Bull Moose - guide to limited entry hunting in British Columbia BC
episode 25 | Jul 8, 2020
Hunting & Fishing

Ep. 25: Where to Hunt and Shoot With the iHunter App

In this episode of The Silvercore Podcast, Travis sits down with Mark Stenroos who is the creator of the iHunter mobile app which allows hunters to see where crown land is in their area. Based out of Calgary, AB iHunter has made its was through all the provinces in Canada and into many of the US States.
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Travis Bader: [00:00:00] I’m Travis Bader and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re a new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca where you can learn more about courses, services, and products.

[00:00:29] We offer as well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North America wide liability insurance to ensure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.

[00:00:43] Okay. So some of you have mentioned that I take too long on the intro so I’m going to cut to the chase. Bradley Smokers is giving away a top of the line professional P10 smoker to one lucky Silvercore Club member. You don’t have to do anything aside from being a member and you’re already entered to win. I’ve used Bradley Smokers for years, loved them and vouch for them 100%, can’t wait.

[00:01:04] Members can look in their account under the coupon section and get 20% off anything Bradley Smokers has in stock online for the month of July. The winner will be announced in an upcoming podcast, full details on our blog. As well as a fantastic bear pepperoni recipe, Silvercore’s in house chef created using a Bradley Smoker. Now let’s get on with the podcast.

[00:01:25] So today I’m speaking with Mark Stenroos, he’s an entrepreneur, a father of two, soon to be three, husband, avid hunter and he is the founder of the iHunter app. Mark. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.

Mark Stenroos: [00:01:41] Thanks a lot, Travis. Yeah, those are all true things.

Travis Bader: [00:01:45] All of those are absolutely true. You’ve got a third one coming on the way.

Mark Stenroos: [00:01:49] Yeah, that’s true, I’m going to be a father for the third time in about four weeks. So just trying to get everything, you know, levelled out and taken care of before the next one comes and we really get into chaos here.

Travis Bader: [00:02:02] Well, it’s not your first rodeo. You’ve done it a couple of times already, but you know, every time it’s different. I stopped at two. I figured two’s perfect for me. Three times, that’s that’s a minivan territory.

Mark Stenroos: [00:02:13] Yeah, exactly. We’re going to have to sell. So one of the cars and get a minivan or something, we’re trying to sort that out right now. So hopefully it’s not the truck that’s going and it’s the wagon instead of the van.

Travis Bader: [00:02:24] Man, I’ve seen that truck. You’ve hauled a lot of meat with that truck.

Mark Stenroos: [00:02:27] Yeah, I have, like, I’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to put that to use and just kind of iterate through trucks. I started off with like a little Ford Ranger and then just built up from there, Frontier and now a full sized truck and hauling trailers around and all that kind of stuff so.

Travis Bader: [00:02:42] This idea to get out there and build an app for hunters. Was that something that  just, you’ve been thinking about for a long time, and then you decide, okay, let’s do this or is this more of a spur of the moment? Cause I read an article where essentially within one month you went from idea to first release and during the busiest time you could possibly put this thing out, during hunting season.

[00:03:05] And it sounds like you just went pedal to the metal and, and were able to get things kind of rolling or was it stewing in the back of your head for some time?

Mark Stenroos: [00:03:13] No, you did your homework. That’s good it’s, you’re right, it was about, uh, eight or nine years ago. And it’s actually because I started hunting in the Calgary area.

[00:03:21] Like I’ve always hunted central and Northern Alberta with family and friends and always had that network to rely on and never really had to do my own research. It was always just like show up, everything’s taken care of, you don’t have to put in any effort yourself. And when you start hunting on your own, you realize that that’s not reality.

[00:03:40] And you actually have to figure out what you can hunt, where you can hunt, where you can get access. And so when I started looking for that, that data I realized is that it’s, it was actually quite cumbersome to figure that stuff out, at least in Alberta, and that’s where I’m hunting. And so I  just started looking for data and seeing, can I actually get a few boundaries to show up on my phone?

[00:04:00] Can I actually make it a little bit easier for myself to make progress and the actual app came out of a brain brainstorming session with some buddies around a fire. Like we were just sitting and chatting about ideas for products, for stuff, what we’re going to do. And we ended up coming up with a bet myself and another guy of, I think it was a recurring revenue bet who could get the most recurring revenue in a year for something.

[00:04:25] And I had already kind of started piddling with this. So it was like, well let’s just try it and see, see what I can get going in a couple of weeks. And you’re right, it was about a month. Just did a very basic version for Alberta, just big game, just WMU boundaries, kind of assessing the market. We actually did some guerrilla marketing at like a Bass Pro.

[00:04:46] I would just go in on a weekend and I’d go up to individual shoppers in the store and start talking to them and I’m sure it was pretty creepy, but yeah, we got some, I got some good feedback, so I just kind of continued with things.

Travis Bader: [00:05:03] So did you win the bet?

