The Journey Began in the 1980’s
I grew up with two brothers in a small rural neighborhood in Missouri during the 1980’s. We were always outside climbing trees, running through the surrounding woods, or chasing makeshift boats that we sent careening down our small creek.
The outdoors became an integral part of our lives because if we where not being homeschooled we where outside exploring. On a typical day, once school was finished, we’d be outside. On the weekends, our group of three expanded as more boys from the neighborhood joined our explorations. We’d follow the creek, taking it deeper and deeper into the woods, past the boundary of our neighborhood, and into the realm of the unknown.
We had a wood burning stove, and to prepare for winter, we’d head to my grandparents’ farm after the first frost to cut trees for firewood. As our dad worked, my brothers and I would explore the surrounding 40 acres, motivated by the rumors of Jesse James’ hidden nearby cave and underground caverns.
My mother, after a day of us galavanting in the woods and arriving on her doorstep dirty and smelly, would say, tongue-in-cheek, that we reminded her of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Adventure was endless.
As I grew, and the child-like wonder of imagination faded, I began to pursue other outdoor activities: climbing, hiking, paddle sports, snowboarding, and mountain biking. These activities were typically done with friends from school, but after high school, those friends drifted away as my love for the outdoors continued to grow.
There is something undeniable about being outdoors with friends. When you’re out there alone, there’s so many shareable moments; countless times when you want to turn to someone you have a connection with and say, “Did you just see that?”
As I traveled to different states and countries, the challenge to find like-minded outdoor enthusiasts became even more evident. It was difficult finding someone that had the same interests and was at the same skill level. And safety during outdoor activities like rock-climbing or mountaineering is dependent on having partners you can trust.
As I voiced my difficulties, I found others shared the same challenges; some even were injured by bad rock-climbing buddies or had experienced deadly mountaineering expeditions. I ran into others who had a desire to participate in outdoor activities but didn’t know where to start. They couldn’t find anyone to participate with, lacked skills, found certain categories to be too expensive, or didn’t have transportation.
In January 2018, the idea that became Huck Adventures started to take shape. After all the conversations I’ve had with outdoor enthusiasts across the world, I started to organize my ideas into the wireframes of the app—how it would work and what features it would launch with.
By March, I had completed my research of the outdoor industry and interviewed outdoor enthusiasts to create the business plan. I started reaching out to the various athletes, writers, travelers, and dreamers I had met during my years in technology, advertising, and fashion; curating a team of passionate individuals that wanted to change the outdoor industry for the better.
We chose Boulder, Colorado, as the home for our bootstrapped startup. Colorado would also serve as the prime market to test and launch the app. In September, I packed up my apartment in Kansas City and moved into a tiny 100-square-foot room in my brother’s basement as I scraped together enough funds to make Huck Adventures a reality.
The years of watching Full House wasn’t enough to prepare me for taking on the role of Uncle Jesse to three kids under seven. There’s nothing more challenging than talking to brand partners on the phone while your 18-month old nephew is sneaking down the stairs to check on Uncle Ben.
The Journey Has Just Begun
Twelve months into the journey and our team has grown to a bunch of Huckers that are just as passionate about the outdoors as me. We’re still a boot-strapped organization and proudly so. Bootstrapping this project has taught me some valuable lessons: 1) the best things in life are created without money and 2) sometimes you have to give up everything to get what you really want.
I’m writing this as we near our launch, and I’m excited for what’s to come. But the launch is only the beginning. I’m excited for where we’re headed and some of the new features we’ll be rolling out over the next several months.
I hope you come along on this journey with us.