Statistically, women make about 80-percent of purchasing decisions and overwhelmingly own the buying power of most households in America. Yet their involvement in the creation, ideation and implementation of new products, in any field, but specifically the outdoor industry, has been very low.
That’s what Deanne Buck, executive director of Outdoor Industries Coalition of Women (OWIC) is completely committed to changing. The OIWC is a national non-profit organization dedicated to workplace equity, diversity and inclusion by expanding opportunities for women in the outdoor, snow, bike and endurance markets. For much of the organization’s 20-year history, that focus has been on encouraging established corporations to evolve.
OWIC’s latest initiative is called PitchFest, and shows that the OIWC is also supporting and furthering women-founded companies and start ups. PitchFest, in its second year in 2016, provides women with the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to key leaders in the outdoor industry at a key industry gathering, the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, which takes place in early August.
But what separates PitchFest from some similar pitch-focused entrepreneurial opportunities is that capital is not the only end-game. As Deanne says, sometimes capital is not the most important thing. Sometimes, feedback and good advice is more valuable than money – let alone building a network in the market of focus.
Plus, not every company needs to be venture funded. It seems like a popular track for a start up to be pitching for capital, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for every business. Entrepreneurs need to be encouraged to move forward and not feel like less entrepreneurs because they didn’t get capital funding. As someone who has bootstrapped three start ups, I couldn’t agree more.
OWIC’s PitchFest is an amazing initiative that will facilitate real change in the industries, not only for female-founded companies, but also for entrepreneurs in general. It will also help more women evolve their leadership and have access to more opportunities. I’m very thankful to have Deanne on the show, so please join me in welcoming her to the Intrepid Entrepreneur!
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“Not only do we need to get more women into the outdoor industry, but the talent has to be high, and women should make up at least 50% of the workforce.” – Deanne Buck
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The Cliff Notes
- There is tremendous opportunity for talented women in the outdoor industry right now
- Outdoor companies need to spend more time understanding the woman consumer, not just for female products but all products, because statistics show that women make 80% of the buying decisions
- Feedback and good advice can be a far more important and rare commodity than capital
- The best part of being in the outdoor industry, as well as any other industry, is the relationships you form
- It’s important to peel back the layers underneath what you think your problem is, so that you can work on those problems, instead of the surface ones. For example, you may think that your problem is not enough buyers, when you wouldn’t even be able to fulfill orders if you had more buyers
- Don’t get caught up in the hype of venture capital. It doesn’t make you any less of an entrepreneur for not getting venture funding
- REI’s Mary Anderson Legacy Grant has truly catalyzed the reach and impact of the OIWC – I personally want to thank REI’s leadership for their authentic connection and support to the important work of the OIWC in our markets.
“Maybe you’ll never get outside venture funding, but that doesn’t make you any less of an entrepreneur.” – Deanne Buck
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Habit for Success
As an entrepreneur, don’t get stuck in the mindset that you need to receive venture capital funding to be legit. While that’s a hot topic right now, it’s actually not the right decision for a majority of startups.