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USU Students in National Outdoor Competition Need Your Votes

Thursday, Feb. 08, 2018

Outdoor Weber logo

Seven students from Utah State University’s Outdoor Product Design and Development program are competing in a national event that provides an opportunity for students to turn their unique product ideas into an actual business and walk away with $30,000. The Outdoor Weber competition is sponsored by Camping World and headquartered at Weber State University’s Hall Global Entrepreneurship Center. The decision about which projects move on to the final round of judging depends on public, online voting that is open through Thursday, February 15.

USU students Andy Thunell, Matt Stevens, Jake Van Wagoner, Kyle Moore, Haley Bennion, Chris Tibbets and Jayson Boren submitted brief video pitches describing their product or service and why it would be beneficial in the outdoor recreation industry. Ideas range from snowboarding and climbing equipment to youth outdoor camps.

Four USU student projects are currently ranked in the top 25 entries (two in the top four as of Feb 8). Sean Michael, director of USU’s OPDD program, said this isn’t surprising.

“The Outdoor Weber idea pitch is a perfect reflection of why Utah is at the forefront of today’s outdoor product markets,” Michael said. “Our state’s colleges are full of creative, entrepreneurial thinkers, and we’re not surprised that OPDD students are once again in the thick of the competition.”

Stevens decided to compete in the contest to jumpstart his business and said this program is a great motivator for future entrepreneurs.

“Far too many people have great ideas, but lack the motivation to make them a reality and a $30K purse works as great motivation,” Stevens said. “If I won, it would mean the world to me and the prize is more than enough to monetize my company. More than winning, I’m just happy to be a part of this competition and progress my company further along.”

While the cash prize will certainly be beneficial to starting a new business, Michael explained that the benefits to the students extend well beyond the $30,000.

“Aggie student designers have already been developing products and these competitions give them a chance to gain experience, as well as invaluable connections and financial backing,” he said.

The top 25 video submissions will proceed to the semi-finals. Ten participants will be selected to compete in the final event from March 22–24 in Ogden. During the 3-day event, students will improve their ideas by consulting with some of the top companies and professionals in the outdoor product industry. A panel of judges will then select the top idea and award the grand prize.

The public can help USU students advance to the semi-final round by voting for their favorite videos once a day per device until Thursday, Feb. 15. Watch student videos and vote for your favorites at

USU students’ product pitches are at the following links.

Jake Van Wagoner- Wake Life Jackets

Andy Thunell – Mountain Movement Adventure Camps

Kyle Moore – LIMID

Chris Tibbitts – K-9000

Haley Bennion – Jeanius Chalk Bags

Jayson Boren – Powder Soles

Matt Stevens – ToyShare

Writer: Aubree Thomas,
Contact: Sean Michael,                                                                 

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