Welcome to Coffee Talk with the Darby Crew, where we get the inside scoop from our favorite voices in the outdoor, fitness, and wellness industries. This month, we’re checking in with Matt Godfrey on his big plans for the Waypoint Accelerator program, Outdoor Gear Builders, and more!
Business Coach/Educator, Fractional CFO, and Director of the Waypoint Outdoor Business Accelerator Program
Let’s pretend it’s a sunny 70 degree day in WNC. Where would we find you?
Hiking, fly fishing, camping with my family, or sharing a pint with my wife/friends at a local watering hole—preferably all in the same day!
Best watering hole in the 828?
Soon to be Big Pillow Brewery in Hot Springs, NC (opening early summer from what I’ve been told). I’ve sampled some of their brewer’s creations, and they are splendid.
What are you listening to on your playlist right now?
Are you a podcast guy? If so, what podcast should we check out that you’ve been digging recently?
I’m not sure that everyone knows about the great work happening with the Waypoint Accelerator program, the first outdoor business accelerator program in the Eastern U.S. and the third program of its kind nationally. Can you share with us some highlights from the program so far?
Yes, we couldn’t be more pleased with how it all has come together. The concept for this type of business accelerator program, focusing specifically on outdoor-focused businesses, was born out of the Growing Outdoors Partnership of WNC and a grant submittal to the Appalachian Regional Coalition. The two main partners in the development and execution of Waypoint are the Outdoor Gear Builders (OGB) and Mountain BizWorks.
Combining the wealth of outdoor industry knowledge from our OGB member companies and the business education programming and delivery expertise of Mountain BizWorks, we were able to develop a model focused on connections and solid business fundamentals with the goal of accelerating each company to their next stage of growth.
Through a competitive application process, we had 26 outdoor-focused companies apply for this first cohort, and we accepted 10 strong, early-stage companies from around WNC. There are 10 curriculum-based sessions that take place in Asheville along with a heavy focus on mentorship from many OGB members and other professionals in the local outdoor industry.
The start of the program was rather intense, as each company was asked to develop a pitch for their business and deliver it at the Outdoor Biz Pitch event, part of the opening reception for the Outdoor Economy Conference. This was only three weeks into the program, but it forced each company to think critically about their model, which really helped set the stage for the rest of the program.
We have three sessions remaining, with a final showcase of the participating companies on display at the OGB’s annual Get In Gear Festival on March 21 at the Salvage Station.
There are several stories to tell and many great outcomes for the cohort expected ahead, because of the work they and everyone else involved has contributed. The success of the Waypoint Accelerator is a direct result of the many wonderful advisors and mentors who have offered their time and experience to help give back in a positive way. A true testament to the collaborative culture of our outdoor industry here in WNC.
As the newly elected board chair for the OGB, can you share with our readers a little bit about the OGB and where you see it heading in the next year?
Seven years ago, the OGB formed as a business association of outdoor gear manufacturers in Western North Carolina collaborating to create exceptional outdoor gear with a focus on responsible manufacturing, cutting-edge innovation, and economic growth throughout the region. Beginning with a handful of outdoor gear designers and makers, this first-of-its-kind association in the outdoor industry has grown to over 50 members strong.
The OGB has been a force in the economic development of WNC by heightening the region’s outdoor industry profile and being a large contributor to North Carolina’s $28 billion outdoor recreation industry. In just the past year, the organization became a 501c and former OGB board chair and co-founder Amy Allison became the NC Outdoor Recreation Industry Office Director.
As the OGB continues to evolve, we recognize the spirit of collaboration and support for each other goes beyond just the outdoor gear builders and that we must look to connect other core segments of our collective outdoor industry ecosystem. For example, the gear manufacturers rely upon the experiential service providers and retailers to educate, excite, and grow a consumer base of outdoor enthusiasts who, in turn, buy our gear. The conservation organizations and other outdoor-focused organizations, both public and private, are equally important as they help conserve, protect, and maintain the areas where we play and use gear.
Therefore, as we look ahead, one could say the OGB is a business association, made up of Western North Carolina-based outdoor industry companies with a commitment to cultivate, connect, and support a community of outdoor industry leaders.
What regions does the OGB encompass?
Primarily the 24 counties that make up Western North Carolina. There have been discussions over the years of expanding to include the rest of the state and/or the bordering regions in VA, TN, SC, and GA. However, before we can even entertain that type of model, we need to make sure we have built a solid foundation that truly supports the outdoor leaders and maintains a healthy infrastructure of the natural places where we like to play within our current footprint. Alternatively, I think there are ways we can collaborate with other regions to help them build a cluster network similar to ours and make it their own. We all want the same thing, and that is a prosperous outdoor community that places the same level of importance on stakeholders as it does the actions required to manage, maintain, and protect areas where we recreate now and for the generations ahead.
Share with us why a brand should consider joining the OGB. What are the benefits for small and big brands?
Shared knowledge, resources, and best practices and a community of dedicated outdoor industry professionals collaborating to lift each other up and grow together. Those are my words, but I think this testimonial from Kyle Mundt, VP of New Product Development at SylvanSport and OGB Board Vice Chair and co-founder, says it best:
“The OGB was created to unify and help amplify the voice of local WNC outdoor gear manufacturers. Since its inception, it has grown in ways I never could have anticipated. Collective manufacturing support, PR and media exposure, start-up growth and mentorship, local and state government assistance in trade, grants, manufacturing resources, seminars, lunch and learns, direct access to NC government leaders…the list is endless. Having the OGB as a resource, particularly for new and smaller companies, has been invaluable.”
What are you most excited about for the OGB in 2020?
I’m most excited about our potential to build upon the work and contributions of so many talented individuals these past 7 years. Now is the time to tell our story and engage others in the community to help grow our industry the right way and within a value-driven culture. Oh, and the most badass Get in Gear Festival ever on March 21 at the Salvage Station! Mark your calendars. You won’t want to miss this one.
Anything else you’d like to share that we didn’t ask today?
I don’t know….blood type?…birth sign? 🙂
Visit our Instagram if you’re dying to know Matt’s birth sign and if he could meet anyone present or past, who it would be and why?