Category Archives: Powderhook

More and More Finding Access through Powderhook

Hunters and anglers continue to have success using Powderhook to find access to quality hunting and fishing spots.

Keith and Kathy Stewart utilized Powderhook for a fly fishing trip in Arkansas. “Powderhook arranged for a great guide for my fishing trip on the White River in Arkansas”, said Mr. Stewart. “He was very informative, professional and had the great patience necessary for dealing with a pretty novice fly fisherman. I caught 15 or more trout on our day together and his fly suggestions worked well for me on following days when I put on the waders and fished near our cabin. I am sure I’ll be using Powderhook to facilitate my next outdoor adventure.”

Powderhook’s map contains millions of acres of public and private hunting and fishing properties across the US. Another user, Ilya Swanson of Rochester, Minn., used Powderhook’s public lands and waters map to find nearby public lakes to fish. Swanson was very pleased that Powderhook created such an effective and user-friendly service for outdoorsmen like himself. “I have been using Powderhook to my advantage for the past four months. My friends asked me where I learned about these lakes, and now most of my fishing buddies are also hooked on it!”

“I don’t have to be an expert in outdoor experiences to use Powderhook,” commented user Blake Lawrence, of Lincoln, Neb. “I found the perfect opportunity that fit my budget, and booked it”, referring to a one-day private land fly fishing access to Nebraska’s Snake River, a trophy trout destination. “Powderhook has the experts, and I feel like I can rely on them to help get me setup.”

Dr. Roger Fisher used Powderhook to find a special hunting location in south-central Nebraska. “Well I certainly had a great experience. Everything that I thought might happen, did happen many times over. It has been 30 years since I shot a gun, and on my trip I was able to shoot not one but two wild turkeys. I recommend using Powderhook to anyone looking for the experience of a lifetime”.

Technology Imperatives for the Future of Hunting, Fishing and Shooting

“A simpler, more open and transparent way of doing business across our industry is the only way we can ensure the future of our way of life.” – Eric Dinger, co-founder and CEO, Powderhook

In a little under two years of work on the access problem, Powderhook has gained several important insights. Included in this story are five things we’ve learned and a call to action for the hunting, fishing and shooting industry. Examples from other industries are provided as a means to rationalize each argument. It is our hope this post can serve as a springboard for new ideas and better solutions.

INTRODUCTION

Powderhook’s mission is Access for All. That means access for new hunters, anglers and shooters; for parents and their children; for neighbors who haven’t been out in the field for years; and for you. Powderhook works with the nation’s leading conservation organizations, retailers and manufacturers, bringing our industry together to solve some of its most important problems. We’re building a one-stop shop, like “Expedia for the Outdoors.”

It could be said that Powderhook is one of the nerdiest outdoor companies. Our team of 7 technical individuals employs a skill-set somewhat unique to the outdoor industry. We build software solutions for the challenges we believe are most integral to the future of our way of life. Our platform is used to create, market, find and acquire access.

When we first started Powderhook, we understood our mission to mean the average person needs a place to hunt, free or paid. Thus, we built one of the most complete data repositories for huntable and fishable lands information, both public and private, ever created. Our data come from upwards of 17 sources, and we have over 650,000 places to go. Very few organizations have ever built a lands database as far-reaching and comprehensive. This data can be viewed, free of charge, by visiting www.powderhook.com/map.

Over time, we have come to understand the access problem at a much deeper level. By speaking to hundreds of people on both the “have access” and “need access” sides of the equation, we have gained several important insights. In keeping with our values, we’ve decided to share these well-earned lessons with the industry.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED

Most days, people aren’t looking for places to hunt or fish. One day they might be looking for a tournament in which to fish; they may be interested in attending an NWTF banquet; or they might just want to find a range to sight in their rifle. The access problem is bigger and more complicated than simply finding someone a spot. For that reason we introduced group, event and trip management functionality.

To present our user an accurate picture of what they could do outdoors in their area, we started to think of our business as a social marketplace. We began to build a one-stop place to find groups, events, spots and trips for the hunter, shooter and angler.