Mark Stenroos: [00:05:05] It did. Yeah, it’s actually, it’s one of those funny things that it was with a mutual friend that I haven’t, hadn’t kind of kept up with in many years.

[00:05:14] And then I ran into him again, last year at Christmas and yeah, we just like had a great laugh like, that something is as little as a bet between buddies around the camp fire turned into a full fledged business that is doing quite well for, for us.

Travis Bader: [00:05:30] So this is full time, this is what you do?

Mark Stenroos: [00:05:33] Yeah. Luckily, I’m very fortunate to be able to do something that I absolutely love to do, and that is relevant to me and also relevant to a lot of people as far as I can tell, it’s helping a lot of people figure out what and where they can hunt and all sorts of other stuff. And it’s, it actually keeps my self employed.

[00:05:52] I’ve got my, my brother lives in Edmonton and he works full time for me and then, and he’s more of a partner. Like he, he has taken over a heck of a lot of stuff for me, which actually makes it possible for each of us to kind of focus on kind of core areas and so that’s fantastic. And then we’ve got a few other people that work for us as well.

Travis Bader: [00:06:13] I figured you would have to have a few people helping out there because I still see pictures of you pulling in some fantastic game animals and the amount of time that it must take during hunting season, particularly to keep this app rolling, to respond to anything that, any changes or there’s always something.

[00:06:32] I mean, I, I dabbled a little bit in tech as well, and there’s always something. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong. You know, I was out in BC here doing some hunting, pulled  out the iHunter app, and I went and I clicked on an area and it had a, a certain part of it that I guess it linked out somewhere else.

[00:06:47] And when I clicked on it, it was linking to an external site. It didn’t load and so I was in cell reception and so I sent a quick message over to your team. Immediately I get something back, they said, Oh, we’re looking into it. And then I get a response back, says, Oh, it looks like the government site is actually down, but you guys are on this.

[00:07:07] I mean, it’s, it’s gotta be, if I’m doing that, if I’m sending something out like that, you guys probably have a ton of people around North America that are doing the same thing.

Mark Stenroos: [00:07:15] Yeah, we do get like during hunting season, I can get a little crazy. It’s very busy for support, but usually they are very common questions, things that we can get people back up and running very quickly, so most of the time I can pass it off to Chad and Chad can handle most of the support calls so that during the fall I can get out and do a little hunting.

[00:07:33] But occasionally it does happen where something goes down but either Chad doesn’t know how to do or just like, it’s a big enough issue I need to pull the plug on my hunt and there’ve been times where I’ve just crawled up into my tree stand and sitting there for half an hour, it’s barely light out and I get frantic phone calls.

[00:07:51] I look down at my phone and there’s 15 missed calls and I’m like, Oh crap. Okay, I’m coming back. And bee lined back into the city and get to the office. But hopefully, yeah, it doesn’t happen too often that that’s the case, but yeah, a good team definitely helps to kind of alleviate some of that stress.

Travis Bader: [00:08:08] I couldn’t believe how quickly I got a response back and then you’re looking into it. Your team’s looking at it and how quickly you guys are able to address, assess and get a response back. And it was definitely helpful on my hunt, I appreciate that.

Mark Stenroos: [00:08:21] Yeah. During, during hunting season support is like our number one thing and we, we go full out trying to make sure that people are not down for very long if they do have an issue. Because we know how valuable people’s hunting time is. If they’re actually out in the field using the app and relying on it and they have an issue, we want to make sure we can get them back up and running ASAP.

[00:08:40] And usually that’s the case, usually it’s something simple. So hopefully we can help everybody out that way.

Travis Bader: [00:08:46] Well, I’ve never actually had an issue with the app, but prior to that one thing, and it turned out it had nothing to do with the app, but rather it was the government site that it was, it was linking over to.

Mark Stenroos: [00:08:55] And we still don’t have that sorted because the government site is still broken. So we’re still a tri waiting on that but.

Travis Bader: [00:09:02] I don’t understand that, you know, that’s a whole different ball of wax. I got a friend who works in government. He was trying to explain it to me and my head was turned off. I, they have computers that are only open during office hours because they can’t, they have to have people in there to operate these. How does that makes sense?

Mark Stenroos: [00:09:17] Isn’t that how the internet works.

Travis Bader: [00:09:19] Totally. Yeah. There’s kind of a nine to five closed on the weekends, right? That’s that’s how, uh, I shake my head, but.

Mark Stenroos: [00:09:26] Yeah. But luckily like during hunting season, I do, I am fortunate enough that I get out a fair amount to actually hunt because there’s only so much development you can do during that time. So we put in all of our effort in the off season, trying to make sure that we can get everything up to date and ready to go so that when, when hunting season does come around, I can shift gears a little bit, focus on, you know, taking the kids out, spending time with my dad who hunts a lot as well.

[00:09:51] And just getting out and sitting, sitting in the stand, you know, a few times a week or whatever, to, for either Whitetail or going out to elk hunting or whatever.

