Last week marked the fourth straight year that GroundFloor Media/CenterTable has sponsored The Wright – a Shark Tank–esque event focusing on Colorado companies who work in the outdoor/lifestyle industries, and love to give back to their respective communities. Companies are nominated, finalists are required to produce a short video about their business, a panel of judges narrows the list to three finalists at a live event and then questions those companies before selecting the winning contestant.
Some of these companies are big, some are small, some are new and some are more established. The common theme is that they’re all amazing Colorado-based companies who have great entrepreneurial spirit. It’s truly one of my favorite events each year – and one where everyone can learn a thing or two from the contestants. Here are a couple of things we took away from, or were reminded during the 2016 Wright:
- You don’t have to be the state’s fastest growing company to be successful. Vintage Overland made just 18 of its amazing teardrop trailers this past year, and plans to bump that up to 24 in the coming year. Their plans are for smart growth without compromising the quality of their product – a highly customized, quality product above all else.
- Success can also be measured by community impact. Ouray Ice Park started with a crazy idea to “farm” ice and create a man-made ice climbing park as a way to drum up business in the sleepy town of Ouray during the winter months. More than 20 years later the park draws a steady stream of climbers from all over the world during the winter months, bolstering businesses and creating hundreds of jobs not only in Ouray, but throughout southwest Colorado.
- There’s no such thing as dreaming too big. Whether its entering the crowded space of outdoor apparel because you believe you can do it better (like Corbeaux Clothing); or having the vision to make a world class kayaking river park and then developing a land plan that accounts for homes, rentals, hotels and multiple small businesses (like the winning contestant South Main), there is no such thing as being too ambitious.
- In business it’s hard to replace passion with anything else. The one thing every finalist had in common was that their business plans started with some sort of passion. From music, to a love of the backcountry, to the spirit of the wild west – The Wright reminds us every year that having unbelievable passion for what you do and putting purpose before profits is an incredible way to make a living.
Congratulations to all of The Wright finalists this year, and thanks for inspiring so many of us with the work you do and the products you make here in Colorado!