This issue of the Gazette's "Sponsor Spotlight" features Ryan Linn, of Atlas Guides, who’s branded products include Guthook Hiking Guides, one of ALDHA-West’s sponsoring gear companies. We asked Ryan a few questions about Atlas Guides so that we can get to know them better. If you have any additional questions for Ryan, please leave a comment.
1. Please give a brief description of your company. What products do you sell? How did you decide in which products to specialize? How long have you been doing this?
-We are Atlas Guides, aka Guthook's Hiking Guides, a very small (3-person) company of thru-hikers, with a combined five thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail, two of the Appalachian Trail, one of the Long Trail, three of the John Muir Trail, and many other trails. We started making smartphone-based hiking trail guides to the PCT and AT in 2012 and 2013, and have since expanded our catalog to include 6 U.S. National Scenic Trails, and dozens of other long-distance and regional hiking and cycling trails in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Spain, New Zealand, and Australia.
2. Who do you see as your market? How do you reach these folks?
-Our market started solely as thru-hikers, and for the first four years of our business, our apps spread almost entirely by recommendations from one hiker to another. We now try to reach more section hikers and weekenders. Over the past year, we have built up our Facebook presence (www.facebook.com/guthookhikes) and launched our new website (www.atlasguides.com).
3. What is your goal for your company? How big do you want to be? Are there new product lines you would like to be in?
-We are dedicated to staying small as a company. As we expand our guides to new trails and different activities, we are working hard to streamline and automate as many processes as we can. We also prefer to work with trail organizations and guidebook authors to add new trails to our series, rather than trying to map the trails on our own.
4. What do you think are the greatest market opportunities for your product expand the US market, Europe, Asia? How do you plan to achieve these opportunities?
-We recently added guides to bike touring in Australia, the Te Araroa in New Zealand, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and several trails in Great Britain. We collaborate with locals to create these apps, which helps us reach the audiences they have already created.
5. What do you think was the smartest move you have made? Conversely, what was the biggest mistake you have made?
-The best move we ever made was to start reaching out to various guidebook authors and trail organizations to create partnerships where they can benefit from our app framework, and we can benefit from their local knowledge of the trails. While we haven't made any truly boneheaded mistakes, we often miscalculate the level of interest in a given trail and the amount of time and effort it takes to keep our guides up-to-date. The number of people who hike a trail doesn't always correspond to how many people will buy an app for that trail.
6. Does your company give back to the trails? What does your company do to promote trails and sustainable use of them?
-One of our top priorities is a responsibility to trails and the people that use them. We partner directly with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Arizona Trail Association, Ice Age Trail Alliance, and Great Divide Trail Association to produce the official apps for their trails. We work closely with many other trail organizations to make sure our guides send the messages that are consistent with what those organizations want hikers to see. We also support the Center for Biological Diversity due to theirexcellent Public Lands protection program. Beyond our business relationships, we are members of several trail organizations, and Ryan is a trail adopter for a section of trail in Maine.
Lead iOS Developer & East-Coast Trails Specialist