GRAND RAPIDS — The $2.05 million in funding Sportsman Tracker Inc. raised this spring will go to further develop a social media platform and mobile app for hunters.
As some social media platforms begin to give lower value to hunting content, Sportsman Tracker CEO Jeff Courter saw an opportunity to further build his HuntWise app that has been downloaded by 2 million users.
The Grand Rapids-based Sportsman Tracker seeks to attract hunting-related businesses such as sellers of outdoor gear and equipment and provide them a social media platform to market to sportsmen “and match up the right person with the right gear.”
“People come to us really for our tool set, but then we looked at this other side and said, ‘Hey, we need a hunter-safe platform where you can come and share your things pertaining to hunting,” Courter said. “Part of this funding is allowing us to now get brands excited about the platform and building this space, and they can bring their influencers and bring their brand power and all of a sudden have a place to share their content freely.
“We had a great app; now we’re going to make it a platform where you can build your business on it in the outdoor industry.”
Designed “for the everyday hunter,” Sportsman Tracker’s HuntWise app provides an array of features for hunters, including custom and GPS maps, public and private land boundaries, weather forecasts, and a predictive tool that identifies the best hunting times for specific game species. Users also can keep a log of their hunts, record harvests and chat with other hunters. A HuntWise content subscription costs $49.99 a year.
More importantly for the company, participants in the latest capital raise included former executives at outdoor retailer Cabela’s Inc. and Oceana County native Mark Peterson, a hunting and media entrepreneur who hosts outdoors TV shows.
Peterson’s involvement as an investor with Sportsman Tracker “gives us those strategic relationships at the highest levels of all these companies” he’s involved in, Courter said.
“Now we can not only have a great consumer app, but we can have industry relations that build out a bigger picture,” said Courter, whose goal with the company has been “to promote relationships in the outdoors.”
Sportsman Tracker also offers a similar fishing app, FishWise. Between the two apps, the company has about 2 million registered users, the vast majority of which are for HuntWise.
The funding Sportsman Tracker raised from 11 investors was part of a $2.5 million equity offering, according to a recent filing with federal securities regulators. Courter expects to close soon on additional capital.
Courter and Peterson first met two years ago when a mutual connection introduced them. They reconnected as Sportsman Tracker began its latest capital raise.
The most recent round involving Peterson was the first strategic investment for Sportsman Tracker “where we get more than just money,” Courter said. “It brings us to the level we never had in industry influence.”
Among the investors in Sportsman Tracker is Huron River Venture Partners LLC. Tim Streit, who now runs Grand Ventures in Grand Rapids, became a director at Sportsman Tracker when he ran the local office for Huron River Venture Partners.
Streit is now considering investing in Sportsman Tracker through Grand Ventures, where he’s a co-founder and managing director.
“I’m a big fan of Sportsman Tracker,” Streit wrote in an email to MiBiz. “They have built a very powerful toolbox to help sportsmen have more success and fun outdoors. As the community grows, it is also an interesting audience for companies and brands to market to and connect with.”