Industry News 6/17/2015

B$Z: Judges Announced for OIWC 2015 Pitchfest

The Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC), the only national organization dedicated to workplace diversity and inclusion by expanding opportunities for women and companies in the outdoor, snow, run, and bike industries, has announced the judges for their inaugural Pitchfest.  Pitchfest will take place the eve of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market on August 4th at Backcountry headquarters in Park City, Utah.

Judging this year’s OIWC Pitchfest are industry leaders and entrepreneurs with deep connections within the industry, proven business success, expertise in new product development and product to market systems, and a commitment to supporting entrepreneurship.

·         Jill Layfield, CEO of Backcountry

·         Koel Thomae, Co-founder/Chief Aussie Officer of Noosa Yoghurt

·         Matt Compton, Technology Entrepreneur and Investor

·         Dan Nordstrom, CEO of Outdoor Research

·         Jerry Stritzke, President and CEO of REI

“Pitchfest an exciting initiative that provides a dedicated channel for creativity and entrepreneurism among women with a passion and love for the outdoors,” explains Deanne Buck, OIWC Executive Director.  “These respected judges will provide insight, visibility, and valuable feedback to spark innovation within our industries.”

Finalists will be chosen based on their initial applications and invited to attend Pitchfest in Park City.  During the event, entrepreneurs from new, emerging, and early state companies will have five minutes to pitch their unique concepts, followed by a question and answer session.  All finalists will benefit from business-building services including exposure to media and potential investors, pitch training, and professional business consulting.

Deadline for submissions was extended to June 22, 2015.  Interested parties can learn more at oiwc.org/TheWorkshop. Pitchfest is the inaugural event of OIWC’s The Workshop, an entrepreneurial initiative funded in part by The REI Foundation’s Mary Anderson Legacy Grant.

About the Pitchfest Judges

Jill Layfield, CEO of Backcountry

In 2004, Jill Lay?eld joined a small eCommerce company called Backcountry.com as the Director of Customer Marketing, soon after moving up the ranks to take the helm as CEO in 2011.  At Backcountry, Jill sees thousands of products per year and has developed an eye for recognizing successful products in the outdoor space. Prior to Backcountry, Jill held positions with .com startups including Shutterfly, Infogear, and 8x8.

Koel Thomae, Co-founder/Chief Aussie Officer of Noosa Yoghurt

Koel Thomae co-founded and built one of the fastest growing yoghurt companies in the U.S., leading both sales and marketing for the first six years of the company’s life. Prior to her first entrepreneurial venture, she focused on operations management and supply chain initiatives for top brands including IZZE Beverage Company and Snikiddy. Koel is passionate about natural foods and regularly provides pro bono consulting for food entrepreneurs in their early start-up phases.

Matt Compton, Technology Entrepreneur and Investor

Matt has deep experience in marketing, digital media, software, and eCommerce from his tenures at Yahoo, in venture capital, and as a start-up CEO. Currently, Matt is involved in the start-up community in Seattle and Portland, investing in and advising entrepreneurs who are building new businesses.  He also serves on the boards of REI and the Access Fund, and has had a lifelong passion for outdoor adventure. 

Dan Nordstrom, CEO of Outdoor Research

Dan Nordstrom has been CEO of Outdoor Research since 2003.  Prior to that he spent 18 years at Nordstrom Inc. in a variety of roles that included CEO of Nordstrom.com and C0-President of Nordstrom Inc.  He is a passionate advocate for conservation and assuring Americans have access to human powered outdoor experience.

Jerry Stritzke, President and CEO of REI

Jerry Stritzke joined specialty outdoor retailer REI in Seattle in 2013, and leads the $2.2 billion retail co-op focused on helping its more than 5.5 million active members pursue an outdoor life. He joined REI from Coach, Inc., where he served as president and COO, and had a nine-year career with Limited Brands, Inc., the parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works.