In adopting this wider agenda, we have encountered several challenges we believe the industry must solve to propel itself forward. These problems are larger than what any company or single organization can change. They are as endemic and deeply rooted as their solutions are imperative. Challenging as they may be, they are also exacerbated by a generation of consumers, the future of our industry, who will, almost exclusively, purchase through their phone and have a low tolerance for inconvenience.

The key insights presented below represent, in our view, a cultural shift in thinking for our industry. For the future of our way of life, we must collectively adopt a simpler, more open and transparent way of doing business.

The Industry Must Create a Marketable Commodity Out of “Access”

Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to book a hotel room? You can book the same hotel room across dozens of websites. Knowing that, have you ever really asked yourself why it’s so hard to find a duck blind to sit in, a place to hang your deer stand, or the upcoming 3-gun competitions in your area? The fundamental underlying issue is our industry lacks a standard tradable good — an inventory, like a room-night for hotels.

“Access” means several things, and somehow nothing all at once. It could mean a lease; a trespass fee; a role on a shooting team; a seat in a blind or a spot in your friend’s truck. We believe the industry, in the interest of creating a marketable commodity, will come to define “access” as a seat for a period of time — effectively, our version of a room-night. This is a natural conclusion given we buy, sell and trade periodic access to all kinds of things, including movies, concerts, vacation rentals and cars. It is our belief that an industry-wide adoption of this “seat” or “inventory” creation approach is integral to the perpetuation of our way of life. In doing so, we can create the opportunity and incentive for private industry, public/private partnerships and individuals to get to work marketing, giving, trading, buying and selling our collective access assets, regardless of who owns or creates them.

Powderhook has created the acronym G.U.E.S.T. to help serve as a moniker for this line of thinking. No matter what you do in this access or R3 (recruitment, retention and reactivation) arena, you are in the business of helping people find and consume Groups, Users, Events, Spots and Trips. Because license buying is an imperative, we believe selling a license is a bi-product of selling your audience on one or several of the components of G.U.E.S.T. Examples of which include:

  • Groups
    • Hunting or fishing clubs
    • Volunteer groups or local chapters
  • Users
    • Mentors, volunteers, teachers
    • Hunting/fishing partners
  • Events
    • Fundraisers and R3 activities
    • Fishing tournaments and shooting competitions
  • Spots
    • Public/private land and water
    • Free/paid places to go
  • Trips
    • 4 seats in the truck
    • One day in a duck blind

Agencies and NGOs Should Think of Themselves as Wholesalers of G.U.E.S.T.

The key holders of inventory must push us forward by creating an economic incentive for others to help with access and R3 problems. Private industry needs to be able to make money by directly aiding the process of getting people outdoors. Cabela’s should be selling access at retail. I should be able to sign-up for fishing tournaments on the Bass Pro Shops website. GunBroker.com should be selling Ducks Unlimited banquet tickets. Expedia should be booking campgrounds. Airbnb should be adding fishing licenses onto their lakefront home rental transactions. MidwayUSA should be taking registrations for 3-gun competitions.

The travel industry serves as a great model for us to observe. Hoteliers, rental car companies and airlines all allow direct consumption via their individual websites. You can buy a United flight on United.com. In much the same way we’re advocating the outdoor industry evolve, those same companies allow hundreds of other websites to make money from booking their inventory. You also can buy a United flight on Travelocity.com. Travelocity makes money, United makes money and more people travel more often. That economic incentive has lead to billions of additional dollars spent in marketing, advertising and product development. In a time when our industry desperately needs to recruit new people, adding additional private sales channels is a must.

While we’ve only been in the industry for a couple years, it has become our belief that our agency and NGO friends face nearly impossible odds in changing the tide in our industry. The agencies we’ve gotten to know are running dozens of different lines of business, from marketing agency and publisher to range operator and event planner. Because of this construct and the built-in inefficiency, resources become strapped, and effectiveness and innovation are swapped for status quo in the interest of just plain getting the work done each day. We believe a simplification of the agency and NGO business model through the adoption of the “wholesale” mindset can have a drastic impact on the output of these organizations and the effectiveness of their role in the broader industry.

