Pairing Hunters And Anglers With Landowners
Hunting and fishing are usually ways to step away from technology and into nature — but sometimes taking that step requires a technical assist.
Location, Location, Location + Technology
That’s where Strut Collar comes in. Strut Collar is a new business in the process of launching that pairs would-be hunters, anglers, and others sportsmen and women with landowners. The landowner can fully utilize their land and charge a fee to hunters and fishers, and the outdoor enthusiast is able to access land that was previously off-limits.
Strut Collar was born of its founder, Mark Mooring’s, own struggles to find a place to hunt while in the Navy and living all over the country.
“I was inspired to create Strut Collar when I was in flight school and couldn’t find anywhere in South Texas to hunt,” Mooring said. “Being in the military and having other time commitments, I wasn’t able to resolve that then I was there. I moved to Virginia and found a few places to hunt, but even then I had to drive an hour and change even though there was a vast amount of land around me. I bumped up against the same problem in Texas, Florida, Mississippi, and even Maryland … I kept hitting the same problem over and over again, and you know someone is out there who would let you use their land, especially if you’re willing to pay for it. But it’s finding a needle in a haystack to connect those dots.”
A few years later, during Operation Enduring Freedom, Mooring’s plane was damaged during landing when a piece of support equipment was left attached to it. He was waiting for the investigation to wrap up, reading a Forbes article about a similar business concept.
“That solidified the idea in my mind,” he said of the article. “Fittingly, the low point in my Navy career served as the catalyst to getting my business off the ground.”
The piece of equipment that damaged the plane was called a strut collar — and so a name was born.
How It Works
Strut Collar is an online website where people can list property and hunters and anglers can sign up for free. Advertising streams and online booking, using PayPal, will pay the bills, Mark said. It will be a similar concept to a real estate magazine, and people can pay to boost either what they’re looking for, or advertise the land they have available.
Mooring plans to launch his site in October, starting local in North Idaho and then spreading outwards. He has had positive feedback and interest, but doesn’t want to sign anyone up until the site is finalized, for fear of accidently deleting them.
Networking – An Idea Starts Looking Like A Businesses
Mark is originally from Georgia, and moved to Moscow about a year and a half ago. His wife secured a job with the 2016 Be the Entrepreneur Bootcamp, an annual camp aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs in the Inland Northwest. Although George Tanner, the camp’s curriculum chair, had tried to recruit Mark for the event, it was his wife’s encouragement that convinced him to try it out.
“She got the scoop for me,” Mark said. “Once it became clear what was happening, I knew it would be a useful thing for me to go to.”
Be The Entrepreneur Bootcamp
Although the chance to meet fellow freshman-level entrepreneurs was valuable, Mark’s biggest takeaway was meeting people a little more advanced in their own entrepreneurial goals. That mentorship was valuable, he said.
“I made friends with a couple people who were a few years or even decades down the line from their startup,” he said. “Even though their items weren’t exactly one-to-one applicable with what I’m doing, there are still a lot of similarities … Some of their battles are the same ones I’m struggling with now. So talking to someone who was in the same position I am now a year ago is useful, as is talking to someone who was in my same spot 15 years ago. Both have valuable lessons that they can instill to my endgame.”
Some of their battles are the same ones I’m struggling with now. So talking to someone who was in the same position I am now a year ago is useful, as is talking to someone who was in my same spot 15 years ago. Both have valuable lessons that they can instill to my endgame.”
Mark also competed in the Palouse Challenge, a Shark Tank-style competition, featuring three “Sharks” from the region and a number of investors.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “Having the feedback from three potential investors was invaluable. Frankly, their guidance led to an iteration in Strut Collar.”
The Journey Continues
The Bootcamp and post-Bootcamp work have led Mark closer to launch. The website should go live in October.
But even with the work of a startup, Mark is keeping busy; he’s also an assistant professor at the University of Idaho, and advises 10 to 20 students each semester.
“It’s one of those things where I’ll have something in my mind that I need to take care of,” he said. “You have to be diligent and you have to find the time to shove it in somewhere, otherwise nobody else will do it. Maybe that means getting up at 5 a.m. and doing it before I eat and go to work, or doing it at night before bed. Right now, I’m a one-man show, so if I don’t take care of something, who does?”
Mark is finding time for his favorite hobby, though.
“I love the opportunities here to go hunting and camping and fishing,” he said of living in North Idaho. “Moscow is a nice little small town and this is a really nice area.”
Hopefully his new business will help him get outside more.
“It would clean up the process a lot if someone saw a listing, paid online, and met up with someone,” he said. “It’s good to just know that there is someone on the other side of the equation looking for the same thing you’re looking for.”