REI Path Ahead Ventures launches Navigate accelerator program
Path Ahead Ventures, an initiative by specialty outdoor retailer REI, announced on Monday the launch of its Navigate accelerator program, which aims to support founders of color.
The 16-week Navigate program, developed in partnership with R/GA Ventures, will provide funding, mentorship, curated programming and access to REI's production, distribution, and marketing expertise.
In particular, each participating company will receive a $25,000 equity-free grant and have access to additional equity funding opportunities. Companies may also be eligible to be featured in REI stores and online.
Moreover, the program will connect founders to a network of peers, mentors and industry experts to support their continued growth. Other unique features include leadership and life coaching to support mental and emotional well-being, award-winning services in branding, messaging, and presenting, and more.
"Our Navigate program uses the substantial internal resources of REI and our external industry networks to support and mentor this unique group of founders," said Dan Kihanya, director of REI Path Ahead Ventures.
"We're excited about the products and perspectives they are bringing to the industry and look forward to partnering with them for their continued success throughout the program and beyond.”
Six companies were selected for the inaugural cohort. The cohort includes Allmansright by Livio Melo and Jennifer Jacobson; Alpine Parrot by Raquel Vélez; Kobee's by Kobe Harris; Outdoor Element by Mike Mojica; Oya by Mitch Gilbert; and PYNRS by Sidney Baptista.
Path Ahead Ventures partners with founders of color as they further their growth in the outdoor industry. It was first launched in October 2021 and represents a $30 million commitment by REI. Most recently, 27 founders graduated from Path Ahead Ventures' Embark program, which is focused on supporting early-stage founders as they launch their businesses.
REI is a growing community of 21.5 million members. It operates 175 locations in 41 states and the District of Columbia.
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