Entrepreneurs / Small Business  June 22, 2015

Adventure Projects co-founder: Acquisition by REI good for company, users

BOULDER — Adventure Projects has moved into a new downtown Boulder office and is planning a revamp of its websites in the wake of being acquired by outdoor-gear retailer REI.

REI, or Recreational Equipment Inc., purchased Adventure Projects LLC recently for an undisclosed sum.

Adventure Projects has a family of five websites that serve as guides to rock climbs and trails for various sports, including rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, trail running and backcountry skiing. The company’s top site, the climbing site MountainProject.com, attracted 3 million users last year, with the mountain biking site MTBProject.com bringing in another 1 million.

As part of the deal with REI, Adventure Projects will remain in Boulder and operate as an independent division, with co-founder Nick Wilder continuing to lead the team. Adventure Projects has seven employees now, and Wilder said it would likely be bringing three more onboard. The company will also be giving its websites a makeover to make them more user- and mobile-friendly.

Wilder said the Adventure Projects team had been spending too much time trying to build the business and not enough focusing on its products. But that will change with REI’s backing. Adventure Projects was a break-even venture, Wilder said, with revenue coming entirely from ads. With REI, though, many of the ads have come down already, but the sites will remain free to use and improve in their form and function.

“It’s better for us, and it’s better for our users,” Wilder said Monday.

For REI, the acquisition is a marketing play of sorts, a way to connect with athletes in a variety of sports while they’re participating in them.

“We think what Adventure Projects has built over the last few years is amazing, and we want to help them scale the service they already offer to the outdoor community,” REI spokeswoman Megan Behrbaum wrote in an email. “REI and Adventure Projects want to grow the outdoor community, and we both believe that access to inspiring places is key to helping people live active outdoor lives.”

Wilder co-founded the first MountainProject.com in 2005 with Andy Laakmann, who is no longer with Adventure Projects, as a hobby site. But site traffic grew quickly, and in 2012, wilder partnered with Mike Ahnemann to found MTBProject.com for mountain bike trails. In April of this year, Wilder and Ahnemann launched TrailRunProject.com, PowderProject.com and HikingProject.com.

While he didn’t rule out more sites being added at some point, Wilder said that’s not the main priority initially.

“In the short term, we’re just going to make our existing ones better,” Wilder said.

BOULDER — Adventure Projects has moved into a new downtown Boulder office and is planning a revamp of its websites in the wake of being acquired by outdoor-gear retailer REI.

REI, or Recreational Equipment Inc., purchased Adventure Projects LLC recently for an undisclosed sum.

Adventure Projects has a family of five websites that serve as guides to rock climbs and trails for various sports, including rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, trail running and backcountry skiing. The company’s top site, the climbing site MountainProject.com, attracted 3 million users last year, with the mountain biking site

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