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Gear Wednesday: Inside “GoWild” Preeminent Outdoor Community App with Brad Luttrell
We’re heading to Southeastern Kentucky and we’re going to head to the home of GoWild. What’s GoWild? Brad Luttrell is going to tell us about it. Brad, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Bruce. I’m glad we were able to make this happen.
Let’s talk about GoWild, the backstory and why an advertising executive had to get in the outdoor industry, which is a tough industry as we both know.
It’s funny because we ended up starting a podcast because we got into this thing with no connections and people saw us doing it and they said, “How did you do this?” We kept having inquiries about not necessarily our brand, not that we didn’t have inquiries but we were getting inquiries in the volume of people saying, “I want to start a company in the outdoors. How did you do it?” That’s where our podcast took off and we do a little bit of a different show from there, which is how to navigate relationships and to interview people who have built their career in the outdoors. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. That’s what I spoke at POMA about how to build relationships within the industry and how to develop those and help them mature.
Back to your question of how do you go from advertising to GoWild? I was very entrepreneurial. If I can take this story back about several years before I even got into GoWild, I look at where I was in my career, I was a journalist and I was doing wedding photos. I was working for newspapers, I was shooting for magazines at local colleges, whatever I could do to make money. That was 2009 and 2010 and it was apparent that it was going to be a very hard way for me to make a living. I realized I wanted to get into something that was less work for hire. As a freelancer, it’s either feast or famine a lot of times. After a few cold seasons here in Louisville, Kentucky trying to get a paycheck, I decided to get into advertising.
I applied to 40 jobs. I didn’t hear back from much of anybody but then somebody gave me a shot finally and I got into social media and that turned into a PR job. Writing press releases and working with clients and that eventually would go on to meeting two of my cofounders at that first agency. I ended up getting fired with him over another company that we were trying to start and that’s a much longer story. The highlight of that is we’ve always been entrepreneurial-minded and the company found out about it and they didn’t take too kindly to people having that ambition. They wanted us to focus on their agency. At the time, we both went on to other companies. We didn’t even work together for a while.
A few years later, we tried to get a company going again and we weren’t passionate about it. That’s so critical when you start anything is you have to have passion. You have to be excited about what you’re doing or otherwise those late-night emails and those late-night researches or up at 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM, which I’m prone to doing. When I was working at the agency, it was my life waking up early and going to bed late so I could work on this. If you aren’t passionate about it, you’re going to have a hard time pushing yourself to do that. We tried at that company one more time. It’s a restaurant data analytics company. That went away and I had this entrepreneurial bug. I wanted to do something and I kept researching and researching.
While I was trying to figure out the career side, I was also trying to learn to be a better hunter. I had been hunting with a guy and I was starting to learn from him and then for a couple of reasons, we stopped hunting together and I had to start doing this on my own. I started to realize, “There is a lot to learn here.” I wasn’t a good hunter. I just happened to be hunting with one, someone that knew a lot more than me and it was helping me with a lot of it as I started trying to learn about whitetail hunting. I had grown up squirrel hunting and fishing mostly and playing outside as a kid, I’m not hunting a ton but as I started trying to learn this, I’m like, “This is crazy.”
It’s 2016 at the time, every time I start googling and I’m finding information about mule deer hunting. That’s not helpful to me at all or I’m finding out how people hunt whitetail in Nebraska. That’s useless to me. In Kentucky, it’s a whole different landscape, scenario and time of year and different regulations. I’m like, “How is this 2016? We’re living in the Facebook era and Instagram era, even Snapchat and no one’s created a way for people to connect with each other about the outdoors.” I started doing research on it. I had built and branded hundreds of websites and branding projects for companies and I’m looking at all these digital products and the hunting industry and I’m like, “I can do better than that.”
That thought started the whole thing. My wife works nights and I put my boy to bed one night and I started googling. It went from googling hunting apps to looking at everything that’s out there. It went to how to raise money for a company. I had no idea how to do this stuff and it all snowballed. A month later, I’m meeting with a guy at Chipotle and he comes on as my cofounder and we picked up two more by the end of the year. We built a product in seven months and got it on the market in nine. It’s been this crazy whirlwind of a ride like drinking from a fire hose of how far it’s come from then. What it comes down to is I had the entrepreneurial spirit and I had a problem for myself that I saw was worth solving for and I went after it.
You mentioned POMA, it’s Professional Outdoor Media Association. Brad and I are members and he did speak about relationships. Why don’t you speak a little bit about that? I want to help people understand what it takes to embrace a career in the outdoors because it’s hard. I’ve been at it for years and I love what I do and I’ve got a membership Deer Hunting Institute coming online but it’s not for the faint of heart. You mentioned going to bed late and getting up early and whatnot. I have a VA now but before I had the Virtual Assistant, I had to do everything myself and it was hard. Let’s speak about what you spoke to the Professional Outdoor Media Association.
