Combine entrepreneurial spirit with passion for fly fishing and it may just result in a distinctive business like FlyFishingReports.com (Formely www.hatchopedia.com). Five Montana State University College of Business alumni and one Graphic Design alumnus from Arts & Architecture have developed a website that capitalizes on the collective capabilities and experience of anglers to create a robust catalog of up-to-date fishing information, allowing anglers to become fish smart!
The idea for FlyFishingReports.com resulted from a morning coffee break between the website’s creators, Dustin Diefenderfer (’05), Will Bauerle (’08), Jacob Parks (’03), Mike Antonczyk (’08), Lyle Hebel (’04) and Nick Bennett (’08). They were discussing the tremendous impact collaboration has on the world, when they began to apply this concept to their own lives and their passion for fly fishing.
Some fly fishing shops have developed online formats, publishing fishing reports, but these forums always seemed to have a few flaws. The key to a successful online forum is to present quality fishing reports that are unbiased and timely. In order to accomplish this, FlyFishingReports.com provides anglers access to an online community of local Montana fishermen/women, outfitters, guides and fly shop owners. The sole purpose of FlyFishingReports.com is to facilitate anglers in their quest to catch fish by allowing them to talk and learn from each other. A fisherman/woman can easily find out what fly to use on the Yellowstone River based on interactions with more than 70 assorted anglers who have fished there recently.
Although the website is geared towards fishing, these entrepreneurs wanted to pursue their idea for two reasons. Nick Bennett, representing the founding group said, “It is all about people helping people, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. There is no better information. One of our mentors Harry Wallace, always tells us, ‘There are millions of good ideas, but there are not many people who will take action and execute them,’ so we decided to take action.”
These entrepreneurs find it very rewarding to create this type of online community. Bennett said, “If only a handful of people redirect their fishing based on what they learn from FlyFishingReports.com, we would feel that the business is a success.” In addition, he quoted Michael Gerber, the author of The E-Myth, “‘The only reason I build a business is to give me more access to life.'”
Of course, as with any online business, these young entrepreneurs also work full-time jobs. Building a database-driven website with all the built-in capabilities that FlyFishingReports.com requires is tough and time-consuming. Regularly updating and maintaining the website continues to take a good deal of time.
Starting a new business venture is always challenging, but possessing business experience and knowledge is invaluable. The founding group gives credit to The Alderson Entrepreneur Program through the College of Business for teaching them basic methods in small business development and entrepreneurship. Many of the case studies reviewed during their coursework served as valuable resources when making decisions about their own company. This group was able to collectively use their knowledge to develop FlyFishingReports.com.
The future for FlyFishingReports.com looks bright, with the business’s success in the hands of its users. The company is entirely transparent, what you see is what you get. The website’s technology facilitates the online community, but it is really up to the users as to where this business goes. Requests from other states have already come in to provide a similar community service. The intimate community of fly-fishermen/women formed through FlyFishingReports.com is very exciting, and the website’s developers say that the responses to the fishing reports and tips have been great.
The site is currently run and maintained by one of the founding members, Lyle Hebel of Bozeman, Mt.