The Industry Needs a Common Repository of Geographic Information

Powderhook has invested several hundred thousand dollars in the creation of our map. No one should have to do it again. Our map, or one like ours with considerably more input from the industry, should exist as an open standard for hunting- and fishing-related geographic information. With an open standard, all public agencies, NGOs, private companies and individuals could access a common tool and update a related data asset. Currently geo information exists in hundreds of data silos. Several fish and wildlife agencies have invested heavily in their mapping infrastructure. Others have not. Each has done it in their own way, making for a significantly higher cost for an NGO, private company or individual who may be willing to invest in their own version of R3. When a park closes on a fish and wildlife website, it should also reflect as closed on Powderhook, Google Maps and any other place people might seek that information. When a new hunting land is added from a private access program, it should be visible across the entire industry. An open environment, welcoming of user contributions, such as www.openstreetmaps.com, is how we make it happen.

We Must Manage our Collective Reputation

To do so, we need to commit to a national hunter, shooter and angler registry. Each person in the registry should receive a unique identifier they can use to manage their reputation as they move throughout the industry. This common identifier would allow for simplification of the licensing and tag application process. It would enable people to register, sign-up, purchase and participate more efficiently. In addition, it would enable the R3 movement to measure the behaviors and outcomes of their programs. Strangely, this already exists under our noses. Facebook uses your common identity to allow you login to countless websites. In doing so, they’re able to track your behavior across your web behaviors in much the same manner our industry needs to do.

The idea of a national license or registration program is an old one. There may never be a day when a person can purchase a license in one state and legally hunt another state; however, a common identifier will enable technology similar to Foursquare’s “check-in” to make licensing across multiple states a simpler and more open process.

Your common identifier would know you are an active member of Ducks Unlimited, which may gain you access to DU programs or hunts not available to the general public. It would know your Hunter Safety Number, eliminating the frustration and pressure of materializing this form of identification for each new place a person hunts or fishes. Further, landowners cite wanting to know who is on their land and what they’re doing as the number one reason they deny access. A common identifier could aid sportsmen and women in that communication process.

We Need a Marketplace

Have you ever thought about what makes ebay so special? The magic in ebay is that there aren’t two ebays. If you’re looking to sell something used online, you go to ebay. Because of that, if you’re looking to buy something used online, you go to ebay. People sell on ebay because people buy on ebay, because people sell on ebay. This phenomenon is something referred to as the “network effect.” Simply defined, network effect refers to the notion that each additional buyer and seller added to a marketplace makes the marketplace better for each existing buyer and seller.

Our economy is in the early stages of a new type of revolution. Economists refer to this new way of doing business as the peer-to-peer or share economy movement. Using a marketplace business model, companies such as Lyft, StubHub, Uber, GunBroker, Airbnb, Homeaway, Etsy and many others are changing the way in which things are bought and sold. It can be said they’re systematically deconstructing fixed and mature industry one efficient, peer-to-peer transaction at a time. Last night, Airbnb was the second largest hotelier in the world, yet almost none of their sellers are even businesses. A marketplace, like those mentioned here, is part of the future of nearly all industries. We believe the adoption of a single marketplace is a key component of the future of the hunting and shooting industry.

According the U.S. Fish and Wildlife data from 2012, Americans spent $10.1 billion on access. Yet in spite of this immense demand, there is no single point of entry or simple process for consuming this “access.” Just to get started, our industry requires hours of research, earning of a certificate, wading through vast regulations to procure a license. With license in hand the process of securing a place to hunt or fish may be just as daunting. If we are to be competitive with other outlets for our customer’s time, this simply isn’t good enough.

Why don’t we have a marketplace already, if it’s such a good idea? Dozens have tried. Powderhook is working on it. But, the outdoor industry is very different than others. The level of fragmentation, the desire for hunters and anglers to preserve their spots, the lack of a fundamental commodity, the extremely high cost of seller acquisition, and the deep role of government, licensing and regulation will require the builder of a marketplace in the outdoor space to have immense staying power. Things that may move quickly in other industries simply cannot in the hunting, fishing and shooting space. But, rest assured, if our industry is to make it into the next generation of hunters, anglers and shooters, a marketplace will be a key component of how it all works. Our children won’t stand for the inefficiencies. They’ll just play soccer or video games instead.

