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College Students: Your Big Outdoor Idea Could Be Worth $45K

Outdoor Weber competition
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Photo credit: Bryan Butterfield

Weber State University in Utah wants to know what gear you think the outdoor industry needs. The best idea receives a big cash prize to make it a reality.

Have you ever wondered why nobody has invented “that thing” yet? You know, that one piece of gear that would have made your outdoor adventure easier, safer, or more comfortable?

If so, then you might be eligible for the $45,000 grand prize in Weber State University’s Outdoor Idea Competition. First conceived two years ago, the competition will officially convene its second annual event next year. And it will be bigger and more prestigious than ever.

And while college students are the focus of the competition, anyone can get involved — with a few caveats.

With Camping World signed on as the title sponsor, the competition will award $75,000 total to the top three outdoor gear innovations. And the idea is to help seed those ideas and grow them into upstart outdoor brands. Sound interesting? Check out the details below.

Weber Outdoor Idea Competition

Outdoor Weber Idea Competition
2018 Weber Outdoor winners, Jordan Vanderham and Jared Seifert, for the Orindi Mask

First things first: This is a college competition, so college students are the focus. But nonstudents can still participate; they just have to be part of a team led by an enrolled university student.

The competition begins Jan. 14, 2019. To participate, entrants must submit a video up to 90 seconds long that pitches the idea. And the criteria are wide open. Weber State suggests categories like technology, fashion, vehicles, and equipment. But according to event organizers, the only real stipulation is “anything that you can imagine to make money outdoors!”

Here are a few more considerations to help focus your ideas:

  1. Is there a real, “attractive” market for this product?
  2. Is it viable? How much will it cost to produce and sell?
  3. Does it employ intellectual property?
  4. Does it have a competitive advantage over existing products?

Here’s how it works: Submit a 90-second video (and not one second longer) by Jan. 30, 2019. Your idea must relate to outdoor recreation or it will be disqualified. Then, for two weeks between Feb. 1 and Feb. 15, online voting will open to the public, so plan to promote your idea like crazy. The 25 top vote-getters will move on to the semifinals. Plus, a panel of judges will select 10 additional concepts from regions around the U.S. to move on to the semis.

From those 35 ideas, a group of “industry experts” will whittle down to a pool of 10 finalists. Those finalists will receive an invite to Ogden, Utah, for a three-day pitch fest from March 20 to 23. Once there, the finalists will receive onsite mentorship from industry experts to refine their business ideas.

The event culminates with a final round of judging to award the $45,000 grand prize, $20,000 second-place prize, and $10,000 third-place prize. For full rules and guidelines, check out the Weber Outdoor Idea Competition rules page.

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