Travis Bader: [00:10:00] So we see a lot of students go through their hunter training and they have a difficult time reading the synopsis. And I always tell them, you know, if you’re going to be out there in the field, The iHunter, not only does it break it down dead easy for you to understand, you got different tabs. What do I want, do I want a big game, predatory animal? Do I want birds?

[00:10:19] Essentially, you just click on your tab, it choose the animal you’re looking for and it tells you if it’s open or not, what the seasons are, it’s everything there. And if you doubt the veracity of anything that might be populating in there, you, you got the reg’s there as well.

[00:10:33] So you can quickly click that and link over to it. And for awhile, because I’ve been using the iHunter app for a while, that was huge. That was a big, easy selling feature that I liked and I know many people, many others did like. What I really like now is your, your overlays, your public land overlays that you have.

Mark Stenroos: [00:10:56] I appreciate that, that’s taken a lot of work and a number of years of trying to figure out and kind of fine tune that. But like you say, the, the basics of iHunter, part of the, like the base app with the WMU boundaries and regulation or season summaries rather, you’re right. Like that was wasn’t, it, it still is like a pretty core feature that people rely on.

[00:11:16] And I think the biggest thing there is just that it, it narrows it down on the WMU or the management unit that you’re hunting. So when you go in the synopsis, you know, it’s for the entire region. So you’re, you’re combing through the lines trying to figure out, okay, well does this, which, which zones does this specific season apply to?

[00:11:34] And you’ve got to go through those columns, separated lists and kinda, kinda narrow it down that way. But if you really focus in on the WMU and do some of that work for the user so that they can look at that zone where they’re going to hunt. Cause that’s typically what people do is, you know, where you’re going to hunt or at least the ballpark area where you’re going to hunt and then you figure out what, what can you hunt there?

[00:11:55] And people do another, the other way around as well. But you know, that’s a, a common use case anyways. So yeah, that basic functionality, I think people have just come to expect. One of the things we added into that recently is the filtering mechanism. So on that WMU view page, you can actually tap on the filter button.

[00:12:14] You can filter out things like if you’re not interested in any of the youth seasons or any of the special equipment season, like if you’re not an archery hunter, you could just turn off all of the archery seasons, and then you’re left with just the seasons that you’re actually interested in.

Travis Bader: [00:12:30] Right. Even for people that come through and do the firearm safety course, and they say, well where’s a lawful place where I can discharge my firearm? Well, on crown land. Well, where’s crown land old. Guess what? Take a look at the iHunter map, it’ll show you where crown land is right?

[00:12:43] I mean, make sure you’re observing municipal bylaws, everything else. And there’s always I’d caveat there that even our BC Hunting Synopsis has the same kind of caveat, which is says, this isn’t the actual law, even though it’s a thing that they distribute to all the hunters refer to the regs for the, for the actual law.

[00:13:02] I mean, there’s always going to be that sort of caveat that people put in there. That would always have me scratching my head a little bit.

Mark Stenroos: [00:13:08] Yeah, exactly. Like you expect this document that comes from the province to be like Bulletproof. But the reality is, is that mistakes happen even, even in the creation of those synopsis’s so like updates come out every like throughout the season, as people notice things.

[00:13:24] And lots of times it’s us that pointed out to the province because we’re combing through last year’s regulations, we notice the differences between last year and this year, or the fact that something didn’t change and probably should have. Every other season date changed, except for one, sometimes we’ll just call an ask and like, are you guys sure that this was supposed to stay this way?

[00:13:44] It still has last year’s date in it or whatever it happens to be. There’s a lot of little manual things that we try to catch. But as you say, like with the public lands layer, yeah, that’s a, that’s a different animal as well. Like it’s, it’s just an immense amount of data. There’s private land, there’s crown land, there’s conservation land, there’s lease land, all these different types of land categories that have different types of access restrictions.

[00:14:12] And I honestly, I don’t know how people would figure that out if they didn’t have the digital boundaries. Like, I don’t know. There, there’s maps that some regions produce that you can get that do have show the private land boundaries, but it’s still like, how do you actually translate that from paper map or even PDF map into, on the field, on the ground without your blue dot being on it.

Travis Bader: [00:14:35] Right.

Mark Stenroos: [00:14:36] And so, so I think that’s, that’s definitely the advantage that iHunter has is it takes all this open data that the province does supply and they do a really good job of creating and updating a bunch of these different types of boundary data. And then we, yeah, we, we basically put that into a format that really works well on your device. Works well without cell reception,

[00:15:00] so almost all of the boundaries can be used without cell reception. There’s some exceptions to that that we can talk about. But yeah, it makes it easy for people. So people aren’t fighting with giant data URLs and trying to import them into two other apps. You know, it is a $10 annual fee, but it’s like a pretty small fee for the simplicity of being able to just turn it on and go and know where your crown land is.

[00:15:23] Know the property IDs for all of the private land. So you can actually pull up a, the property identifier for a parcel of land and then you can use, I can’t remember the website right now, but BC has a system where you can do land title searches. Based on that property identifier.

