UTAH OUTDOOR REC STARTUPS READY TO SOAR
– Innovation Contest Awards $30K to Entrepreneurs Within Thriving Utah Industry –
OGDEN, UT, May 27, 2015 – American consumers spend more on outdoor recreation activities than gasoline and utilities- combined. To be exact, they spend $646 Billion, which equals the GDP of all of Switzerland. In Utah, outdoor recreation contributes $4.5 Billion annually to the local economy and continues to grow.
With abundant recreation areas nearby, and the state government climbing on board by creating the first ever Office of Outdoor Recreation in 2012, it’s no wonder that Utah entrepreneurs are also jumping into this growing industry.
“Utah is an incredible place to start an outdoor recreation business,” said T. Craig Bott, president & CEO of Grow Utah, a non-profit dedicated to accelerating economic development through entrepreneurship. “Where else can you build an outdoor product, test it right out your back door, find local investors, manufacturing providers, talented workforce, shipping infrastructure, and everything else needed to succeed. That is happening here, and it makes Utah very unique to this industry.”
Utah is churning out more and more outdoor rec innovations each year and supporters want to see it continue to grow. Case in point- Grow Utah’s 7h annual “Concept to Company” Outdoor Recreation Contest held last week in Ogden, a rising outdoor recreation town. The contest called for outdoor rec startups across the state to apply, and then awarded three of them $30,000 in cash and services to help get their product off the ground.
Organized by Grow Utah and co-hosted by Zion’s Bank, the contest was open to all new product or service innovations in the outdoor activities of hiking, camping, biking, paddlesports, snowsports and more. Innovations were judged by industry experts from local recreation companies like Black Diamond, Cotopaxi, Backcountry.com and others. Three winners were awarded a share of $30,000 in cash and services to help get their idea to market. Over 60 applicants applied and of that 10 finalists were invited to pitch at the final judging event in Ogden (see recap video at: https://youtu.be/siQGICSCwSg)
“The quality of the application pool this year was much higher and all 60 were very strong candidates. We are seeing a maturity amongst the startup community that is very exciting. Applicants are coming to the contest having fully tested their ideas in the marketplace and having gained consumer traction- all before even launching. It was really tough to narrow the field down to just 10 finalists and it speaks to the high caliber of the startup community here in Utah,” said Bott.
The finalists and winners of the contest were:
InFuze Flavoring System by InFuze (Grand Prize Winner) – Infuze is an inline flavoring system that attaches to any hydration pack. It allows users to go from plain water to flavor and electrolyte options in seconds. www.infuzehydration.com
Fogo, by Fogo Digital (Runner Up Winner) – Fogo is the ultimate adventure gadget with a built-in flashlight, GPS, Bluetooth, backup battery, digital walkie-talkie, and app-friendly interface. http://fogo.io
Original ArmPack, by RunBand (Runner Up Winner) – The Armpack is an innovative hybrid of the fanny pack & armband. With five unique pockets, its sleek design is the next generation of personal storage while running, cycling, and more. www.RUNBAND.us
The Prival Daily Kit, by Prival Concepts (Crowd Favorite Winner) – The Daily Kit is a lightweight, compact, avalanche safety kit. www.privalusa.com
3D Terrain Maps, by CreoTree – CreoTre has developed a new style of consumer and corporate 3-D terrain maps using 3-D printers. Crafted in Utah, these maps will assist outdoor recreators to plan and understand the geography they enjoy.
Avalanche Safety System, by Outdoor Safety Solutions – The Avalanche Safety System is a unique helmet and backpack design that protects the winter recreationalist from suffocation due to burial in an avalanche.
Plan Go Share, by PGS– Plan Go Share is turn-by-turn trail navigation app for the iPhone and the Apple Watch.
Sol Guide Certification – Sol Guide certification is a specialty certification that teaches fitness professionals and recreation-minded individuals how to lead outdoor fitness experiences using a method that integrates traditional fitness modalities, mindfulness disciplines, and outdoor guide skills. www.melaniewebbsolguide.com
Onblay.com – Onblay is the AirBnB of outdoor adventure tourism. Onblay is an online marketplace that connects people looking to share their skills or equipment with people who are looking for adventure. www.onblay.com
SpekPack – SpekPack is a unique cart rolling cart that bundles everything a family needs for a day at the park or mountain picnic. It bundles chairs, shade, cooler, etc. into a stress-free, one person pack. www.spekpack.com
“When our name came up on that screen as the Grand Prize winner, I was shocked and couldn’t believe it”, said Danny Noal, President of InFuze. “I can’t express how grateful I am to win this contest. This money will go a long ways towards helping us enter the production phase of our business and start selling product.”
Community supporters of entrepreneurism stepped up to offer the cash and services for this year’s contest. The cash prizes were funded by Grow Utah, SEED Weber-Davis-Morgan, and NorthFront Business Resource Center. The service/gear prizes were offered by Espiritu Design, Cotopaxi, Durham Jones & Pinegar Law, Adventure Gear Fest. Underwriters of the yearly contests include Zion’s Bank, Mountain West Small Business Finance, USTAR, and Durham Jones.
“The winners of this contest were surrounded with money and fantastic services to help get their idea off the ground”, said Tara McKee, Office of Outdoor Recreation Coordinator. “Entrepreneurs often need that extra little push to get them started and this contest provided just that. We’re excited to see them take off here in Utah.”
Utah’s outdoor recreation industry shows no signs of slowing down. With the $4.5 Billion economic impact at stake, it has become a force to be reckoned with in the Beehive state. With talented entrepreneurs and abundant testing grounds (and slopes), the future looks bright for Utah’s outdoor rec startups.
About Grow Utah
Grow Utah, is a privately funded non-profit organization dedicated to accelerate the creation of innovative, entrepreneur-led, high-growth businesses that will strengthen and expand the future growth of Utah’s economy.
The vision of Grow Utah is to create a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in Utah that fosters entrepreneurial talent, drives innovation to solve market needs, aligns community resources and support, and ensures funding for products, entrepreneurs and businesses of promise.
To date, Grow Utah’s Concept to Company contests have distributed more than $1M in prize money and services amongst 23 contests and have helped launch over 130 companies. For more information, visit www.GrowUtah.com