Outside business buoyant however going through challenges | Premier

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Brandon Briscoe founded Linkup Point in 2020 to fill a need he saw for outdoor sports enthusiasts to connect.

As a social network and a place for people to find partners, guides, trips and information about outdoor recreation, Briscoe’s app occupies a unique place in the industry – the use of technology. This is an area where Becky Leinweber, executive director of the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance, sees growth.

“The demand for public outdoor facilities is great,” says Leinweber. “The Pikes Peak Highway is a timed reservation system, just like the Manitou Incline. The Bureau of Land Management has designated scattered campgrounds in some areas.”

Finding technical solutions to these problems is a fertile area, and Leinweber expects more apps to be developed to show users where trailheads are busy, where parking lots are full, and where last-minute campsites are becoming available. (Learn more about the work of Springs native Noah Makaiwi with the new Rock Garden app.)

Federal, state and local governments have also recognized the outdoor recreation industry as a significant part of the national economy and a key partner in preserving public lands.

According to the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, the industry adds $9.6 billion to the state’s economy and created more than 120,000 direct jobs in 2020.

The office supports the industry through grants and business development efforts, and assembles regional coalitions committed to growing outdoor recreation businesses, preserving public lands and water bodies, and connecting with local communities.

One of the largest and most important industry events, the Outdoor Retailer trade show has been held in Denver for the past four years and will be held June 9-11 at the Colorado Convention Center.

But the show’s organizers, Emerald Expositions, announced in late March that both the summer fair and the annual winter snow show would be moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2023 after Denver’s contract expired.

Leinweber told Business Journal in February that the summer event, which draws tens of thousands of people, “is not just a trade show. It also brings thought leadership with it.”

The OREC office “is in discussions right now about how we can best seize this moment and what we can do as a state to be a catalyst, to bring the industry together around thought leadership, innovative aspects of our industry and just mutual support, ” She said.

MAKE CONNECTIONS

Growing up in Aspen, Briscoe wanted to get into outdoor sports like rock climbing and ski mountaineering but never found a mentor to learn the technical aspects.

When he retired from the Army in June 2020 after eight years of service, he had learned basic skills from friends but had still not found partners or mentors to develop his skills.

“I ended up breaking the backcountry rules and riding the peaks by myself a lot of weekends,” he said. “I felt like there should be an easier way to find partners and mentors, and maybe even guides, trips and groups that people are willing to guide or offer.”

Briscoe said backcountry skiing is a sport that has grown since the early days of the COVID pandemic.

“It was like a big shock to the system when the resorts closed,” he said. “Suddenly there were all kinds of skiers who still wanted to ski. If they hadn’t already started backcountry skiing, it was an incentive to go there.”

Linkup Point’s goal is to empower users and encourage recovery.

“Our initial focus is backcountry mountain sports, but we’re open to all sports,” said Briscoe.

The app includes a partner finder that allows users to search for mentors, partners, and guides based on specific criteria such as skill level, experience, and certifications.

“There’s also a Facebook-like feed that’s kind of like the nervous system,” he said, where people can interact with each other, and a dedicated space for people to post about trips they’re hosting and search for events.

draw quote

“As Memorial Day begins, everyone is very optimistic.” – DougPrice

Briscoe worked with two startup organizations — UCCS’ Venture Attractor and Exponential Impact — to get the app up and running, and hired Rahulrajan Karthikeyan as Chief Technology Officer in May 2021.

The Linkup Point forum now has about 600 users – “a small but enthusiastic community,” he said. “It was all just organic growth.”

The members consist mainly of tourers, climbers, hikers and mountain bikers.

“We’re getting to the point now where we’re ready to raise capital so we can start doing more paid marketing and make it work,” he said.

His ultimate vision is to make Linkup Point an international player in the social media space.

“We want to start right away with saturating Colorado and then grow into Rocky Mountain West and eventually across America,” Briscoe said. “We will eventually consider a course or premium content subscription.”

People of all ages are looking for athletic connections, he said.

“From a user perspective, it’s about bringing together the entire sports community and outdoor recreation industry – from the novice to the advanced recreational seeker, to the tour guide or mentor, to the tour guide and to the professional athlete,” he said.

