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Western Outdoor Industry MBA student featured in Denver Business Journal

Western Outdoor Industry MBA student featured in Denver Business Journal

Western graduate student Sam Degenhard was recently featured in an article published by the Denver Business Journal regarding his pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunities in Colorado’s newly established opportunity zones.

These zones, established by the state of Colorado, serve as federal tax incentives that seek to bring economic prosperity to low-income urban and rural communities across the state. In exchange for investing in these zones, investors in this program are provided with tax forgiveness on new capital gains.

Degenhard, member of Western’s first Outdoor Industry MBA cohort, hopes to launch Campfire Ranch, a startup business geared toward millennial and Generation Z campers, through this incentive. As a lifelong outdoor enthusiast, he took a new and innovative approach to the outdoors.

“Private campgrounds haven’t changed in 40 years and public campgrounds are booked to the max and provide virtually no amenities. I decided to pursue solving this issue by starting Campfire Ranch,” said Degenhard.

In establishing Campfire Ranch, Degenhard will work to provide campers with not only amenities found at standard campgrounds, but also new features such as a communal kitchen space and outdoor learning areas. In doing this, he hopes to create a place that unites young, outdoor-minded campers with each other as well as the land in which they recreate.

Degenhard first came up with the idea for Campfire Ranch in May 2019 and is making quick progress in turning his vision into a reality. The Denver Business Journal outlined the general process involved in investing in opportunity zones and provided an update as to where Degenhard is in officially creating Campfire Ranch.

Currently, he is in the process of negotiating for 58 acres of camping land outside Buena Vista, in addition to pitching his idea to venture capitalists. If his negotiations are successful, he expects to launch Campfire Ranch by fall of 2020 and hopes to continue growing this business to at least 30 locations across the U.S.

Degenhard credits some of his outdoor-industry business success to Western’s new, cutting- edge Outdoor Industry MBA program:

“The Outdoor Industry MBA program has been a huge catalyst in starting my own business. I was previously employed by Red Bull North America, with a background in sports and events marketing, but when I considered leaving the business to start my own venture, I wasn’t confident I had the skills to support myself without the corporate safety net. It was the OI MBA program that has given me the confidence and network to step out on my own in May.”

While not in the classroom, Degenhard will continue to work to build the foundation of Campfire Ranch over the next few months. His endeavors, along with others created by graduate students in this program, will further establish the excellence of Western’s Outdoor Industry MBA program.

Story by Katie Lyons, Marketing Communications.

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