College Students! This Tufts Startup Gets You PRO Pricing On Your Favorite Outdoor Brands
For many of us, college was one of the more financially lean times in our lives. Balancing the academic and social obligations of university life makes it nearly impossible for students to hold jobs that pay well or offer full-time hours. As a result, affordability is a major requirement for any experience which is a disappointing reality given that college students are so curious to learn and grow. Fortunately, one entrepreneur has developed a way to lower the cost barrier for students who want to get outside of the classroom and learn more about outdoor adventuring.
Founded in 2015 by Tufts graduate, Sarah Lockwood, College Outside helps collegiate outdoor groups purchase high-quality gear and accessories at a discounted rate from top brands. Based in Carpinteria, CA, the startup has grown quickly over the last six years and now partners with hundreds of universities all across the country.
The Collegiate Sales Channel For The Outdoor Industry
Without a platform like College Outside, university outdoor groups typically have to work with gear and accessory vendors individually to secure discounted pricing on a per item basis. This is a laborious process that neither college students nor vendors are particularly interested in. As a result, college groups are disincentivized to grow beyond their existing inventory and students have to pay full retail price for expensive outdoor sports products. College Outside transforms this experience by providing a central location through which groups can order discounted clothing and gear from over 50 top brands. By ordering in bulk, College Outside unlocks wholesale (or better than wholesale) pricing that can then be passed on to cost-conscious students.
In order to gain access to the site, college groups have to apply and provide evidence of their legitimacy and commitment to outdoor education. Once accepted, group leaders and students can browse the site and order equipment and clothing for any kind of adventure. The company’s catalog consists of gear for biking, climbing, hiking, camping, paddling, and winter sports. Additionally, College Outdoors sponsors on-campus events and leadership retreats for those who have a passion for the outdoors, as well as provides education on how to build successful university outdoor clubs.
Inspiring The Next Generation Of Environmental Leaders And Outdoor Enthusiasts
When College Outside was founded in 2015, the leadership team initially focused on facilitating events for student leaders from various colleges to discuss outdoor education programming. Through those conversations, Founder Sarah Lockwood realized there was a major roadblock preventing more students from enjoying outdoor experiences.
“The missing component and major barrier to getting more people outside was simply access to gear and equipment,” says Lockwood.
“If you only have 10 backpacks, you can only take 10 students outside.”
Since then, College Outside has grown to support more than 300 university outdoor programs in 45 states. In total, more than 25,000 students have access to the online catalog. The startup is also a member of One Percent For The Planet, an international organization comprised of members that commit to donating 1% of total sales to environmental causes. Looking to the future, Lockwood wants to expand College Outside’s impact by supporting students who are seeking employment in the outdoor industry and help new brands reach the college market.
LISTEN To Your Target Audience
This Untold College Spotlight reminds us to listen carefully to the thoughts and opinions of those within our respective segments. Sarah Lockwood’s inspiration for College Outside was born out of conversations that she had with other university outdoor club leaders. She identified a common challenge and built a powerful platform that benefits both college groups and major brands.
As an entrepreneur, it is so important that you are in tune with the needs of your target market. When you truly understand your customers’ problems, you can create a differential solution with an undeniable value proposition. For those of you interested in learning more about how College Outside can help more of your classmates experience the outdoors, check out the company’s website here!