CONCLUSION

Will our children hunt? Will they care about the second amendment? Will they value our beloved North American Model of Wildlife Conservation? Or, will the race of an urbanized lifestyle; the relative torture it takes to earn a hunter-ed certificate; the traveling soccer teams; the two income households; the need to make time; the hassle of finding a place to go; the pain it takes to figure out permits; the anti-hunting noise — will the pressure finally erode our base and crack our foundation?

Fixing these problems for the next generation is impossible for you to do, no matter who you are. Powderhook is no exception. From a technical standpoint, Powderhook can build some of the solutions our industry needs. As one of the first for-profit companies to burrow into the access problem, our brand is positioned well to get it done; however, a nice brand and the technical ability to do something will get our solutions only so far. As industry leaders, we must get busy empowering individuals and private industry to make the changes we need by ensuring our every investment makes our collective offerings simpler, more open and transparent.

About the author:

Eric Dinger is the co-founder and CEO of Powderhook.com, a website built to help people find access to hunting and fishing spots, trips, groups and events.  He can be reached at eric@powderhook.com.

What’s new on Powderhook?

Did you know you can now invite someone to an event on Powderhook without requiring them to buy a ticket? Say you’re an event administrator and you’d like event volunteers to be able to join your event card on Powderhook, but they’re not required to buy a ticket since they’re volunteers.

Screenshot from 2015-03-09 11:14:20

Now, when you invite someone to your event, you’ll see a check box under their name that reads “This person requires a ticket to join.” By default, it’s checked. That means the invitee will be required to select an available ticket and purchase it before joining the Powderhook event card. If you decide to not to check the box, the invitee will be allowed to (optionally) skip selecting tickets and be placed directly in the event!

Screenshot from 2015-03-09 11:13:08

If you invite someone with this feature, direct them to look for the blue text under the “Get Tickets” button that reads “Or, join within a ticket by clicking here.” They’ll see this text on the ticket selection page on Powderhook. When they click on the blue text, they’ll be placed directly in the event card. Of course, they can always return to the ticketing page and get tickets later!

Please note, the invitee must be signed in to Powderhook to see the option of skipping ticket selection. Let us know what you think!

What’s new on Powderhook?

We’ve been busy over the last few weeks here at Powderhook. We’re excited to announce several new updates on our website that make it even easier to find and create access to the outdoors. Here’s a rundown:

1. Invite and assign tickets to other people.

Screenshot from 2015-02-25 11:43:43

You can already search for thousands of events on Powderhook, and get tickets with just a few clicks. Now, when you get tickets to an event you can:

  • Claim the ticket for yourself
  • Invite someone to claim the ticket by email
  • Enter the information for someone else, and give them the ticket

Continue reading What’s new on Powderhook?

6 great ways to use Powderhook

Mentored hunts are extremely important to the future of hunting. A mentored hunt simply means someone with experience is teaching someone who doesn’t have as much experience. If you’re passionate about showing new people the ropes, you could create a group for your area that helps to match people. For example, you could create a group called “Lincoln Area Hunting Mentors.” Powderhook will help send new people to your group and from there you can handle all the communication and coordination.

Continue reading 6 great ways to use Powderhook

Reactivating seniors, the forgotten millions

I’ve been an active member of the outdoor industry for about a year and a half. While I’ve hunted and fished my whole life, it wasn’t until I started Powderhook that I began to learn how the industry really worked. In my short time in the industry I’ve come to understand and deeply care about things like the North American Model of Conservation, R3 (Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation), license sales, and access. As I’ve traveled the country learning, meeting new people and discussing the future of the industry we love, I have been involved in dozens of conversations about the need to get people to actually go hunting and fishing. Most of those conversations have centered on the imperative for our industry to activate new people, especially young people.

Continue reading Reactivating seniors, the forgotten millions

For hunters, it’s time to play offense

The anti-hunting movement has overwhelmed the consciousness of the hunting industry. Hunters, hunting land, firearms, and the sporting way of life are under attack politically and socially. Millions of hunt-able acres are shut down in Oregon to protect the spotted owl. Lead ammunition is banned in California. Increasingly legislators, not biologists, are making wildlife management decisions. Professional huntress Melissa Bachman receives threatening messages to this day, over a year removed from the day she posted her now-famous lion photo. A deceptive foe, the Humane Society of the United States, seems to gain momentum even in the face of science, ethics and reason. The negativity and pressure has taken its toll, leaving industry leaders frustrated and searching for answers. A way of life once mandatory to sustain life is now fighting for its own life.