NON-PARTIAL SUPPORT

Angler’s Covey, one of the area’s oldest outdoor recreation companies, has seen record-breaking growth in recent years, Leinweber said.

During the pandemic, “people were buying expensive items like bikes, boats and fly-fishing gear,” she said. “A lot of us thought, well, maybe we’re going to see a big drop post COVID, but that hasn’t happened.”

Leinweber co-owns Angler’s Covey with her husband, David, founder and chairman of PPORA and board member of the Cheyenne Mountain chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The Linen Weavers bought the company in 1999 from Kent Brekke, who founded it in 1981.

The Lineweavers, who are avid fly fishers themselves, expanded the business to include Colorado Tackle Pro, a bait and tackle shop, and Pikes Peak Outfitter, a recreational watersports retailer and rental company.

They also created two casting ponds outside of their facility on South 21st Street and Highway 24 so anglers could try out the equipment before buying it.

As business owners and outdoor enthusiasts, the Leinwebers organized PPORA to advance outdoor recreation and conservation and empower the outdoor recreation industry through leadership and collaboration.

Leinweber said there is “movement” in federal legislation that will affect the industry.

The Easier Access to Outdoor Recreation Act bill, which “has been wobbling around for years, has been wrapped into a package with some other outdoor recreation legislation and will hopefully go to the Senate for a full vote,” she said.

The SOAR Act, introduced in April 2021, addressed special recreational permits for engaging in recreational activities on federal recreational areas and waters.

“There are challenges for companies that deal with public spaces,” said Leinweber. “We have to obtain permits to use these public spaces and the permitting process is very bureaucratic. This legislation will help streamline that process.”

The SOAR Act is now part of a series of bills collectively referred to as America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022. In addition to improving the permitting process, the package would establish a financial support program to help businesses establish and expand near outdoor recreation hotspots. among other things.

Several of the bills included in the package have already been reviewed by Senate committees, and Leinweber hopes they will soon go to the Senate for a full vote.

“All this legislation is completely bipartisan, which is great because it sees both sides of the political arena coming together, which is important for our outdoors and our outdoor businesses,” she said.

The state Bureau of Outdoor Recreation will provide more than $4 million in grants for outdoor nonprofit projects in June and will administer a grant program for businesses impacted by the pandemic in October, she said.



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The future of outdoor leisure companies like Angler’s Covey involves an increased reliance on technology and collaboration with like-minded entrepreneurs.



INDUSTRY CHALLENGES

Local outdoor recreation businesses are doing well overall, Leinweber said.

“Some are looking at where they can invest or expand services,” she said. “But there are still some major challenges that make that difficult,” including staffing and supply chain issues.

PPORA is teaming up with the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to celebrate Get Outdoor Day on June 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Prospect Lake in Memorial Park – a free, annual event featuring a wide array of outdoor activities -Activities presented.

Get Outdoors Day has been canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and organizers are expecting a large turnout to kick off the summer recreation season this year.

But “some of our suppliers couldn’t come to us this year because they just don’t have enough staff,” said Leinweber.

PPORA posts job openings on its website, PPORA.org.

Supply chain issues bring uncertainty to companies’ cash flows.

Angler’s Covey has placed larger-than-usual preseason orders this year, Leinweber said.

“We’ve increased these because we don’t know how many of these will actually arrive and when those shipments will arrive,” she said, adding that she’s spoken to other outdoor companies who are doing the same.

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, Angler’s Covey and other outdoor recreation businesses are gearing up for another record-breaking season that’s catering to both local outdoor enthusiasts and tourists.

Tourism officials don’t think high gas prices will significantly deter visitors from coming to the Pikes Peak region.

“The latest study we saw from Tourism Economics says that 80 percent of the people in this country are ready to travel, and 90 percent plan to travel in the next six months,” said Doug Price, president and CEO of Visit COS. “I think RV travel will go down because of the cost of gas, but what we’re likely to see is people will save money in other ways.”

Visit COS has developed a page on its website to help people find free activities both indoors and outdoors, he said.

Price said tourism was very strong during spring break, but he heard early May was slow. But with advance ticket sales and hotel bookings, “Memorial Day is starting out with everyone very optimistic.

“What worries me the most this summer is the return of COVID — the things that we really can’t control,” he said. “We’re watching that very closely.”