Fresh off their Will This Float? win, leaders of Roots Rated, an online recreation guide created by independently owned specialty outdoor retailers, continue to build their product, and they are focused on three main goals—creating robust content, attracting users and generating revenue.
At last week’s business incubator competition—which The Company Lab organized—co-founder of the business Fynn Glover won the If I Had $100,000 to Invest Award and a chance to pitch to 500 Startups, an accelerator program in Silicon Valley, for a spot in their program and up to $250,000 in investment capital.
If leaders with 500 Startups like the Roots Rated idea, they can choose to invest, and company leaders would participate for a few months in the incubator's program, Sheldon Grizzle, co-founder of The Company Lab, said.
Leaders of local business Supply Hog are currently in California working with 500 Startups, Grizzle also said.
Will This Float? helped Roots Rated leaders see the community support behind their project, Glover said Tuesday.
“For us, and for me personally, it was a great night,” he said. “The opportunity with 500 Startups is definitely one we are excited about. It was never in the plan, so it’s just the topping on the cake. What really mattered to us is the validation of the crowd.”
Earlier this year, Glover; Dawson Wheeler, co-owner of Rock/Creek; and Mark McKnight, Rock/Creek marketing director, founded the website, which allows users to cut through Internet clutter and find a city’s top five to 10 best outdoor activities ranked by industry experts in the area.
At the beginning of October, the website featured 22 cities, according to Nooga.com archives.
Now, the site features more than 30 cities.
And leaders are working with more than 40 retailers and have more than 700 reviews on the site, Glover said.
The next month or so will likely be slower for Roots Rated leaders because retailers are focusing on holiday sales, but after the new year, Glover said he and his team will start aggressively pursuing more retailers from across the country.
They will continue to focus on creating “geographically robust” content and will implement grassroots marketing strategies, so they can attract users on their startup budget, Glover said.
And they will continue to work with retailers who can advertise on the site to create more revenue.
In recent weeks, leaders with the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau have gotten behind the business, Glover said.
The CVB website features Roots Rated because local tourism leaders need to be able to guide visitors to outdoor activities.
Roots Rated leaders hope to replicate the partnership in other markets, Glover said.
And, they are testing a "before and after" section of the site that helps guide users to locations, such as a coffee shop or restaurants, that they might want to visit before or after their outdoor activity.
For that section, leaders with Rock/Creek and The Crash Pad curated their favorite picks.
Grizzle said that he personally uses the site and that it is a great addition to Chattanooga’s community.
“Chattanooga continues to grow as this hub of outdoor activity,” he said. “I think it’s really exciting to have a company that fits right at the crosshairs.”