I pulled up my slides so I can remember, I’m jogging my memory at the end. Essentially, the first half of my presentation was everything I told you about. What we’ve done as a product, how this got started and I had no connections. What I did have was a good understanding of how to build them. If advertising taught me anything, it was how to listen to people’s problems and find what problem I needed to solve for first. If you’re trying to build any relationship, you have to approach it from what can I do for them first and we’ve approached everything we’ve done with that manner. We had a great product. You have a social element to GoWild and we didn’t mention what GoWild is.
I know we said app but there are a lot of different versions of hunting apps. We are not a mapping app. Everybody knows onX, we are not that. If I can frame it up for your audience who are probably familiar with that product. onX is going to help you find and create your story with its mapping, GoWild is going to help you share that story. We have a social component that helps you share and learn. You can ask questions with other members of the community. You can share your story and get feedback and that creates a lot of social conversation within the platform. We’ve been good at that from day one. It’s not friends or followers first, we’re content first. You don’t have to have a following to post in the app and to get a ton of feedback on it.
A young man posted the first squirrel that he had gotten. He was like, “I have no idea what to do with these things.” In 24 hours, he got twenty comments on something as niche as squirrel hunting. In fact, small game is in decline so there are not a lot of people that understand that very well but he came to our platform. He had hardly any followers because he’s still new. He started the account and yet he was able to get help. That’s what we do well. We’ve also rolled out activity tracking so we can track your data and maybe we’ll come back around and talk a little bit about that more. We’ve got podcast and recipe functionality. We’re trying to help you tell your story throughout the year and also get better throughout the year. We built this platform and we started connecting with big brands. We got in touch with Garmin and that was all from a cold email that we pushed on. Part of my message on POMA was showing how much work it takes to get to some of these relationships. It was hundreds of emails to get that Garmin deal done in a span of nine months from the time it started to when we wrapped it up.
We’ve been in the room with some other big companies that we haven’t announced yet but these events or these milestones that we’ve gotten to, they’ve taken countless three dozen emails over 90 days, that’s one example that I had. Three dozen emails and texts and constantly trying to make it happen with a contact to be able to get one meeting. Sometimes you might think, “You should have given up and moved onto the next one,” but you have to look at the opportunity and what’s in front of you and if it’s a certain mom and pop company, maybe that is right. Maybe you take a hint but at a certain size company, when you’re talking to these Fortune 500 or 100 or 50, that’s what you signed up for when you want to work with somebody like that.
It takes a lot of work to get to the table and you’re almost proving yourself and that you got to the table. A lot of the proof is in the pudding that you showed up. You were consistent and you did what you said you would do. This leads to the part of my presentation that I have. Talking about anybody that wants to get into this industry or any industry, when you’re networking don’t take things personally. People are not going to respond. They’re not going to do what they said they would do. They’re going to forget because their job is not your job. Your job is to figure out how you can help them. Their job is to make their boss think that they’re the greatest employee they have. They’re trying to impress their boss. You have to prove how you’re going to help them do that.Bringing the whole outdoor community together to share their stories across social media. Click To Tweet
A lot of people too rush to ask. You have to take your time getting to know people and find out what their pain points are. Find out how what you already do well and how it can help that person with something they need to do well. See where you overline and don’t make this about you. If you want to network better and build better relationships, focus on adding value to that person’s life or career and you’re going to build a relationship that whether they’re with that company or the next company they go to, you’re going to get a lot back out of that because you cared about them as a person. Relationships are about trust, Bruce. When I think about all the success we’ve seen from companies, it comes down to you’d never want to break their confidence.
You want to deliver what you said you would do and winning the business isn’t one action. It’s a series of micro decisions. If I say I was going to follow up next Monday morning, I’m going to follow up at 9:05 and hit you exactly when I said I would. Through all of this effort, this comes back to one of my favorite quotes. Some people don’t agree with this but the quote is, “I sure do get lucky when I work hard.” Serendipity happens but the takeaway for me is that more than anything you might get an introduction by coincidence. You might run into somebody in an elevator. You’re trying to sell fishing lures and you accidentally run into Johnny Morris on an elevator. You didn’t know he’s going to be there.
That’s luck but what happens after that? That alone is not going to get your fishing lures put into Bass Pro. What you do with the luck is going to matter the most. A lot of times maybe all the decisions you made prior to that got you to a conference where Johnny Morris was there. People overlook all the hard work that they put in before that. Our motto here is to keep that in mind. There are a bunch of variations of this and it’s been said a hundred different ways. I always jokingly quote The Notorious B.I.G., the rapper and say, “Treat every day like you’re the intern.”
We think of it that way here. We’re never going to get full of ourselves. We’re always looking at the individual members that we talk to every day and think about how we can help them and then also our client partners, whether that’s the Garmin’s or the First Lite’s of the world or all the way down to the mom and pop brands that we’ve worked with. We’re going to bust our humps to make sure that they’re getting something back out of it. That, in a nutshell, was my maybe twelve-minute presentation. The gist of it was focused on your relationships and focus on the people first. I see this all the time with GoWild. We get hit up with people that see that we’re a tech company in the outdoors and they think we have all this money from startup money and they hit us up for, “Will you sponsor my YouTube channel?” There’s no buy me a drink first or anything. It’s coming in hot and heavy and that’s not how this works. People that show up like that, you’re lucky to get an email. I respond to pretty much everything I get but with any brand, you’re lucky if they even respond to you. It’s very distasteful and it takes time to build a relationship.
