Alumni Spotlight: Stevie Wiegel, McCormick, ’17

Stevie is a biomedical engineer and rock climbing instructor. Her master’s degree training in biophotonics as well as her professional outdoor background were applied to design the FIRE&LIGHT Multi-Tool. Stevie is an alum of Northwestern University, and graduated from McCormick with her Master’s of Science in Biotechnology in 2017. She is also an alum of The Garage, and founder of Xolo Outdoor, currently based out of Chicago at mHUB. 

A common misconception about outdoor recreation is that people go outside as an escape from technology or as a reprieve back to simpler times. Even those who spend time outside themselves might believe that misconception. But if that were really true, then why do 80% of people who go camping use their smartphone, tablet, or laptop on camping trips? People who spend time outside embrace technology: In their phones, solar panels, bike computers, and in their $600 tech-wear jackets. If anything, they’re lead users of technology, not luddites.

Xolo Outdoor founder, Stevie Wiegel, testing a company prototype in the Redwoods.

Nature and Technology are not opposites. This is the secret Xolo Outdoor was built on. The company’s mission is to inspire the next generation of explorers by providing future-forward outdoor products, vision, and resources at the nexus of technology and nature.  Xolo Outdoor Founder, Stevie Wiegel, is an Alumni of The Garage who received her MS in Biotechnology from Northwestern in 2017.  Stevie, along with two co-founders, are building Xolo Outdoor’s brand and working to bring the company’s first two products to market in 2018.

Xolo Outdoor’s first product: The Photon-Multi-tool

Xolo Outdoor’s first patent pending product is The Photon Multi-tool. It might be called a multi-tool, but it’s nothing like your standard Leatherman. The Photon’s purpose is all about light manipulation, so you won’t find a pair of plyers in this tool. The Photon Multi-tool has four main functions: 1. Ultra-lightweight Lantern  2. Emergency Firestarter  3. Pocket/ Signal Mirror  4. Magnifying Glass. The tool compacts down to the size of iPhone and weights only 43 grams. It solves the problem of needing to bring a big, heavy lantern out camping while providing other useful functions for users.

Xolo Outdoor’s first two products are getting sent to test-users and influencers.

Xolo Outdoor completed pilot manufacturing of 40 units of The Photon Multi-tool at mHUB and are in the process of shipping them out. These 40 prototypes are being used to test the design, and to help build an online following. Every participant, including Instagram influences, a Nat Geo photographer, and a member of the Explorers Club have agreed to post about the product on their social media pages. This pilot run is the final step before releasing the product for E-commerce in this year.

Space Camp Cord (shown coiled here) can be strung around a campsite for functional or decorative lighting.

Xolo Outdoor’s second product in the pipeline is their Space Camp Cord. These futuristic string lights can be hung outside a tent to mark your campsite, hung inside a tent for ambient light, or used to decorate a campsite in place of traditional string lighting. When it’s not being used on camping trips, Xolo’s focus groups have expressed interest in using it to decorate their plants inside their home.  Space Camp Cord will also be available for sale on their website in 2018.

The Photon Multi-tool (Center) and Space Camp Cord (Background) pictured here.

Xolo Outdoor plans to expand beyond camp lighting and into other products like, tents, and apparel to become an outdoor lifestyle brand.  Eventually, they plan to make gear for the next era of exploration (Hint: It’s not on earth).  But that goal is a long way off for this seed-stage company.  Xolo Outdoor will be raising money in spring/ summer 2018 to make these big plans a reality. Check out the Xolo Zine on their website or follow them Instagram to stay updated.