recreation-based individuals and companies. The final event will be open to the public. Tickets are not yet available but will be sold on www.eventbrite.com.
The winning idea will be selected by a panel of judges at the end of the final competition and its creator will take home a $45,000 grand prize. Second and third prizes will take home $20,000 and $10,000 respectively. Past winners include Orindi Mask created by Jordan Vanderham and Jared Seifert from Grand Valley State University, Locker Lifestyle created by Katarina Samadzija Grand Valley State University, LIMID created by Kyle Moore, Cody Merrill and Parker Atkinson from Utah State University and Trail Tracker created by Zach Skoheim.
This year the contest received 87 entries, an increase of more than 5% compared to 2018. The entries represented 31 majors, 66% were outside of Utah, from 24 schools in 15 states. Brandon Stoddard, Director of the Hall Global Entrepreneurship Center at WSU, aims to grow the competition by possibly adding a Shark Tank style competition later this spring.
The purpose of this event is to stimulate new ideas and take unrefined concepts and turn them into promising business opportunities by the end of the competition. Online voting serves as a simulation of a live marketplace and helps to demonstrate what it really takes to market and sell a product or service. There are advantages to having a large network, however, as a new business, one must learn what it takes to get to market, prove a concept and scale.
“The idea of a Shark Tank style competition is to allow an investment panel to give feedback to students in real time,” Stoddard said, “Potentially, if an investor liked an idea they could immediately begin to fund that project and start moving forward with it. This also gives Utah investors a way to come and be involved on campus and in local entrepreneurial ventures.”
As a part of the event, Steve Hawk, former executive editor of Sierra Magazine and founding director of the Tony Hawk Foundation, will be giving an introductory keynote address at his Mountain Film screening at Peery’s Egyptian theater on March 20 at 7pm. Please visit https://www.weber.edu/artscalendar for more information and full schedule of events.
Voting for the current Outdoor Weber competition closes at 11:59 pm on February 15. Voters can place one vote per day. For more information and to cast a vote please visit www.outdoorweber.com.