Readers, I hope you are getting this. It takes time and the other thing is there are two things that come across strong. He’s extremely passionate about what he’s doing and he has the confidence that he can sit down with anybody and tell his story. It’s his story. He knows his story and there isn’t any “You know or I think.” It’s, “Here’s what I do and here’s what I can deliver. I want to understand your pain so help me understand your pain.” The only way you can do that is to listen.
I’m definitely a talker but sometimes in a meeting, you’ve got to shut up and ask them, “What are you trying to solve? What is your boss measuring you by?” That’s a great way to figure out how you can help people and maybe you can’t. Sometimes companies or influencers or writers, whatever it is, you try to force something and maybe the timing’s not right and maybe it’s, “I’m going to follow up with you in six months and see how things are going.” A lot of times you’re going to be building this network over time and for the next thing or it might be your next company. You don’t know where these relationships are going to go but I do think slowing down and taking a little bit of time to figure out that person’s need and then how you can deliver to it, that’s one of the most critical things.
Can you share and bring us into your app?
I don’t have it on my computer. I’m not the developer.
I’ll share in mine and then we’re going to go to TimeToGoWild.com.
Our platform is primarily through the app. We don’t have a web face but that will take you to our site and you can see a little bit of our branding and material. This is where you’re going to come to download the app. It’s got all of our links on what you can do with the platform. We’re hitting you with that Garmin integration that we developed for. You can go in and read about that. If you scroll down, it’s going to outline a little bit of the functionality of the platform. The Follow Content, Track Activities and Tell Your Story, each one of those has a little blue link in it that you can get into and learn a little bit more about how we do that.
Following content, for example, this is much different than the way you build an Instagram following. You have to have a following. You’re typically not going to get a whole lot of interaction with other people that don’t follow you until you get to be a little bit bigger. These influencers can get enough for each to get it into that Explore page but when you first set up your Instagram account, it’s all about if somebody is following you and will see the content. In fact, Instagram’s own data says that 70% of its content goes unseen. It’s a very difficult place to build a following. Our platform focuses on the content, which is what you see. When you tap that little compass that’s in the actual phone, you’ll see at the bottom there’s a compass and all of those that you see, whether it’s bass fishing, noodling, fly fishing, big game hunting or whatever it is, there are 50 different things you can follow along with. Those are all content forums.
When you post, it will ask you which of those you want to post to. If I posted a small game, it’s going to hit people that are also interested in small games. I don’t need to have a following. I can have three followers on GoWild and still hit the tens of thousands of people that are in the platform. It’s quite a bit different from what people are used to because of that. It’s more like a Reddit. You can go into Reddit and if you’re into gaming, hunting or real estate, it doesn’t matter. There’s a place where you can find other people that are like-minded. GoWild functions much more like that.
In the middle, you have the activity tracking and that portion is talking about our Garmin integration but it’s also talking about we’re going to help you track. This is going to help outline all of the different activities you can do within the platform. We’ve got to get this page updated because we’ve since launched fishing tracking. What that’s going to do is you pull up your GoWild app on the phone and you’re going to hit the plus sign and then up in the top right, there’s an activity tracking and that’s going to pull up a whole host of activities. Saltwater fishing, noodling, fly fishing and if you click any of those, what we’re going to do is we’re going to track your elevation, track any photos you take, we’re going to overlay those on an anonymized map. If you’re paddling while you’re fishing a river, we’re going to track how many miles you went but we’re not going to share your location because hunters and anglers are pretty particular about that. They don’t want to share their location per se.
It’s going to track all that for you. It pulls it into a nice tight story that you have there and you can see, “I thought I went three miles but it was four and a half,” or “Here are the photos collected from this spot where I was tearing it up and there are five or six photos of the bass I was catching right there under that trestle,” or whatever it is. It pulls together in a nice narrative that you can dynamically scroll through and interact with, which is a lot different than posting in a couple of pictures when you come back. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I use some of these other platforms too but this is a different way of thinking. If people are familiar with Runkeeper or a Strava or MapMyFitness, what those are doing for running, we’re doing for hunting and fishing. We’re tracking the data. You’re technically leaving data on the table every time you go out and don’t track with a platform like ours. We bring you activity tracking in a way that’s relevant to you. You can do archery tracking on the phone too.
