This is the fifth of a five part series from Powderhook.
Our Outdoor Future: Five Insights for the Future of Hunting, Fishing and Shooting Sports
“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 learned a lot. Based on what we’ve learned, we’ve created five concepts we believe to be imperative for the future of our way of life. These insights represent, in our view, a cultural shift in thinking for our industry. Examples from other industries are provided as a means to rationalize each argument. It is our hope this series can serve as a springboard for new ideas and better solutions.
INSIGHT FIVE: WE NEED A MARKETPLACE
When you’re looking for a ticket to a baseball game where do you go?
I go to Stubhub.com.
When you’re looking for a ride home from the airport where do you go?
I use Uber or Lyft.
When you want to list your vacation property for rent where do you go?
I go to VRBO.com.
How about when you want to sell your old golf clubs?
I’d use Craigslist.com or ebay.com.
How about if you wanted to buy a new rifle for your daughter?
I’d go to Gunbroker.com.
What do each of these sites have in common? They’re marketplaces that exist to simplify the process of a buyer finding what they’re looking for, and they make it easy for a seller to handle the whole process without the help of an intermediary. They directly connect a person who has something to sell or borrow with a person who wishes to buy or access it. None of the websites listed above sell or buy anything themselves. They exist to make the process simple for you and me to do the buying and selling.
Have you ever thought about what makes GunBroker.com so special? The magic in GunBroker is that there aren’t many GunBrokers. If you’re looking to sell a gun online, you go to GunBroker. Because of that, if you’re looking to buy a gun online, you go to GunBroker. People sell on GunBroker because people buy on GunBroker, because people sell on GunBroker. 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. In one way, it can be said marketplaces are systematically deconstructing fixed, mature industries 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. Thought of in another way, marketplaces are creating vigor for otherwise inefficient, fragmented industries. Think back 5 years. Do you remember how difficult it was to find a cab in smaller cities? Do you remember how long it would take you to find a cabin on a lake for your family to stay at? 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.
What if you could find all the hunter ed courses, all the 3-gun competitions, all the fishing tournaments, all the places to hunt, fish and shoot, everything, in one place?
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 and 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.
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