[00:15:40] Yeah, exactly. I always get confused. Cause like we do this for so many different provinces, so I know you guys are, you’re mostly based out of BC, correct?

Travis Bader: [00:15:51] For the training yeah. We do work all across Canada, but for our head offices are based at a Lower Mainland here.

Mark Stenroos: [00:15:57] Yeah. I find that really interesting that I get the chance to kind of look at the system in all these different provinces and states and try to, and get a chance to kind of compare how different people do things. And BC is fantastic for the data. Ontario is pretty good as well, but you also have to pay for a bunch of the property, like the private, private land boundary data.

[00:16:20] Whereas BC is just very generous and they want people to have access to this data because they don’t want people making mistakes and trespassing and things like that.

Travis Bader: [00:16:30] That kinda makes sense to me.

Mark Stenroos: [00:16:32] It does for me as well, but you would be very, very surprised, the systems in some places, some places it’s just impossible to get. Some places it’s so expensive that we wouldn’t be able to offer that product to consumers at a price that would make us any money. Like we would just be losing money year after year so.

Travis Bader: [00:16:52] So you started in Alberta and then started branching out across Canada. And I see you’re in a number of the states as well too now, aren’t you?

Mark Stenroos: [00:17:01] Yeah, we are. I started with Alberta and expanded to BC as the first kind of like expansion province. So I could like, it, you said you’re involved in technology, so it’s like, it’s one thing to program something for a specific location. And then it’s another thing to generalize that, that you can update it with all the different provinces data and generalize things in a way that actually fits the system in all of those different places.

[00:17:29] Because different, every different province has a different set of draw systems, general seasons, how they display their data, how like, firearms restrictions, all that kind of stuff. And to try to figure out like a general format that works for all of those is quite a challenge.

[00:17:46] The latest one that we just finished and releases for Montana. It’s a fantastic product. Like I, I kinda surprised myself cause they didn’t realize the data that Montana had available, but they make their private land boundary data with names and addresses and acreages and all this other data for all their private land freely available to use.

[00:18:09] And, and markets. So, so we, we recently just launched that a private public lands subscription in Montana, which is it’s kind of an interest testing step for us because some of the big, the big players in the US are out of Montana right.

Travis Bader: [00:18:24] Right.

Mark Stenroos: [00:18:25] So it’s interesting. I’m not sure how that will be received. I’m not sure what we will actually get for users in certain States that already have that some of these larger companies already have a major foothold in, but at the same time we can offer something just as good or better. Plus the regular season summaries and regulations, which almost nobody in the US currently does. And we can do it cheaper.

[00:18:50] So I’m, I’m hoping that we’re going to be able to get a little bit of a foothold down there.

Travis Bader: [00:18:54] Yeah, it’s a tough market. I mean, it’s people get really entrenched in what they know and what they’ve used and particularly in the technology world, when it comes to your average hunter. If they’re going to subscribe to this technology, once they learn that, that’s something that I found that they tend to hold on to. So I got imagined some challenges there.

Mark Stenroos: [00:19:16] And especially with some of the big players in the US like I’ll, I’ll say it, it’s OnX, right? Like OnX is.

Travis Bader: [00:19:22] Oh yeah, they’re huge.

Mark Stenroos: [00:19:23] And it’s a great product for, for the regions that they support. It’s a fantastic product. We’ve got our niche in Canada where we, we definitely do have a little bit. Well, we have a pretty strong foothold in Canada. Most people, most hunters at least know of the product or starting to gain traction and a lot of provinces.

[00:19:42] But in the States, we haven’t had that much success and that’s largely because we’re not spending the marketing dollars and the, trying to, trying to get the visibility in the US that some of these larger companies have that, that are running on funding and large teams. And aren’t running with, you know, two or three guys out of their basement.

Travis Bader: [00:20:04] You’re the scrappy underdog though, right?

Mark Stenroos: [00:20:05] For sure. Yeah.

Travis Bader: [00:20:06] Definitely difficult to break into a market that already has some big players in there. Being able to be agile like you guys are. Being able to innovate and actually take a look at what the need is. Cause you have to bring value to the end user, otherwise, what are you, what are you doing this for?

[00:20:24] I see great value in what you do. I honestly, I’ve never used OnX. I’ve downloaded it a couple of times now with the intention to use it. And if I recall correctly, last time I downloaded it, they wanted me to log in with my social media credentials or something like this.

[00:20:39] And, and that that was a game stopper for me right there. I don’t know why it’s just that, it’s not like I don’t have social media accounts, but I just didn’t feel like sharing my, my hunting locations with my social media. I’m sure nothing goes wrong there, but it’s just. At that point, for me, I went right back to the iHunter and said, this is, this is for me.

Mark Stenroos: [00:21:01] Yeah, we offer that option as well. Like you can log in with your Facebook account, all that we’re using Facebook or Google or whatever for is just as an account identifier, we don’t get access to any of your stuff. And none of your data ever leaves, that sandbox, right? Like, so you, you can log in so that all your way points get backed up, but we can’t see any of that. Like, we, we encrypt everything. We can’t get access to it.