Our Garmin integration, if you have the watch, it will ask you what your yardage is. It will detect when you fire a shot and it can tell from the motion in the string vibration and then we know that when your hand drops, you’ve completed the shot. It goes to this motion, counts the shots and then when you get up to your target, it will ask you how you did. It’s going to ask you for your groups. You shot let’s say three inches. It will ask you to take a photo. We walk you through this loop, which is the same thing you’re already doing when you’re shooting anyways. You’re ranging, you’re shooting and you’re assessing your shot. The app follows the same process and when you end that and if you ended on the watch, we’re going to kick it over to the phone and let you load it or if you did the whole thing through your phone, it’s going to track all that. You can go back and see your performance as you went. What’s interesting about this, I can see target panic setting in because we tracked when the actual shot happened and I know what your heart rate was. I can see that your heart rate’s dropping 30 beats per minute in between shots but then right before you take a shot, you’re peaking out at 110, you’ve got to work on your nerves, or you need to work out more and control your breathing. You can start to use all this stuff to get more data from your activity that you’re already doing.
It’s data that’s currently left on the table. Nobody’s capturing it because I said I was a guy that was passionate about this stuff. I’m a tech guy by nature but here’s the thing, Silicon Valley where most of the technology is developed, they don’t typically get our audience. That’s why a lot of this content gets banned from Facebook when it’s reviewed by a person because this is an audience that doesn’t understand hunting and there’s by and large, this is a stereotype. I’m sure there are some people that hunt in the Bay area but by far pretty safe to say, this is self-admitted from Facebook and Twitter, they don’t have a whole lot of diversity when it comes to our audience.Find out how what you already do well can help a person with something they need to do well. Click To Tweet
There’s not a lot of entrepreneurial spirit coming out in the outdoor space out of that area. We’re building something that not a lot of people are focusing on. We’re trying to give people data that is being left on the table. Archery app is a great example of being able to integrate and do that. You can track that. You won’t be able to track the heart rate without the wearable device but you can track your shots. It will track your elevation, which is pretty interesting data if you’re doing a total archery challenge or something but you can track 40 different activities within the platform.
For the people that are doing challenges, I think of Corey Jacobsen with Elk101 to run a challenge and my own Deer Hunting Institute and I want to have a challenge for all the members for a YETI cooler, pick your poison or anything. How much does your app cost?
It’s totally free.
It’s supported by Garmin and other companies.
We’re a startup. I don’t know how much we’re going to get in the weeds on the business side. I don’t know how much people care. It’s not that I haven’t. The Restless Native goes way into the weeds on this stuff but essentially, we’re in startup mode. Raising money through investors and something that they believe in, this is something that they see as an opportunity to build a model very much like what’s being done in cycling and running and doing it for the outdoors. We do have advertising partners and that’s where our revenue is coming. It’s coming from the advertising. If I’m on Facebook, there’s a good chance I’m going to be re-targeted to from websites that I visited or my wife. The way that works is as much as they know about you, you can start to get a lot of irrelevant advertisements kicked back to you.
It’s gotten to the point to where my wife is so paranoid. She won’t shop for me online before Christmas because she knows I could see advertisements about the fact that she searched for a new wallet or whatever it is. They’re always watching what you’re doing and as much as these places know about you, they don’t understand hunters very well. Facebook, for example, might know that you’re a hunter but the difference between a duck hunter, a deer hunter, an elk hunter and an upland hunter, they don’t at all use the same equipment. Even down to the boots and socks, it’s all different. GoWild, as we roll out advertising, it’s better for you as a consumer because we’re going to put the gear in front of you that you might want to buy versus my wife shop for shoes or a bathing suit and that’s all I see on my Instagram account.
There was a period where I was getting all this weird maternity clothing on my Instagram account because somewhere along the lines, they thought based off of something and my machine overlap that my wife search habits were mine. Bruce, if you like to whitetail hunt and upland hunt, we know how often you’re going, how hardcore of a hunter you are and we can put products in front of you that are relevant. A great example of how we are doing this, our client Obsession Bows and Ramcat Broadheads are very archery targeted. I can help people or help our advertisers reach people at the peak of when they are most likely to realize that they need a new product. This is good for users because when are you most likely to realize you need a new bow? Probably right after you shoot. We know when you end your session and we can give you the opportunity to upgrade your bow for 15%, which is something that happens within our app.
If you end one of those archery sessions, you can earn 15% off of an Obsession Bow and these are high-end bows. That’s $150 you might save off of a bow because you used our platform. That’s the business model. It’s helping these brands understand and get to their customers better and more efficiently. We’ve done surveys on the advertising that we’ve done, trying to get how people feel about it and they like it. It’s almost weird at this point because we’re all trained to hate advertising and this is coming from the advertising guy. People are installing ad blockers and everything because it’s gotten so intrusive but we do studies and people are like, “No, it’s cool. I like learning about products if they’re hyper-targeted to me.” We’re doing things quite a bit differently and that it’s your behavior. It’s not some footprint that you’ve left throughout the internet. We know the things you like to do as Bruce and we put things that are relevant in front of you as Bruce or for Bruce.
I know on Instagram I get way too many ads and I hit not relevant or it’s flat out spam. I let them know that.
What’s funny is the more you hit not relevant, it’s like it could fix it or they could not understand you at all. They’re going to throw everything at you. It’s like spaghetti against the wall.
The third part is telling your story. You touched about that but let’s go deep dive into that.
