The room was buzzing with an entrepreneurial spirit and a hint of nervous tension when a diverse lineup of outdoor-related businesses gathered at Outsite’s Venice Beach house last week. They were there to pitch their ideas to a panel of angel investors featuring Per Welinder, former skateboarding world champion who started Birdhouse with Tony Hawk, Craig Cooper of CNBC’s Adventure Capitalist, Shaun Arora of Make in LA, and Amir Mortazavi of M-Projects, among others. It was an idea The Inertia and Outsite teams hatched just a few weeks earlier.
“Los Angeles is brimming with talented, driven entrepreneurs, and a lot of them are building businesses that align with their passions in surf and outdoors,” said The Inertia‘s Zach Weisberg. “After meeting Emmanuel and the team at Outsite, we both decided what better venue to connect folks on both sides of the table to hopefully make magic.”
Entrepreneurs presented ideas of varying theme and scale: Pre-established businesses like Inboard Tech, which appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank several years ago pitched alongside brand new startups with ambitious goals like the vitamin-electrolyte-juice beverage company who projects their value at $6 million. Many of the ideas gleamed with potential for the future of eco-business. For example, Indosole has figured out how to make shoe soles from discarded tires, and has visions of partnering with giants like Nike to make this the norm. Stokeshare, a San Francisco-based startup, wants to make the outdoors more accessible by creating sheds full of outdoor equipment for rent in an “Airbnb meets REI” fashion. Urban Barrels, whose flagship product, the bag-towel does exactly what you think it might, and it’s exceptionally convenient come summer beach days. The night’s final participant, 7Till8 Wetsuits, designs custom wetsuits for the discerning surfer. The passion that all these entrepreneurs displayed was contagious.
“The best part about starting a company is being able to chase your dream and set goals and really go after them,” said Urban Barrels‘ JP MacDonnell before coyly adding, “And also being able to set your own schedule and go surfing when you want.”
The judges had no shortage of honest advice and pointed questions. They showed interest in ideas with potential for longevity, as well as opportunities for “making a shit-ton of money and getting the hell out,” as Cooper phrased it. No outright deals were made that night, although a flurry of conversations started, which is always step one.
Keep an eye out for similar events with The Inertia and Outsite in the future.
Editor’s Note: Are you an entrepreneur or investor in the LA area hellbent on building an amazing action sports enterprise? Shoot us an email with more information to potentially participate in our next pitch event with Outsite.