Travis Bader: [00:21:26] Oh I get it.

Mark Stenroos: [00:21:27] But yeah, like I see the hesitation. That’s why a required log-in is sometimes a barrier for people and we get, we totally get that. We can just provide better features if we have it. So like, we, we do want people to log in, but it’s not for our purposes.

[00:21:42] It’s because we can do things like team chat and location sharing and all that kind of stuff that you can’t do if you’re not logged in. So you can live, like, you can see all of your hunting part partners’ locations on your phone at the same time, and they can see where you’re at, but you need log in for that so.

Travis Bader: [00:22:00] Yeah and I get it. It’s just what, a SSO API, right? Just a big, basic single sign on that will allow everyone to

Mark Stenroos: [00:22:07] Exactly.

Travis Bader: [00:22:08] And I get it. I understand that, but it’s still, yeah, for whatever reason, psychologically, that, that looks like a bit of a barrier, but you’re bringing up something interesting. And that’s the, the chat feature. I’ve never used the chat feature on this yet. Can you tell me about how that, how that works?

Mark Stenroos: [00:22:24] Yeah, sure. Once you’re  logged in it uses Firebase as the backend. Firebase is I’m a Google product, so it’s already scalable, it’s cacheable on your device. So like all of the data that you would be sending out, you can send out and then when you get cell reception, it’ll get pushed out to the network and messages will go.

[00:22:43] So like anyways, you can be again, and you can add, you can create your own lists. So you could have say you have 10 different groups of guys that you actually hunt with. You can create those group chats, just like, you know, just like in WhatsApp or any of these group messaging apps, you can create group messages or single individual messages.

[00:23:04] You can push your way points through the chat, chat system. So if I want to send an individual waypoint to you, I would just select your name. I like the waypoint and send, and then you can receive that and add that to your map, to your own content. Other things that you can do is you can do like it’s broadcasts of your location.

[00:23:23] Like I mentioned  before, so, you can select the interval. So if you want it to update, once every 30 minutes, you can do that. If you want it to update, once every 30 seconds, you can do that. So as your different regions have different restrictions on two way communication while you’re hunting. You should, you should obviously follow those.

[00:23:44] If you’re not allowed, like if your region does not allow you to do that while you’re actively hunting. You should definitely, obey the laws in your region.

Travis Bader: [00:23:52] Course.

Mark Stenroos: [00:23:53] But those are like, as a feature, we can still supply that. It’s up to people as to how and when they use that right?

Travis Bader: [00:24:00] Right yeah, of course.

Mark Stenroos: [00:24:02] But yeah. So chat, waypoint sharing and broadcasting of your and your hunting partners locations are probably the key features of the chat system.

Travis Bader: [00:24:11] So one thing that I like to do is I will, you’ve got to log on. You can actually log on to your, your website and you can use the app from your laptop.

Mark Stenroos: [00:24:22] Yeah from your browser.

Travis Bader: [00:24:24] From your browser, thank you. You can actually use it from your browser and what I will do is I’ll use like a satellite view overlay. And it gives me a good idea and use that to, to check different areas that I’d like to check out in the future. And I see on the app that there’s a bunch of different map options. Can you do that same satellite view from the app or is that only through the browser?

Mark Stenroos: [00:24:47] Yeah, no like the app has a seven, built into the app there’s seven different base maps. There’s three roadmaps, three satellite maps and then two topographic maps. So that’s your, your base map that you can choose. You can then add other maps on top of that as well. So if you have a WMS or a TMS web map, of which there’s tons online like there’s a lot available.

[00:25:14] Legally, we might not be able to just like go and grab all of those URLs and say, use this map. But like there there’s a lot out there. And if you want to add your own map layer onto iHunter, like if you want to add your own semi-transparent papa-graphic, 1 – 20,000 scale map on top of your satellite imagery, you can do that.

Travis Bader: [00:25:34] Very cool.

Mark Stenroos: [00:25:34] You just have to grab that map and add it in, add the URL and you’re good  to go. You can also cache those maps or some of them anyways, some of the maps, it’ll say right on the map, cacheable or not cacheable and the cacheable maps, you can actually select the region of the map and pre download all of that satellite imagery on your phone so that when you go out to a management unit that doesn’t have any cell reception or anything like that, you can pre download those maps.

[00:26:03] You’ve got full satellite view. Your GPS is still going to work because that works independent of cellular, works actually off satellite information. And so you’ll still see your blue dot on that satellite map. So you’ve got a fully offline unit.

Travis Bader: [00:26:17] Yeah, that’s pretty cool. That’s the one thing I really like about it. Cause all your, all of your maps that you have on there, all your WMU’s, all your boundaries are already downloaded. They’re already a part of your app.