This is the social component of it. I love this quote and I always bring this guy up but he is the quintessential example of GoWild. He had a quote in a trophy that he’s been chasing this buck all year long, a beautiful Michigan whitetail. He had it on camera, put in tons of hours and he had this trophy photo. As you know, trophy photos are a little contested these days but he had a great comment about this photo that I love. He said, “This photo represents 1/365th of my season. My GoWild profile tells the rest.” What he’s saying is, “I’ve tracked this all year on my profile. I’m sharing the scouting and all the pain points.” Michael goes out and scouts sometimes and he’ll be pissed. He’ll be mad about something that somebody scared off a deer with a card or I don’t know. I’m making stuff up and trying to think of some things I’ve seen but he has instances when it doesn’t go well and he is great about highlighting that and showing the pain that goes into this.
There’s something to be gained from that as an industry. We’ve trained into chasing that trophy photo, but holistically there’s so much more to it than that. The Tell Your Story part of this is everything that goes into your moment, whether that’s as an angler and we were talking about fishing in Alaska. You get to go up and you chase king salmon and you limit out every day. That is the best and that’s the peak of your game that you could have done for that pursuit. There’s a lot of other stuff that you probably did to go up and be able to do that. I’m sure there’s a chance you hired a guide but a lot of people are putting in the training. They’re learning the species and they’re listening to podcasts.
We have that integration as well. You can load a podcast like this one and go in. When you go to post, scroll down and tap a little clock and you can search for an outdoor podcast and then find any show that’s on iTunes and you can log that. What’s interesting about that is I can say, “I listened to Bruce’s show and here’s what I took away from it.” We start to have dialogue around the content that doesn’t exist elsewhere. Unless you go to that person’s Instagram or GoWild profile and you can interact with them if they posted about it but that still leaves the content creator in control. GoWild gives control of that aspect to the listeners. The listeners can have a voice and interact with the content creators and all of this goes throughout the year essentially showing that there are other aspects to this other than a trophy photo.
That’s why we have recipes functionality in our platform. No, it’s not the most used piece of our app. It’s a lower engagement than anything else but I feel personally that it’s important. Recipes tend to be something that takes a little bit longer to upload but also, you’ve got to know how to cook to have one. While the activity tracking has a high percentage of people using that and podcast has a high percentage, we feel it’s important to have that availability for the recipe functionality for people to be able to share that part of their story. Also as somebody that’s looking for recipes, it’s nice to be able to stumble into Jeremiah Downey, “There’s this duck recipe that he was posting about. I can go cook this.” That’s a part of your story. The pursuit and the food is all part of the story.
The share your story portion goes into this evergreen functionality that we have. A lot of our competitors and a lot of people that have tried to do this have made one incredibly important mistake in my opinion is that they’ve branded their platforms and they’ve gone all-in on hunting functionality or fishing functionality. Bruce, I’ve already learned in the several minutes of talking to you, you are more than a hunter and you’re more than an angler. We find there’s 70% overlap within our audience of people that like to hunt and fish. They do more than just one of those things. We built a platform that helps you share that story across a variety of things. Funny enough, 68% of our audience like to go camping. It’s not just a hunting and fishing platform, it’s your outdoor story. There are a lot of different angles you can take on this section of the site that you’re looking at but the whole GoWild experience is helping you share that story.Winning the business isn't one action. It's a series of micro decisions. Click To Tweet
You mentioned something and my takeaway is the outdoors is my life. That’s my passion. That’s where I spent way too much money according to my wife.
Hunters spend an insane amount of money every year. It’s $2,800 a year average.
That’s the average of outdoor people I believe in the archery. Back in the day, I was fly fishing and I was rowing. I talked to my nephew and he’s rowing in Arkansas but it’s an old-world run off this year and it’s dangerous. Two ladies lost their lives on the Gunnison River. I was talking to my nephew and he knows his stuff. You take people in the outdoors and you don’t try to put them into a box to say, “If you’re out there, we want to hear your story wherever that fits,” and then build a community around it. Have I got the gist of what you’re trying to do?
Absolutely and that’s appealing to the companies we’re working with and also the users. When we talk to a company, they realize that we can help them reach new audiences. If you’re a clothing company, for example and you are primarily in the fishing space, it doesn’t mean you’ll always forever make a gear that’s targeted to just anglers. I’ve seen a lot of companies that as you grow and you want more market share, breaking into new audiences helps. When we have an audience that we understand very well and can help market them to people that we know would be interested because we understand you so well, that’s again going back to being good for everybody. It’s not putting a bunch of crap advertisements in front of you and it helps you learn about things you might not have otherwise.
That’s good for brands and it’s good for people. I know the stats from one of our competitors and it’s not sustainable. They lose 80% of their audience because people are down hunting. They delete the app for the year and they’ll download it again, maybe in September. That’s not something we wanted to do. I wanted to build something that could become integrated into people’s lives. We’re building a business and we’ve got to have something that’s sustainable but I don’t want to be a one-trick pony that helps you map and get to something and then you delete it. We want to be something that provided value year-round and to me, education was the way to get there and to be something that you would think about.
