College Outside: Equipping the next generation of outdoor leaders
Sarah Lockwood, A13, aims to create a centralized space for students to share everything they love relating to the outdoors. She founded College Outside to provide resources to over 150+ collegiate outing clubs and outdoor education programs.
Tufts Entrepreneurship Center recently spoke with Sarah to learn more on the lessons she has learned as an entrepreneur:
What kind of traction have you had since graduation? What are your current goals?
College Outside currently has 30,000 registered student users at 300 universities and we receive applications daily from new programs. We have contracts with over 50 of the leading brands and vendors in the outdoor industry. We have 4 employees and a dozen interns! Our goals over the next year are to double our user base, and expand our product offering to encompass 100% of the needs of university outdoor programs.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge was learning all about the Outdoor Education space, and how to best address the needs of the groups we work with in a meaningful way.
What are the major trends and opportunities in the outdoor gear space related to social impact?
We’re really excited about the increase in environmentally sustainable initiatives and products that are coming out. Younger consumers consider a product or a company’s sustainability as a top 3 decision-making factor when purchasing a new piece of gear. We also love the increase in product design that encompasses many different body types including wide hips, narrow shoulders, shorter frames etc. We especially love the trend of referring to this gear as built for a certain body type, versus the outdated “built for women” label (as if all women are short with narrow frames!)
What do you know now that you wish you could have known earlier?
I wish I could have known more about basic business and finance best practices. This was definitely a learn-as-you-go area of College Outside for me, one that probably created undue stress.
What is one piece of advice you have for Tufts students who are interested in or are starting their own venture now?
1) Don’t reinvent the wheel. 2) Pick a project that will make a positive impact on people or on the world. 3) Spend more time than you think you need learning about or working in the industry BEFORE you decide to launch a new venture. 4) Think about WHY you want to start your own venture. Is it to learn? Is it to create a balanced life for yourself? Is it to get positively filthy rich? Think about this honestly with yourself early on, as that clarity can help guide every decision you make going forward.
Follow Sarah’s adventures: @slockwood09