Move Free founder Patrick Caron ’23, left,  and co-developer Taibatou Bintou Adamou Garba ’2...Move Free founder Patrick Caron ‘23, left, and co-developer Taibatou Bintou Adamou Garba ’22 will pitch the sustainable athletic wear business for a $10,000 prize on the televised Greenlight Maine Collegiate Business Pitch Competition.The brainchild of professional mountain ultra trail runner Patrick Caron ’23, Move Free is a lifestyle brand with a mission built upon the protection and preservation of the planet. Caron launched the business in 2018 and further honed the idea with the help of Taibatou Bintou Adamou Garba ’22, Mauro Jose Ramirez Azofeifa ’23, and Gloria Atondeh ’23 while enrolled in COA professor Jay Friedlander’s Sustainable Strategies course.

Caron and Adamou Garba pitched the business to the Greenlight Maine judges in the fall and moved quickly through the preliminary rounds. Now, they are set to compete in the sixth season of the collegiate edition, to be aired in March.

“Being able to share these goals and passions with the rest of the world and create those connections that are essential to the sustainable business is so rewarding,” Adamou Garba says.

Taibatou Bintou Adamou Garba ’22 and Patrick Caron '23 believe the connection between people ...Taibatou Bintou Adamou Garba ’22 and Patrick Caron '23 believe the connection between people and the outdoors is incredibly important, and through Move Free, they aim to foster this connection by empowering all people, regardless of their fitness level or outdoor experience.

For both Adamou Garba and Caron, the connection between people and the outdoors is incredibly important. During her time in high school back home in Niger, Adamou Garba initiated a sustainability movement raising awareness on plastic waste and getting youth to take alternative actions, which turned into an environmental club where youth learn about environmental degradation and protection.

Caron has been running on trails for much of his life, developing a passion for protecting the wilderness of New England.

“I have been running for years as a way to explore the natural world and found myself not only determined to share this passion for movement and nature with others but wanting to take steps towards protecting and preserving the outdoor spaces for generations to come,” he says. “By getting more people outdoors and spending time in these beautiful natural places, they’re going to become more invested in them, and in turn, want to protect them.”

As a trail runner and outdoor enthusiast, Patrick Caron ’23 developed Move Free to share his pa...As a trail runner and outdoor enthusiast, Patrick Caron ’23 developed Move Free to share his passion with others through a line of sustainable outdoor products.

Caron set out to develop a line of products for outdoor enthusiasts, working with local artists who were equally passionate about outdoor spaces. With Acadia National Park in COA’s backyard, he found inspiration in his surroundings for the work he was doing. He saw the potential in Move Free, and enrolled in Friedlander’s Sustainable Strategies course to dive deeper into the business.

Friedlander, the COA Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business, focused on teaching students how to maximize positive impact on society and environment by developing strategic and sustainable business practices.

“At the beginning I was a little reluctant, because I did not consider myself an outdoor athlete, ” Adamou Garba says. “But after talking with Patrick and joining a run I realized that spending time outdoors can be a fun and meaningful experience open to all levels of fitness.”

Caron feels strongly that the outdoors should be accessible to everyone.

“Move Free exists to empower people and meet them wherever they are at, whether it’s someone who is going on their first run or hike or someone who has been running and hiking for years, we aim to serve all these people,” he says.

The two paired up to apply the concepts of the class to pitching Move Free. One key element of sustainable business they focused on is the relationship of people, planet, and profit, and how to maximize the benefit of all three.

“The why should come before the what,” Caron says. “Our products are a vehicle to create change, spreading our message of joyful, lighthearted adventure, connecting and creating a community of changemakers who share our values.”

As part of Friedlander’s class, the students submitted their business proposals to Greenlight Maine, an initiative led by entrepreneurial boosters and corporate leaders that promotes and mentors the development of small and local businesses in Maine. Adamou Garba and Caron said they were pleasantly surprised at the amount of positive feedback they received.

After submitting their business proposal to Geenlight Maine as a part of COA professor Jay Friedl...After submitting their business proposal to Geenlight Maine as a part of COA professor Jay Friedlander's Sustainable Solutions class, two COA students have made it all the way to the sixth season of the Greenlight Maine Collegiate Business Pitch Competition!

“Move Free is my baby, and having it judged and critiqued in front of an audience was tough. But I had to remind myself that everyone was there to help Move Free continue to develop,” Caron says.

Adamou Garba said that she was nervous about the process, having never pitched a business before, but that her passion for the mission of their venture helped her gain confidence.

“You have to remind yourself that this is what you believe in,” she says. “It’s just sharing a piece of yourself with others.”

Seeing Adamou Garba and Caron’s hard work embraced by others, fellow students and Greenlight judges alike, was exciting and encouraging, Friedlander says.

“I love how their brand encourages a lifestyle of embracing the outdoors and physical activity in a joyous way,” he says.

However the pair do on the show, Friedlander says that they have already succeeded by getting this far and that whatever happens once Season Six of the Greenlight Maine Collegiate Business Pitch Competition gets underway, they will be able to learn and grow from it.

“The journey to start anything from an enterprise to a movement is undulating,” Friedlander says. “You need to embrace the experience, thoughtfully consider your critics, and be prepared to stumble and recover along the way.

Move Free’s featured episode on Greenlight Maine airs in March or April 2021.