In the past 20 years, Kristin Carpenter-Ogden has founded three successful companies from the small mountain town of Durango, Colorado, and helped nearly 200 outdoor and active lifestyle brands grow and connect to customers. But her latest venture, The Intrepid Entrepreneur, is different.
In an inspiring parallel, Kristin has founded The Intrepid Entrepreneur in order to support other founders of outdoor companies. “Choosing to work for yourself may sound glam, but it’s so not the easy road,” she says. That’s where Intrepid comes in: with her years of experience in the start-up scene, Kristin offers outdoor founders mentorship, feedback, and training to help their own companies succeed.
As founders of an outdoor-oriented publication, we were thrilled for the opportunity to talk with Kristin and learn more about her business, which is a finalist at the OIWC’s Pitchfest in Salt Lake on August 2nd — and we can’t wait to see her expertise in action in just two days!
What inspired you to found Intrepid Entrepreneur?
I founded Intrepid because I felt very strongly about the fact that the outdoor industries (outdoor, bike, snow, endurance) should be offering support to entrepreneurs. Our markets were literally founded and built by entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs bring the innovations that keep our customers coming back for more, and in that way, they provide industry and participation growth. Yet, there was no support for them.
I felt this first hand, as I’ve founded three companies in these industries over the past 20 years. I made it my mission to improve the statistic that 9 out of 10 entrepreneurial businesses fail in our industries.
After researching how to do this, I realized that a digital delivery mechanism (eLearning, virtual community and networking and mentorship) had not been deployed in a market-fluent way. So, I created the first digital platform to support the success of our entrepreneurs. I also have a huge passion for helping entrepreneurs - so that drives me too. My podcast, also called the Intrepid Entrepreneur, is all about showcasing our market’s most visionary founders to offer inspiration to the newcomers who will move our markets to the next level and beyond.
The response has been amazing!
What has your experience been like, so far, as a female entrepreneur in the outdoor industry?
I’ve always felt that the industry, collectively, has always done its best to support me as a female entrepreneur in these markets. However, that hasn’t equated to resources or specific mentorship.
I’ve always had a very motivated approach and an iron will that enabled me to seek out solutions and a way forward (there’s been a lot of trial and error as I’ve built my companies, let’s just put it that way).
To be honest, I’ve literally “felt” the entire time I’ve been in these markets (20 years) that the industry was rooting for me to succeed. As the CEO and Founder of Verde Brand Communications (we turn 15 years old in 2017), we’ve won business as a female-founded company. Verde’s been successful and continues to grow and I’m proud to say that Verde has a management team that’s 80% female.
I believe strongly that the industry wants more women in leadership, mentorship and high-visibility roles to obtain a more balanced landscape within the industry among male and female business owners.
It feels like that door is open but until recently, there hasn’t been a lot of support offered in terms of mentorship, training, and networking to guide female entrepreneurs in these markets. The OIWC is starting (through the PitchFest program and I’m sure more innovating programming to come) to expand their offerings around this, and I can’t wait to help bring those new programs to light.
Why did you decide now was the moment to apply for Pitchfest? What are you hoping you and Intrepid Entrepreneur will gain from the Pitchfest experience?
I decided to apply to PitchFest because Intrepid just passed its two-year mark in April of this year, and I need to build a team and find a fantastic operating partner to move it forward. What Intrepid offers is super important to the success and future growth of our markets - I’m very passionate about supporting entrepreneurs in our markets. It’s my hope that Intrepid will attract new people through this process, making our community and offerings stronger. In addition to visibility, I’m hoping to have mentorship from the judges and I’ve already received great mentorship from Ben Rifkin, of Royal Street Investment and Innovation Center (my PitchFest mentor).
Ultimately, it’s about getting Intrepid to it’s 2.0 so that we can serve more #outdoorfounders!
What are your goals for Intrepid Entrepreneur in the next year or two?
We’ll be up-leveling the A-Game Alliance, the world’s first private membership community built to power the success of #outdoorfounders, with more content and a stronger, more resourced community.
We’ll be incorporating more industry support into our eLearning, through connecting successful entrepreneurs in our markets with those just starting up.
We’ll be expanding our course offerings and coaching, including live events around the country.
We’ll be launching an expanded platform that includes a marketplace that connects investors to startups and also, consumers to our entrepreneurial companies.
And what has the mentorship side of Pitchfest been like, for you?
PItchFest has been very challenging, to be honest. When I commit to something, I really go for it, and for PitchFest that’s made my nights, mornings and weekends very full of work. I’m still very much in it to win it in my “day job” with Verde Brand Communications, and the PitchFest opportunity has occurred at the busiest time of year for us. But I felt it was very important to try to gain entry into the program, and when I did, I doubled down and worked super hard to get through it.
My mentor, Ben Rifkin, of Royal Street Investment and Innovation Center, has been an incredible support system for me. Just the process of building out a pitch deck has laser focused me on how to get Intrepid to the next level, and I feel that all of the practice in delivering the deck has definitely made me a far better presenter. I do a lot of proposal pitching at Verde and I feel this has upped my game exponentially!
Honestly, this entire experience has been very well run, very professional and highly resourced. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it…
What’s the best adventure you’ve been on recently?
Well, I’ve been working a lot this summer, but I have done some pretty amazing mountain bike rides around my home in Durango, Colo. Our trails are in epic condition this year and I got a new bike 🙂
In a sentence, what’s your perfect day outdoors?
Being up high in the Colorado mountains or on the river in the summer with my family and good friends, and my dog Coco, then going out for an awesome meal on a patio in a cool Colorado mountain town to round out the day. I also would throw in going for an evening walk - Being in a Colorado mountain town in the summer is pretty much the best thing ever!
This interview is part of our Women of Pitchfest series! Learn more about OIWC’s Pitchfest here.