I want to be something that you come to at least a couple of times a week because you’ve learned something every time you come. If I go back to my first story that I told you about, I had a real problem that I was trying to solve for myself. That’s what’s funny about this is I love this app and anytime I don’t get to use it, if I’m out of service or I’m at a business conference or whatever, I miss it. I come back and I binge fifteen to twenty minutes of seeing what’s been going on and what all my buddies who I may have never even met before. I’ve got people from all over the country and all over the world that I’ve met. There’s one guy in Scotland who has been on there since the third month when we opened before we were even on android and I’ve gotten to be buddies with this guy.
He comes up on our podcast, people know about him and it’s a community that adds value to my life. That’s what we wanted to be more than anything. There are a lot of great utility products out there that do provide seasonal value but we want it to be something that people look at. I don’t want to have the damaging reputation that Facebook has, where it’s becoming very apparent that your data might not be secure. I’m quoting news articles here. This is all been playing out publicly in the news of you question who’s in control. We’ve been very transparent about everything. You get messages from me and my team when you sign up, they’re automated. With the volume of people we see, we couldn’t possibly go through and send individual messages to everybody but when you reply, that’s us that reply and help you learn how to use the platform and engage with you. I would joke that we would do this for free but I did this for free for over a year and a half. I quit my job to pursue this and this is our passion. If tomorrow we ran out of money and I had to figure out something, I would be figuring out how to get another job working something on the side so I can keep this thing going because I love it so much.
In Colorado, we have a bunch of fourteeners and there’s a whole group of people that have their own community that they bagged fourteeners. They’ve got t-shirts and everything that you want. I see that as another niche play for GoWild and they have nothing to do with hunting. When I was sheep hunting, I met some people that were neutral, some people that hated I was on the mountains and some people that said, “You’re on the mountain and you’re up here with us hunting sheep. How does that work? How do you get up here?” I said, “The same way you do. Camp out above timberline and you do the whole thing.” I’m doing exactly what they’re doing but my goal wasn’t to climb a fourteener but to hunt sheep. I think it was Tom Opre talking about reaching common ground and having open dialogue, not closed dialogue. Listening to you, Brad, talking about a platform like this, you’re going to have the collective group of people that have the same platform that says, “She fly fishes, she hunts and she’s a wonderful human being.”
It’s funny, people within the industry, we don’t get a lot of criticism on this but I’ve gotten some and they’ve said, “You guys say you want to recruit new hunters, how are you going to do that if you have a platform just for hunters?” I said, “You’re basing that in a misunderstanding of what we’re doing.” We’re adding mountain climbing functionality or we’re going to call it climbing for the activity tracking because we’ve had so many requests. People want to track their climbing, which is what you were alluding to and those people may or may not hunt. That’s a chance for us to take somebody who’s already enjoying outside. They’re already putting all the hard work in and when I look at who’s most likely to understand what we’re doing, understand the value of conservation and understand all the aspects of this thing that is very complex but we love it, those are the people we stand the most chances to win.
Going straight to the heart of the Bay area and finding the first foreign-sourced vegan or somebody sitting there with a sweater at a coffee shop eating a foreign-sourced bagel. I’m picking on them a little bit. Those are not your target. That’s going to be that 5% and it is totally okay. We spend a lot of time focusing on these polarities instead of looking at the people that it’s low-hanging fruit. My buddy got into hiking and doing some hardcore mountain climbing like you were talking about and I joked, “All you’ve got to do is take a weapon with you and you come back with food. You do everything you did and you could have food.”
At first, he started getting a little defensive. I said, “I’m kidding with you. I’m messing with you,” and then it turned into a good conversation. He was like, “I’ve never thought about it like that.” All of a sudden, if I followed up with another conversation, that might be somebody that becomes a hunter. We see our platform as an opportunity to help people who are our best shots at getting into hunting or fishing. As you know, especially if you’re interviewing people like Tom Opre, our conservation model depends on it and that’s the way forward. The whole industry is talking about R3 and for good causes, it’s near and dear to my heart too.
Why don’t you tell people what that is?
It’s the Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation of hunters. This is being headed up by a lot of great conservation organizations and to be honest, we’re playing a little bit of catch up because the Boomers, as they age out, people stop hunting around the age 65, not all of them but typically and statistically that’s about when you’re going to stop. We’ve got about several years left before that generational gap starts to hit and we are going to lose about a third of our hunters. We’re already down to around twelve million. There’s some data that suggests that 2018 was a good year and we had a three or four million jumps but it could go back down. It’s been in decline for a number of years. There’s no reason to start patting ourselves on the back just yet.
R3 is an effort to try to get people outside, to get people active and to get people buying licenses again because licensed dollars matter. That’s going straight to your state. Buying a duck stamp is one of the best things you can do to contribute to conservation when you look at the percentages that go back into the environment. R3 is trying to create new hunters. We’re trying to reengage the ones that may not hunt. We’re busier than we’ve ever been as species. We’re moving into cities at a faster rate and the lifestyle in a city is different from that of rural America. One reason I mentioned that small game is dying and a lot of that is because we’re competing with youth sports. We’re competing with Fortnite and Netflix and people have more to do than they did.