Mark Stenroos: [00:26:28] Yeah they’re built in, into the app so that you don’t have to have cell reception, all of your seasoned summaries, all that kind of stuff is built in so you don’t, have to have any cell reception. Some of the detail of like, if you click on a provincial park and then you want to view details about that provincial park or a recreation area or whatever it happens to be.

[00:26:50] Sometimes those are URLs that are linked out to the government webpage because we want to use the latest information from the province. But the downside to that is that that information isn’t cached. And so you’re out in the field without cell reception and you hit to get more information on that recreation area, you might not be able to get it. So there are some trade offs that we have to make, but we try to bake everything in. That we possibly can and try to make it at least possible for people to use it fully offline with a little bit of forethought.

Travis Bader: [00:27:21] So, and you’ve probably been asked this one before, Backroad Mapbooks, do they make it easy to integrate with your app? I gotta imagine that they’re somewhat proprietary in the way that they display their information.

Mark Stenroos: [00:27:33] Yeah, actually they have proposed that we integrate their map into the app, which we can do. It shouldn’t be a problem, we’ve tested it works. But yeah, like as with any Backroads Mapbooks, product, you’re going to have to pay for that layer as well, a subscription fee.

Travis Bader: [00:27:48] Sure.

Mark Stenroos: [00:27:49] I think like, yeah and I think they have integration options in some other GPS, mobile app products out there. And I think the prices can range from 20 to $40 depending on the product or what not. But yeah, like I think we could add that in. If we’re kind of seeking feedback, if lots of people think that that is a valuable map to add in there, I should maybe reignite that conversation with them and see if they do want to move forward with it.

Travis Bader: [00:28:17] Yeah. It wouldn’t be a bad idea. You know, the, the founder of Backroads Mapbooks was my brother-in-law’s dorm mate at UBC.

Mark Stenroos: [00:28:24] Oh yeah. Yeah, no. So we definitely can add that. One of the things we’ve been trying to do is build, build mapping products that are kind of as good or better than what is provided in backwards map books. So we do have, like I said, we do have topographic maps that you can layer on top of satellite maps.

[00:28:44] We have, for BC in particular, the open data BC website has a bunch of WMS map layers that you can add in to iHunter as overlays. So you can go in and you can get all of the, forest service road roads. And you can add that layer into, into the app. And now you’ve got all of the back roads. You can go and get.

Travis Bader: [00:29:07] Really?

Mark Stenroos: [00:29:08] Yeah, like there’s, there’s a ton of data on open data BC, you can go and get all of the burn data for the province for the current year or for previous years and then you can add that in on your own. So we’re trying to make it possible for people to do whatever they want. But we’re also realizing that a lot of people don’t get past the stuff that we supply and make it easy to do. So, like, that’s kind of why we have the public lands layer with the private public land.

[00:29:39] It’s all that data is available in some form or another on the open data BC website and you can add some of those layers on yourself, but do people do that? A lot of people, a lot of people have maybe the technical ability to like go and figure those things out, or they just don’t want to spend the time and $10 is a lot cheaper than an hour of most people’s time.

Travis Bader: [00:30:05] Totally, yeah, I got that. Maybe we should look at putting together a little, how to video on how to take those WMS maps and populate it on iHunter.

Mark Stenroos: [00:30:14] Definitely like we do have a couple of those I’m up already. So in the FAQ section of the app, so bottom left corner of the app, there’s a info button and you can click on that and then there’s a tutorial section and we’ve got about 20 or 25 videos, one of which is adding WMS maps.

[00:30:33] But I think what I’m going to start focusing on is doing some more kind of tasks, specific videos that are like maybe for our region so for BC, okay, so specifically, how do I get this particular burns map onto the app with this type of data and show, show it in this colour, et cetera.

Travis Bader: [00:30:53] That makes it pretty easy to scout for your next morel adventure.

Mark Stenroos: [00:30:57] Yes, exactly. I’ve heard a lot of people since I’ve been talking about this and I’ve supplied the, like some instructions to individuals about like how to add the burns layer and stuff and yeah, I think that’s the primary use.

Travis Bader: [00:31:08] Totally.

Mark Stenroos: [00:31:11] And again, I think that there’s certain layers that we should probably be curating a little bit more and also including in the app. So say the burns layer, for example, you can, the province supplies, a WMS layer that shows all burns for all time in the province. But it doesn’t show one that’s just for the previous year or just for the previous two years, which is what’s most relevant to most, morel hunters or mushroom hunters in general.

[00:31:42] Like they’re looking for the last year’s burns or maybe the year before burns and those are going to be the hotspots. So we might want to curate some of those and add layers into, into the product, specifically for those tasks.

Travis Bader: [00:31:56] It’s not a bad idea.

Mark Stenroos: [00:31:58] Yeah. And maybe that’s something that we could do some of these tutorials,  kind of in concert with you guys. Like I know you guys have a lot of online content and I think you’re working on some online courses as well.

