Home > Startups > Powderhook’s “Yik Yak for the outdoors” marks a major pivot [Updated]

Powderhook’s “Yik Yak for the outdoors” marks a major pivot [Updated]


After trying out a web-based marketplace for hunting and fishing on private land, Powderhook is trying a whole new approach to their mission–a “Yik Yak for the outdoors.”

Until now, Powderhook has been developing a web-based platform that helps people find places to hunt and fish on private lands. What the company discovered is that young people who use technology are not interested in paying for access to land, and the people who own the land are less likely to use technology to solve problems.

“[We’ve decided] instead of trying to get a person who doesn’t want to use tech to sell access to a person who doesn’t want buy it, let’s get two people together who really want access and get them talking to each other,” said Eric Dinger, Founder of Powderhook.

Now Powderhook is moving from a buyer-seller platform to a buyer-buyer platform, in order to solve the same problem–getting people to hunt and fish more often.

“The Powderhook app represents a considerable shift in strategy for us from one of trying to help landowners and sportsmen connect, to one in which we’re enabling sportsmen to more easily communicate and collaborate,” said Dinger.

Dinger admits they spent considerable time trying to make the original idea work.

“We thought we could just keep tweaking within the same business model, and we just can’t. So we’re changing our business model from a marketplace to a pipe and moving from the web to an app,” said Dinger.

If the app takes off, Powderhook hopes to layer the original Powderhook platform into the newer app.

How the new Powderhook app works

The Powderhook app allows people to ask anonymous questions related to the outdoors, with the nearest 20 users receiving push notifications to answer the question.

“The app is kind of like Yik Yak and Reddit had a baby for the outdoors,” said Dinger.

The target users are people who want to get into outdoors recreation but don’t know where to start. Right now, people who are interested in outdoor sports have to sort through online forums for help. But that assistance isn’t local. The app will allow people to receive hyper-local responses to their questions, including where to hunt, seasonal conditions, what kind of bait to get, etc..

It’s essentially a “help desk” for people who love the outdoors. Or a mentor in your pocket.

Powderhook’s goal is to have an app where someone can go from zero knowledge to having an outdoor experience in a single weekend using nothing but the app.

Solving the problem at the heart of the industry

The app is built to respond to a serious problem in the outdoors industry.

“Every major brand in the industry from a Cabela’s to your local bait shop survives based on people going outdoors,” said Dinger.

In recent years, however, new licenses have been falling. Even worse, those who do have licenses are going out less often than before.

Powderhook sees a gap in the market for local, current outdoor information

“Everyone in the industry is aligned around the fact that we need to get new people in and we need them to go more often,” said Dinger.

The new app is aimed to get potential hunters and fishers out and active.

Although the app is free, this industry-specific need allows for potential close partnerships with any major company in the industry. More active outdoor enthusiasts is a win for everyone involved.

Launching by clusters

The Powderhook online community already includes 60,000 users, but the company plans to be strategic in its promotion.

“Something like this benefits from clustering,” said Dinger. “It only helps you if people near you are using it. If you launch it nationally and all you see are national users, it doesn’t help you.”

For the next couple weeks they will be promoting the app in Nebraska, right at the start of deer season, with launches in other states in coming months.

There’s a lot of information online about general hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation. But Powderhook sees a gap in the market for local, current outdoor information.

“There’s nowhere to go to get the advice specifically for what you’re doing, specifically where you are–except for the bait shop,” said Dinger. “That’s exactly the experience we’re trying to recreate. And they are primarily the people who will be answering questions in the app.”

Another way Dinger describes the app is “the front door to the outdoors,” and he hopes the app will draw in people passionate about hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and biking as well.

The Powderhook app is now available in Google Play and will be released shortly in the Apple Store. Update: The Powderhook app is now available in the Apple store.

Ryan Pendell is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News. 

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  • Rick Knudtson

    Very interesting. I’ve been trying to get my father-in-law to make use of Powderhook for a long time and haven’t had any luck for the reasons you mention. I wish you the best of luck with the new vision Eric!

    I have an honest question from a naive non-outdoorsmen. You mention that the value of the app is wrapped up in the hyper-local answers. The example question on the app screen is regarding the age of a buck. Couldn’t that be answered by anyone? In which case, is it really beneficial to limit the scope of available people to answer when I imagine many questions have little to do with local things?

    I’d love to hear some additional thoughts on how you arrived at the hyper-local Yik Yak concept instead of just a great social app without the boundaries.


    • Eric Dinger

      Thanks for your thoughts, Rick! It’s true, many questions can be answered by just about any sportsman… or person with Google for that matter. But, we’re shooting for the gap in the answers not everyone can provide. Hunters and anglers eat up the more general information you’ll find in publications like Outdoor Life. Still more answers can easily be found with a Google search. However, the scoop, the information the “locals” have during the time when a person is planning to be in the field or on the water can be found almost nowhere. In my experience the only place to get those answers is the bait shop or gun store. As an example, try and figure out what’s biting and where at Lake Mcconaughy this week. Hopefully we can change that!

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