'Knotty' typical business

Senior Cassie Meyer accepts the Project Springboard top award from Dr. Gerald Hills, Turner chair in entrepreneurship.

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By Abby Rhodes
April 26, 2011

Hunting is a billion-dollar industry in a big modernization rut. That’s according to senior entrepreneurship major Cassie Meyer, a lifelong outdoorswoman who saw a big opportunity in the growing prevalence of female hunters.

Knotty Outdoors, Meyer’s company designed to give men and women a modern alternative to hunting apparel and accessories took the top prize in Bradley’s 5th annual Project Springboard Business Plan Competition April 25.

“The number of women hunters is increasing every year – there were 163,000 new female hunters between 2008 and 2009 – but until now these women haven’t been able to find hunting apparel that fits them well,” Meyer said. “Our only competitors offer what they call ‘better fitting’ apparel, but Knotty Outdoors will use true measurements to ensure clothing that actually fits.”

Knotty Outdoors isn’t just a business plan. It’s already a growing company with a snappy motto: “Work hard. Play Knotty.”

Meyer, along with her brother and two friends, developed the idea for the company last October during the thick of hunting season. They quickly conceived a business plan, built a website and designed a line of casual wear to peddle at outdoor expos during the hunting off-season.

“We knew we had to move fast if we were going to hit the market and attract interest before the next hunting season,” said Meyer, whose team also produces hunting videos, children’s wear, drink insulators, and hats.

The Springboard award gives Knotty Outdoors the opportunity to add camouflage gear to their already popular line of sweatshirts and thermal long-sleeved T-shirts that bear the company’s logo. The prize package includes more than $100,000 in start-up support including a $10,000 cash prize; marketing and insurance consultation; legal services; office space in the Peoria Next Innovation Center; and accounting and technology assistance.

The mission of the Springboard Business Plan Competition is to provide real-life experience in business plan development for Bradley students.  This mission supports the University’s entrepreneurship major by continually encouraging and educating aspiring entrepreneurs in the creation, start up, and early growth stages of potentially high-growth businesses.

“The entrepreneurial spirit is growing on the Bradley campus and the success and excitement over this competition is an indication of that,” said Amy Fairfield Doering, director of Project Springboard.

In her address to Springboard competitors, judges, and guests Monday evening, Bradley President Joanne K. Glasser noted that the University has been ahead of the curve with entrepreneurship for years.

“Enrollment in our entrepreneurship major continues to grow. We are feeding the pipeline of tomorrow’s business leaders,” Glasser said.

Five teams vied for this year’s Springboard prizes. Kollecto, an online-based property management website which aims to “make passive income more passive” for landlords, took second place in the competition, winning $5,000. Third place and $2,000 went to Brave Start, a company designed to guide and support students through weight loss or weight management.