Travis Bader: [00:32:10] We got a number yeah. And we’ve got a number in the, in the hopper  that we’re, going to be rolling out here shortly. So online training is definitely a big thrust that we’ve been working into. Actually, when I talked to you earlier about in the tech world, I had a crazy idea of building a, a sass and number of years ago, and or software as a service for anybody listening.

[00:32:33] Without any technological background, myself really, and a team of about five people. And we went down the road a fair bit and until I finally realized I’ve got no business building a sass and decided, decided to change directions a little bit. It was a good learning experience and definitely learned a lot about product development in the, in the tech world.

[00:32:53] But, I can only imagine, man, the amount of work that has gone in and to making iHunter successful. Because simple things, simple things like I would get in. I said, well, it’s gotta work, it’s gotta work on your browser. Well, which browser? Well, I don’t know, is it Safari? Is it Chrome? Is it Firefox? Is it internet Explorer?

[00:33:12] What version of that is it working on? And there’s so many different phones out there and there’s so many different usage cases. It must be a fair bit to try and keep up on all of that.

Mark Stenroos: [00:33:22] Yeah. There’s so much variation out there and it is, is a challenge definitely. I think the biggest thing with building a tech product is that if you’re not a developer or at least able to do some of, some of it yourself, it gets very expensive very quick. Like.

Travis Bader: [00:33:41] I learned that one.

Mark Stenroos: [00:33:42] Yeah, like I, thankfully, those are my, like the, this is the combination of two of my passions or skillsets or whatever you want to call them. I’m a computing science graduate. I’ve been doing software development for 15 years prior to doing iHunter. And I’d been doing mobile development at work and, learning how to do iPhone and Android development.

[00:34:06] And so to be able to transition that skill set into and mesh with hunting. Yeah, it’s the only reason that it was able to work. Cause I like, I mean, bootstrapping anything, even just trying to get something onto the app store in 30 days, you’re not going to get that going through a, like a consultant or something like that.

[00:34:25] You get it by spending every single minute of your free time on your laptop and your lunch hours and your, and whatnot, and just trying to get something out there and then iterate, iterate, iterate, and make improvements.

Travis Bader: [00:34:39] Oh totally. Yeah, the thing I found with developers, and they can be brilliant and they can be really good at what they do, but man, do they love to chase a new technology. Something new comes out and all of a sudden it’s well, no, we built all of this, but this new thing just came out and we should rebuild it with that because it’s going to be so much better.

[00:34:56] And when you were doing it yourself, if you want to chase that next thing that’s all on you. to be able to understand the different steps in place, not only from the development point of view, but from the cost point of view and the usage point of view and what the UX is going to look like, like I should imagine all of that was basically in your head.

[00:35:15] And I’m sure you had some people around you that you could lean on so they could bring their expertise in the different areas, but you had all of that. And you still have all of that in your head.

Mark Stenroos: [00:35:26] Yeah exactly, and, but you hit the nail on the head with bringing in people that know what they’re doing. So early on, I did bring, like, after I decided that this was going to be a product and we were actually, I was actually going to continue building it and quit my job and all that kind of stuff.

[00:35:40] I did bring in somebody to help with graphic design and user experience and stuff like that and, and he still works with us occasionally to this day. And he’s a great friend and one of the guys that was on that brainstorm early, brainstorm fireside chat.

Travis Bader: [00:35:55] It’s Gareth.

Mark Stenroos: [00:35:56] Gareth. Yeah, exactly. So we, we partnered originally and now we just work together when we can, because he’s got his other career going and, and whatnot, but yeah, bringing in good people.

[00:36:07] Yeah. And that’s exactly the same as what I did with my brother, Chad. He’s a computer engineer. He’s smarter than I am, like, I know that, I’m happy. I’m happy about that. He’s he’s fantastic to work with and I can trust him. And like, those are the things that are invaluable in any business.

[00:36:26] If you have trust with somebody, you, that can go a long way. And if you pick good smart people to work with you, the end result is going to be way better.

Travis Bader: [00:36:37] Well, I mean, I think the proof’s in the pudding here. What other things on iHunter should, should we talk about? I mean, I, I know I’m not using it to its full potential. I know I like it, particularly because I see that blue dot and I can see am I in an area where I should be. You know, I had a, a couple years ago, my wife got a cow elk draw and we were out in this area with the kids and it was just her third day into it and we weren’t seeing anything.

[00:37:04] And we thought, well, let’s bring the kids into town and get them some hot chocolate and they’ve got to be getting bored right? Let’s make this fun for them, we do, we go in, we do the, the whole family thing and we’re coming back. And there’s this area it’s, you know, we’ve got a couple of farmer fields around and the kids are looking over in this farmer’s field and they say, what are those, are those llamas?

[00:37:27] As we’re driving up, getting closer and closer and it look over and oh, those are juvenile elk right? And we pull up and they’re there in the farmer’s field and it’s all fenced in and, and they’re staring over at the two juveniles and I’m looking all around, like where’s momma, right? I mean, momma can’t be too far behind and sure enough, there’s momma across the street in the bushes.