1

According to John Frampton, industry veteran and leader of the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, “we’ve got to do something drastic or hunting as we know it won’t exist for future generations.”

Continue reading For hunters, it’s time to play offense

Marriage and Startup: Five Things to Get Right

Balancing the demands of a marriage, family and startup can be tough. My wife, Stephanie, has been an integral part of any success we’ve had at Powderhook. She doesn’t have a title, tasks or projects, yet her role is essential. We’ve been in business a little over a year, and our marriage is stronger than ever. This is our second go-around as a startup couple (we sold our first business in 2012), so I thought I’d share some of our experience. Here are five things I believe we’ve gotten right:

1) Starting a business is a family decision. Stephanie was part of deciding to start a business in the first place; she had a lot to say about what type of business, how much we would invest, and how long I could go without a paycheck.

2) We set boundaries. Dinner is at 6:45. I’m there. Once the kids hit the hay I jump back on and get to work. It’s important to us that we get a few minutes to talk every day, so I don’t bring the computer to bed. Both are seemingly little things, but these boundaries help us prioritize in the midst of an otherwise chaotic time.

3) Stephanie knows our team, problem, product, customers, and partners. She’s come with me to trade shows and she’s stayed up late with me testing our product. If starting a business is a family decision, growing one is a family commitment.

4) Grace. Unending grace. Entrepreneurship can be an exhausting, stressful and a downright frustrating experience. Stephanie lets me vent; she senses when I need time to come down from a tough day, and she picks up all my slack around the house. On top of that, she is our family’s breadwinner right now. To do that with a smile takes strength and grace.

5) We make time to be alone. The love language of the spouse of almost every entrepreneur is “time.” Ask a successful businessperson you know about their marriage. Most will tell you they are more proud of their marriage than their business. There is literally nothing that happens at your business that is so important that you can’t focus a few hours a week on your spouse. Plan it, send calendar invites, ritualize it, whatever. Do it.

Eric Dinger is the co-founder and CEO of Powderhook, a startup that helps people hunt and fish more often.

OUTDOOR PLEDGE UNITES OUTDOORSMEN

Powderhook, a free website that connects people with places to hunt and fish, announced today an initiative to promote a common code of ethics to outdoorsmen.

The Outdoor Pledge puts into simple terms the wisdom of generations of sportsmen, mindful of the reality that for many people time spent outdoors with their teachers is scarce. Through this initiative, Powderhook seeks to unite the individuals and groups that care about the true meaning of what hunting and fishing is all about: being a steward of the land, promoting goodwill through strong ethics, honoring the beauty and fragility of nature, and teaching the next generation to do the same.

Powderhook hopes to identify opportunities to work with people and organizations on a technology-backed approach to growing ethical outdoorsmen and women. “Our hope is that we can help reinvigorate the national conversation about doing things right and for the right reasons,” said Eric Dinger, founder and CEO of Powderhook. “Hunting and fishing shows have done a great job of creating interest in the outdoors, but most people will never shoot a buck or catch a trout as big as they see on television. It’s important we share with people the true meaning and purpose of time spent outdoors.”

The “Outdoor Pledge” harkens the work of one of the greatest American Conservationists, Teddy Roosevelt. The 26th President spoke often of the need to protect our natural resources – the bountiful land, water, and wildlife for which strong stewardship is the only answer to sustainability. “People have a very strong connection to the places and animals they hunt and fish, but today these same resources face new challenges. It’s important to bring fresh eyes and new ideas to the fight,” said Dinger. Through partnering with leading outdoor conservation and manufacturing organizations, Powderhook plans to do just that.

Although this initiative is in its infancy, the response from the outdoor community has been quite positive. Any individual, brand, business or organization can take the pledge by visiting OutdoorPledge.org.

For more information on Powderhook, please visit Powderhook.com/about or contact us at info@powderhook.com or 855-4SPRTSMN.