An East Coast First: ‘Accelerator’ Helps Outdoor Brands Grow

Calling all gearmakers and small outdoor brands: The Waypoint Accelerator wants to help outdoor businesses grow.

It’s not easy starting a new business. From tents to hammocks to clothing, there are a lot of small brands out there making awesome gear. It can be hard to stand out, survive, and reach the next level.

But the Asheville, North Carolina-based Waypoint Accelerator wants to make it a little easier. Through mentorship, classes, and access to funding, businesses will have the opportunity to learn new skills and expand effectively.

An East Coast First

outdoor brands
WNC outdoor brands on display

There are a few outdoor-focused accelerators in the American West, such as Catapult Outdoor Accelerator in Colorado and Bend Outdoor Worx in Oregon. But Waypoint is the first of its kind in on the East Coast. And it comes as no surprise that Western North Carolina (WNC) is the perfect place for such a venture.

“The timing couldn’t be better for the Waypoint Accelerator in WNC,” said Matt Godfrey, the Waypoint lead facilitator and an Outdoor Gear Builders board member. “Not only have we experienced a tremendous amount of growth in our outdoor sector, but the level of collaboration and support between the companies is something I’ve never experienced. We look forward to welcoming more innovative brands into our family of outdoor gear builders and experiential companies.”

Better Together

One of the most unique things about Waypoint — and the entire WNC outdoor business scene — is connection and support to a like-minded community. The 40-member strong Outdoor Gear Builders group includes brands like ENO, Astral, and SylvanSport, and provides unmatched support for growing brands.

By sharing ideas and supporting each other, these East Coast brands are able to expand and help their communities. Not only does this mean innovative new gear, but it also has a major impact on the WNC region. These brands have created more than 760 jobs region-wide, and well over $8,000,000 in local sourcing of materials and contracts.

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Applications Open

The Waypoint Accelerator is searching for eight early-stage, outdoor-focused companies to join the annual program. Once selected, these companies will begin a 10-session intensive curriculum and mentorship program designed to leverage the area’s unique industry network. This includes tapping into the 40-member strong Outdoor Gear Builders — and exceptional training and support resources.

The program is focused on growing the next, best, and raddest outdoor brands in WNC. Through August 11, it will welcome applications from businesses within the region and those looking to locate to the area. To learn more, visit the Waypoint Accelerator’s website.

Mallory Paige

Gear Editor Mallory Paige credits a childhood exploring the Rocky Mountains for her love of the outdoors. She recently spent a memorable year motorcycle camping across North America (with her dog!) and is now enjoying introducing her baby girl to all manner of adventure.