Path Ahead Ventures, a new initiative from Seattle outdoor retailer REI, on Tuesday announced the six startups participating in its Navigate accelerator program that aims to help founders of color grow their businesses.
The 16-week program provides funding, mentorship, programming, and access to REI’s business expertise. REI partnered with R/GA Ventures to develop the program.
REI is investing $30 million into Path Ahead Ventures, which launched in October and aims to bolster inclusivity and representation. Earlier this year, REI supported 27 founders in its Embark program which has a focus on early-stage founders.
Six companies were selected for the inaugural cohort. Each founder will be offered a $25,000 equity-free grant, additional equity funding, and resources tailored to their companies’ needs.
Here’s more info about the selected startups:
Based in Bronx, N.Y., allmansright designs and produces sustainable ultralight gear. It aims to help protect and diversify the outdoors. allmansright was founded by Livio Melo, who has an industrial design degree, and Jennifer Jacobson, who has experience in merchandising, marketing, and event.
Based in Edgewater, Colo., Alpine Parrot creates technical outdoor apparel to encourage underrepresented people, namely people of size and people of color, to participate in the outdoors. It makes inclusive apparel in women’s sizes 14-24 and plans to include up to size 30 by the end of the year. Founder and CEO Raquel Vélez has extensive engineering experience.
Based in Las Vegas, Kobee’s creates organic, environmentally-conscious lip balm with a plastic-free policy. It strives to keep a low environmental impact by using lip balm tins made of recyclable aluminum and chapstick tubes that are compostable and biodegradable. Kobee’s is also committed to donating a percentage of sales to non-profit organizations working to clean the environment. It was founded by Kobe Harris, who has a bachelor’s degree in Finance.
Based in Englewood, Colo., Outdoor Element creates accessible outdoor adventure gear. Most gear is themed around fire creation and camp kitchens so customers are encouraged to safely explore the outdoors. Mike Mojica is a founder and partner with mechanical engineering experience.
Based in Los Angeles, OYA creates breathable apparel that helps athletes fight feminine health issues. Its apparel is absorbs moisture, has antimicrobial properties, and increases ventilation. Founder and CEO Mitchella Gilbert has an MBA and consulting experience.
Based in Dorchester, Mass., PYNRS uses high-performance recycled fabrics and streetwear design concepts to create technical running apparel. It strives to serve diverse body types. Founder and CEO Sidney Baptista has experience growing several companies.