SF startup reaches out to local adventure guides for outdoor experience

IMG_0335SANTA CRUZ—A San Francisco social media startup is tapping into the rich vein of Monterey Bay adventure sports companies with a new online marketplace of outdoor activities led by experienced guides throughout Northern California.

“Santa Cruz is really the first place we went and visited when we went out to recruit new guides, said Eoin Marsh, who recently announced the soft launch of outdoorsie.com with 40 guides leading more than 85 activities. Marsh is a former sports journalist with the Irish Times and freelance writer.

“Our key mission in this whole thing is to allow people to do what they love to do rather than what they have to do,” Marsh said. “It’s a movement around healthy living. Santa Cruz is a critical market there.”

About a dozen of the listed activities feature Santa Cruz area guides who lead mountain biking, surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking and survival skill courses. The site offers also surf or paddleboard lessons in Carmel and Half Moon Bay as well as other activities in key markets — the San Francisco Bay area, Mendocino, Lake Tahoe and Eureka.

Outdoorsie is another way to reach out to customers in a more personal way on social media, said Cliff Hodges, founder of Adventure Out, a Santa Cruz-based company that sells climbing, wilderness, surfing and biking experiences.

“Pretty much anyone on the platform is going to have an interest in one of the programs we offer if not more,” Hodges said. That the founders were focusing on licensed and reputable guides makes it “a perfect fit. We’re pretty much opening up all we offer.”

Both Hodges and David Hicks, a manager and guide at Kayak Connection in Santa Cruz, say they’ve focused social media efforts primarily on Facebook and Instagram.

“The nice thing I’m interested in is the more personal connection with a guide, said Hicks, who is offering a five-week coastal sea kayaking instructional series. Kayak Connection hasn’t marketed much around specific instructors. “But, I have seen other companies doing well with the personal touch of what that brings.”

Outdoorsie users can watch videos of activities and read about guides who promise them a personalized athletic experience.

“We know the customer in the Bay area wants immersive experiences,” Marsh said. Not only is this area “the perfect sporting ecosystem,” we have a treasure of tech-friendly early adopters.

The experiences, however, are decidedly nontech in nature.

“We really want this to encourage people to turn off technology and embrace the outdoors through sports,” said co-founder Mark Mullan, a former rugby player and humanitarian aid worker who is working as a recruiter. Helping people connect with each other through shared passions is also a goal.

Marsh and Mullan, both Irishmen who met in San Francisco, describe the company as a self-funded startup with a handful of people in San Francisco and a small development team in Ireland.

“It’s really about promoting those incredible local brands and personalizing it,” Mullan said.

 

OUTDOORSIE

WHAT: An online marketplace of regional sport guides offering personalized outdoor adventure experiences and courses.

HEADQUARTERS: 2225 Third St., San Francisco.

INFORMATION: 415-604-6741; outdoorsie.com.

HISTORY: Founded in 2015 by Mark Mullan and Eoin Marsh with help from a development team in Ireland and launched in March 2016.

COST: Activities priced individually, plus 15 percent service fee goes to Outdoorsie.

CURRENT MONTEREY BAY GUIDES & ACTIVITIES:

Mitchell Hartnett: Enduro bike training in Santa Cruz.

David Hicks: Ocean kayaking in Santa Cruz.

Cliff Hodges: Bow making, surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, Sierra backpacking, wilderness skills.

Daniel Laggner: Wilderness survival in Yosemite.

Jeff Robertson: Mountain bike exploration of Santa Cruz area trails.

Noah Greenberg: Surfing in Carmel.

Matt Wilkinson: Half Moon Bay water sports.

 

This article appears in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

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