I grew up in Southeastern Kentucky and it was a past time to go hunt. We had food and my family would go out for a week-long deer hunt in a couple of counties away and stay gone for all this time. It was their vacation and that was their entertainment. Even hunting, it was every weekend and that was what they did. We’ve lost a little bit of that demand. Getting people to buy those licenses even on an off year where you might not hunt helps. It also keeps you top of mind and here’s the flip of this. This is the rub for me.
As an industry, it’s great we’re doing all these efforts and there are a lot of good things that are coming out of it but I put my advertising hat on and come back to this. Anytime I had to advertise something, if my advertisement was, “We need to sell more stuff, come buy our stuff,” that’s not a good advertisement. That’s not a good way to position something to get somebody to buy it. That’s very self-serving, which goes back to the relationship advice I gave at the very beginning. If you want to build a relationship, find out how you can help me, what are my needs? That’s how advertising works too. I want the whole industry to look at hunting and not say, “This thing’s dying. We’ve got to get more people to get into this. Do you want to come hunting with me?”The R3 of hunting are recruitment, retainment, and reactivation of hunters. Click To Tweet
There can be some good efforts that come from that but the best thing we can do for this is to share how fun it is, to share the good experiences and to share the moments in nature. Bruce, I’m sure you’ve had tons of these where you get out and you get to watch a raccoon wake up or shut his day down. He’s coming around and he’s been out all night or a coyote going to bed or you hear them howling. Most people are never going to be out in nature and hear a coyote howl. There are probably more interactions with that with suburbia but that’s a whole different conversation. People don’t know. They don’t know what they’re missing. If we would advertise this as what it is and what it’s always been to us, which was fun and entertainment, great recreation and a great way to be involved in the environment. We’ve got a lot better chance of winning people over than coming in super heavy-handed with, “We need you to hunt because it’s dying.” That is not appealing and that’s not very likely to resonate message, in my opinion.
We need to can that and get that up. The only thing I would add simply to that, to me hunting is a journey and it’s an adventure. It started off as an adventure now it’s a journey. It’s taken me all across North America, sitting with elders in Kuujjuaq in Ungava Bay and listen to their stories about their life. Elders are revered in their culture and everything is passed down by word. The one thing I took away from sitting there and listening to him, he said, “My life and the history of my people, it’s simple. If caribou comes, we live. If they don’t come, we die.” That’s it. They came across on the land bridge between Russia and Alaska. Are we talking about hunting? No, we’re talking about culture, anthropology, terrain, weather patterns and all these things yet I’m a hunter. Let’s switch it up. What are you doing to attract women to GoWild or are they coming organically?
Originally, it was organic and we started working with different groups. Jen Callahan is our chief marketing officer. She identifies with females a little better than I do, not that I don’t but you get into this industry and there’s been a whole lot of the shrink it and pink it, which is what happens when you have guys trying to tell women what they would like to buy or what they would like to do. Sometimes it’s best to go to the source and get an opinion, “How can we provide value to you as a female?” Jen’s done a great job of connecting with other women in the industry and asking those questions.
We’re starting to work with groups like ReelCamo Girl, which is a strong network of about several hundred women, it might be 500 women and that was our first pilot with that. We’ve given them a place to interact with each other. They’ve got their own trail or forum on GoWild that they can connect with and anybody can follow it but it gives their group a place where they can go and discuss. We’ve got two or three things in motion to get to some more larger groups like that. They’re structured a little bit differently. Some of them are paid membership bases or whatnot but focusing on women like women empowerment groups. When a woman goes on a back-country hunt, there are things that she might like to ask another woman about instead of you or me, Bruce.
It gives them a chance to learn from each other. They can go to each other with those kinds of things and also, networking for gear. I’m not going to be able to recommend a jacket or pants for a small built woman. That’s a big one for a lot of women that I talked to. They have a hard time finding brands that cater to their size differences because the challenge with the industry is finally starting to account with is shrink it pink it doesn’t work. The body types are different. Changing your logo out for pink and calling it a youth large or a woman small. I don’t know what the size lineup is but that doesn’t work. We’re trying to find those groups, those organizations that have been built by strong female leaders and trying to give them a place within our platform.
Jen Callahan has led a lot of that efforts. I started the conversations with ReelCamo Girl and Lauren Hill and Tarra Stoddard but networking with them and asking them for their opinion and feedback. We’ve tipped the scale of our demographic breakdown to where we’re starting to trend more female in the hunting population, which we’re proud of. In the hunting population, it’s 11% and we ticked up into 12% and it’s been growing every couple of weeks. We get a little bit slightly more edged towards the female content creators. What’s funny about that and this is not directly related to your question, we’ve been looking at our data on content creators and I don’t know what this is but when you look at our top quadrant of great content creators, they’re typically women.
