In a state known for its natural beauty, outdoor adventures are a quintessential part of day-to-day life for people all over Utah. Many students attend the University of Utah because of its proximity to this natural landscape, but it’s not always easy to take advantage of.
Thomas Rash, Matthew Lebrecht, and Darin Pinedo, sophomore students at the University of Utah, saw this problem and decided to start Innovation Outdoors — an outdoor recreation company dedicated to making the outdoors accessible. Their first project is a foldable paddleboard that is easy to transport and store.
“We’re trying to make the wonderful world around us more accessible to everybody,” Lebrecht said. Their desire to pursue this came from Rash’s experience with the world of paddleboarding.
“I was a paddleboarding instructor a couple of years ago,” Rash said. “My mom has an inflatable paddleboard. She bought it for the issue of storage and space, but it was really hard to stand on.”
This gave Rash the idea to create a product that anyone with a passion for paddleboarding and the outdoors can take anywhere. More importantly, it can be stored anywhere — from a garage to a dorm room.
This idea led Rash to the Lassonde Founders program, where he was able to collaborate with experienced mentors and other student entrepreneurs. There, Rash realized he wanted to enlist help building his startup, which is where Pinedo and Lebrecht come in.
“I was a Founder last year,” Rash said. “This was the idea I came up with and worked on, but it was too big for me to do by myself. It led to getting an office and the three of us working on it together.”
They have been continuing to get involved with other programs at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute that help students get advice and funding for their startups.
“Everything is in one location at Lassonde. Between the Make Space, the Founders program, and the offices, everything that we could need to run our company is here,” Lebrecht said.
The three students are residents of Lassonde Studios and are currently studying at the David Eccles School of Business, with Lebrecht in business administration, Pinedo in finance, and Rash in operations and supply chain management.
The Innovation Outdoors team is optimistic about the future of their startup. They believe the University of Utah is one of the best places to find people who want to get outside, just like themselves.
Learn more about Innovation Outdoors here: https://www.innovation-outdoors.com/