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'Outside the Grid' wins N.D. Women's Startup contest

Outside the Grid, a lifestyle and clothing website that promotes experiences in adventurous places, won first place Sunday night at the conclusion of the North Dakota Women's Startup Weekend here at the Dakota Medical Foundation complex.

Kari Peterson, president of Sky Blue Technology, right, talks to from left, Lydia Gilbertson, Alayna Holkesvig, and Rukia Aden about their Outside the Grid project at the Women’s Start-Up Weekend event on Sunday, April 19, 2015 in Fargo, N.D. The group won first place in the event. Carrie Snyder / The Forum
Kari Peterson, president of Sky Blue Technology, right, talks to from left, Lydia Gilbertson, Alayna Holkesvig, and Rukia Aden about their Outside the Grid project at the Women’s Start-Up Weekend event on Sunday, April 19, 2015 in Fargo, N.D. The group won first place in the event. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

FARGO-Three young Fargo women are working to build a community of "Gridders" one adventure at a time.

Outside the Grid, a lifestyle and clothing website that promotes experiences in adventurous places, won first place Sunday night at the conclusion of the North Dakota Women's Startup Weekend here at the Dakota Medical Foundation complex.

Fargo's Alayna Holkesvig, 22, envisioned Outside the Grid and its users, called "Gridders," after she traveled to a concert in Minneapolis and couldn't remember the exact location where she camped. She knew it was beautiful and not widely known. And she knew that the nationwide community of festival-goers, adventurers and nature-lovers would appreciate it.

"So I thought, 'How cool would it be if you could pinpoint a spot and then share it with friends?' " she says.

Holkesvig and her Startup Weekend teammates, 19-year-old Rukia Aden and 26-year-old Lydia Gilbertson, say that young people are more inclined to spend money on experiences rather than things so Outside the Grid's goal is to celebrate and enhance those experiences. They want to do that with an app that would track locations that are "off the grid" or not on traditional maps.

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But apps are expensive, typically costing $15,000 or more to develop, Holkesvig says, so

the women are selling T-shirts to establish their brand and raise money for the app.

"We love adventure and travel, it's something we'd all use," Aden says.

Besides selling merchandise, they invite travelers to share stories on their website, www.outsidethegrid.co .

Seven groups presented ideas Sunday night at the culmination of the weekend. Community Cafe won the People's Choice Award for its pitch to serve healthy, local food in an accessible environment.

The cafe would be built on the concept that anyone can eat and enjoy community no matter their economical means, Leola Daul, of Fargo, says.

People who can afford to pay for the $8 to $10 meals can help their neighbors by paying for additional meals. The meal contributions are then written on a sticky note and someone in need can pull the sticky note off a bulletin board and use it for a meal.

Besides providing nourishment, Community Cafe would foster connection because many socially, economically and physically challenged people don't have a common place to meet and eat, Community Cafe's Constance Pearson says.

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"They don't have a place for good conversation," she says. "We wanted to take our mutual ideas and put it together as a cafe. Food is common ground."

The group is eyeing a location on Moorhead's Eighth Street for the cafe.

As winners of Women's Startup Weekend, Outside the Grid was gifted a legal package, access to Fargo's CoCo, a shared workspace for budding entrepreneurs and small businesses, and books to guide their new venture.

To learn more about Women's Startup Weekend, visit www.up.co/communities/usa/fargo .

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