April 1, 2014 Updated: April 2, 2014 at 7:56 am
A startup company that rents winter sports clothing online has big plans to expand the service globally and capture a major part of the $53 billion ski products market.
On Tuesday, GetOutfitted took a major step toward its goal by winning the $25,000 first prize in the Colorado College Battle of the Big Ideas competition.
GetOutfitted plans to use the money to set up a network of ski resorts and related businesses to market the service to skiers visiting their resorts, said Julian Flores, founder of the Colorado Springs-based company that already has attracted $100,000 from wealthy individuals known as "angel investors."
The network will help the company "branch out to ski resorts and travel agencies and really expand our customer base by having them send customers our way," said Marcel Gremaud, a Colorado College student who works with Flores on GetOutfitted and presented the company's plans with him at the competition.
The company plans to add ski equipment to its product line, and is seeking additional investments to buy inventory and launch a national marketing campaign.
The Big Ideas competition, now in its second year, aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among CC's 2,000 students and foster startups that either develop "dramatic" innovations or create small businesses and ventures that bring social impact and value.
Any student, regardless of academic major, can enter and join teams of two to eight people. At least half of the team have to be made up of CC students, but other members can include college staff, faculty, alumni or any state resident with some connection to CC.
The ventures must be less than four years old. They also must have produced less than $1 million in revenue last year, and received less than $250,000 in funding from friends, family or "angel investors.
This year's competition, which began in January with startup bootcamp, attracted 14 teams. That number was whittled down to the seven finalists who made presentations a panel of five judges.
The judges awarded the $15,000 second prize to Koldsnapp, a Web-based service that uses automated sensors and cloud-based software to monitor commercial refrigerators and freezers to prevent food spoilage. A $10,000 third-place prize will be split between Colorado Springs Food Rescue and Semester in Environmental Education. The food rescue enterprise wants to intercept perishable food that is being thrown away and get it to charities that serve homeless and low-income people. The latter is an educational partnership between the college and Catamount Center on the north slope of Pikes Peak that will be piloted this fall.
The panel included Brenda Smith, a partner in the Garden of the Gods Club; Karen Kerr, who most recently ran an entrepreneurship program at the University of Southern California; Andrew Pyper, a best-selling author; Mike Slade, a CC graduate and trustee who held executive posts at Microsoft, NeXT Computer and Apple and now runs a Seattle venture capital firm; and Bob Selig, another CC trustee who is president of Davis Instruments, a manufacturer of instruments for weather, marine and automotive uses.
The three other finalists in the competition included:
- CityRoots, which was started in 2012 to design hydroponic and aquaponic systems to produce fish and produce for sale to restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets, and won a $2,000 third prize in last year's competition.
- Kadi Energy, which is developing a solar-powered charger for mobile phone users in Ghana, where electric service is inconsistent and expensive.
- Wadi Climbing, which plans to open the first climbing gym in the West Bank.
Last year, judges awarded the top prize of $38,000 to Brayn, a company started by a CC student and alumnus to develop a smartphone application for measuring brain waves of people with epilepsy. The panel also awarded $10,000 to a company that wants to create a market for luxury accessories from traditional handicrafts and products made by rural residents of Ecuador and $2,000 to CityRoots.
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