It’s not anything to do with bikini shots and all that. We don’t honestly see a whole lot of that in GoWild because it’s not a hackable format. Like volume alone is not going to drive up your reach. That’s been in the news even. Fox had a huge 5,000-word write up on the Gun Bunny and that’s their title but talking about female influencers and that’s not what we’re seeing. We’re seeing people like Jenn Danella who is an incredible archer. She can shoot a hundred yards with her bow and she is very accurate. She hunts bears and travels all over the country hunting. She’s highly engaged within our platform. Aly Schreiber, who is a tiny little girl from Alabama who noodles for catfish and she’s not doing anything. It’s not sexualized content. It’s educational and she’s helping people learn. She’s showing them how she does it and she’s very open that she’s learning how to do it along with them. I think of the top three or four people and they’re females and that whole quadrant, you see a lean, even though we have a smaller population of females. There’s something about women that they know how to curate content a little bit better than we do. We haven’t quite figured it out yet as guys.
Meadow Kouffeld is a cohost for Whitetail Rendezvous Podcast. She’s the chair of archery in the State of Minnesota. What it is with women, they take time, they listen and they empower but they’re educators and they share in a safe place. Guys, we’ve been jerks and we’ve been stupid. We haven’t done it right for women. All of a sudden, women are going to rely on all the women to get them where they want to go because the title adult-onset hunters where people are becoming hunters because they want to feed their families with no other reason. They’re beginning hunting simply because they realize enough of this food is crap. “I’m going to go out and kill a deer to have organic venison for my family all year round. I’ll move up to an elk and along the way, I’m going to shoot predators because I want to have more deer.”
I was at the R3 Conference and state agencies have started shifting their focus to moms instead of dads. For years, they thought dads are head of the household. Dads are the key to get the family outside but if dad hunts, typically dad hunts. If mom hunts, mom takes the kids with her. By natural progress or the evolution of that, as much as guys don’t want to hear it, mom makes the decisions in the household. This rang true from my experience outside of hunting. I had a plumbing client for years and you would think that the dad would be the family’s decision-maker on the plumber to hire. It’s not, it’s the female. She’s going to be the one that’s going to take action and get it done.
All of our data said that mom made the household decisions and I’m finding that to be true when it comes to hunting too. State agencies are targeting programs around getting mom and the kids, they’re educating them together. There is something to this and while the industry has been slow to adopt, in some ways, there’s a lot of momentum to get more women involved. When I started this whole thing, I started with a bunch of research on the firearm side, women were growing 77% over a five-year period in terms of target shooters. Maybe it’s some barriers that have been lifted from some gender norms or I don’t know what it is. It’s never just one thing but there’s definitely more females getting involved and for us, going back to your original question of, “What are you doing?” Honestly, it’s listening. Trying to listen to them, talk to them, engage with them, build a platform that caters to them and makes them feel comfortable to post within our platform.
You have a lady headlining your app also.
That’s Jenn Danella. When we started this whole thing, I met her on Instagram and she had 7,000 followers. We started working with her because we liked her and we liked her content. She’s blown up. She’s probably approaching 80,000 followers on Instagram because people like her. She educates, she’s real and she’s one of our paid influencers because we believe in her so much and what she’s doing and her story is important to us. Her story and how she tells it and the way she’s willing to help other people get into it.
In summary, tell people how to find you.
There are two URLs, TimeToGoWild.com but we have an easy one to get you straight to download it, which is DownloadGoWild.com. It’s going to take you right to the download page. We’re on Android and IOS. You’ll find both of those links there. We’re on Garmin and that’ll have a link. That links to our hunting app. We launched our fishing app. I need to get an updated link in there. If you have a Garmin Fēnix 5X Plus or 5X or Tactix Charlie, you can download our app on your watch. If you have a Garmin, you can connect it to your GoWild account and pull in any of your activities, running or whatever. We can pull that in as well. You go use our GoWild apps.
If you want to listen to our podcast, if you’re interested in some of my conservation comments and some of the R3 stuff, I can go on about this for dozens of hours and I have. We have over 70 shows on Restless Native. Anywhere you get a podcast, you can look up Restless Native. There are all kinds of great interviews on there. A lot of people come into the brand in different ways. It’s not all app users that found the podcast. I have a lot of people who are die-hard, listen to every show and they use the app two or three times a month when they get to get out and hunt and fish and that’s okay. We want to be involved with you however you can. Check out the podcast. We’ve got some great shows on there. We’ve had First Lite on, Adam Weatherby, the guys from Sportsmen’s Alliance, talking about all the different things they’re doing for hunter rights. Check out the podcast and that’s a great place to start if you’re curious.
Brad Luttrell, thank you so much for being a guest on the show. Brad’s an interesting guy and he sees things differently than some of the other folks that have apps out there. There’s a lot of upside to what he’s doing because the biggest thing that I know and that I’ve been able to do is building a community in the whitetail space. That’s important because that’s going to boost the R3 initiatives that we’re all concerned about. Brad, thank you again for taking your time and sharing with us because you’ve been
Thank you, Bruce. I appreciate the opportunity.
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