[00:37:49] There’s a few of them. And my wife who’s got the draw said, Oh, it’s too bad it’s all farmland around here. And we pulled the iHunter app and we look at the boundaries we said, well, that’s farm, that’s farm, that’s crown right there and we only have to be X distance off the road. You can harvest it.

[00:38:06] Anyways, wasn’t successful. In that time period farmer had opened up his door and was going out to open the gate for these two juveniles. And he had a couple of dogs that ran after the juveniles, and they just went ballistic in the fence and the cow elks just got  up and moseyed off.

[00:38:23] And by the time my wife was able to set up, but had the situation being a little bit different and otherwise a situation where she would otherwise not have been able to take that she’s able to look and say, no, this is a legal place where a lawful place to discharge and harvest that animal.

Mark Stenroos: [00:38:42] Yeah. I, I absolutely love hearing stories like that because that’s, that’s what iHunter is good for one. Like one of its strengths is ad hoc, you’re in the field, you’re driving somewhere. You’re driving to your cabin, whatever you’re traveling and you see something and you can figure out, well, what am I eligible to hunt here?

[00:39:04] Like am I actually able to get an over the counter tag is my general white tail tag good here? I know it’s different in BC, but.

Travis Bader: [00:39:13] Sure.

Mark Stenroos: [00:39:13] In Alberta anyways and yeah, and you can actually make those decisions and you can find out who owns that piece of property and you can maybe go talk to them. All within like a very short period of time without having the paper map for that particular region or whatever it happens to be. And yeah, it just opens up opportunities for people and it removes, or at least minimizes ignorance as an excuse for trespassing.

Travis Bader: [00:39:39] Oh totally.

Mark Stenroos: [00:39:40] Cause there are a lot of people that they may do something that they otherwise wouldn’t if they had all the information in front of them. And if you have that information and it’s easy and at your fingertips to, to actually see where private versus public is and who owns what you can make more informed decisions and hopefully those are the right one.

Travis Bader: [00:39:58] Yeah. My grandfather used to say, opportunity makes a thief. And I guess the same sort of thing applies here, you know, if they’re not given the opportunity to be able to, to make the wrong decision, maybe they’re going to make the right decision.

Mark Stenroos: [00:40:14] Yeah. Or if they’re given the tools to make the right decision there, a better instincts will prevail.

Travis Bader: [00:40:20] Exactly. What else should we talk about on the, the app here?

Mark Stenroos: [00:40:24] Well, I, you did touch on it a little bit, but the integration of the web app and the mobile devices, it’s, it’s quite, yeah, It’s, it’s quite essential or it can be any anyways. So once you, once you’ve logged in, on your mobile device, and if you log in with that same account on the web, the web app, you can do all of your e-scouting at home, look at your satellite imagery.

[00:40:49] You can import way points from other devices, all that kind of stuff. So if you have GPX files from your old Garmin or Magellan device or something like that, you can import those all into your device. You import them on your mobile device. They’ll show up on the web app.

[00:41:07] You add a drop, a way, a waypoint on the web app to mark something, it’ll show up on your mobile device and you don’t have to think about it. You just have to turn on your device. As long as they both have internet access, they’ll sync everything up, you’ll get all that information on your device.

[00:41:24] You can even do like drawing and planning out of your hunt so you can draw, use the drawing tools on the web app. You could map out your routes in places. Measure distances, we’re working on doing altitude profiles right now for all of the drawing. So if you draw a route in to some  mountain area, we’re, we’re going to be having, you know, altitude graphs for that route, all that kind of stuff.

Travis Bader: [00:41:51] Wow.

Mark Stenroos: [00:41:52] Built in. So that’s a, the, the drawing tools are, are available free of charge on the web app. They’re part of the pro tools on the mobile device. So it’s a $5, one time fee, and that gives you like your breadcrumb tracking so that as you’re walking through, you can actually, you know, leave your breadcrumb track, drawing and measuring and that ability to add the map layers, that’s all included in like the $5 ProTools section.

Travis Bader: [00:42:22] How do you keep the battery usage down with all of those, with the bread crumbing and the constant tracking like that? Because I don’t find, it really drains my battery.

Mark Stenroos: [00:42:33] So it’s complicated, but like we, we do our best to try to minimize battery. Cause that’s, that’s ultimately that’s the biggest complaint or issue with any, any phone based system is that.  Okay, so you’re out in the woods for a few nights or, or whatnot, and you’re going to drain your battery.

[00:42:53] So you should have backups, like you should have a battery pack with you. If I’m doing an overnight, I always have at least a battery pack that can give me a couple charges, but not everybody’s going to do that. Some people will have those little solar chargers, on the outside of their backpack that are just hooked up to devices so they can plug them in some people, most people.

Travis Bader: [00:43:14] Do those work ok?

Mark Stenroos: [00:43:17] They’re not great, but it’s like a trickle charge. Like if you’re not actively using your phone and do actually keep it plugged in and you’re hiking all day you can definitely get most of a charge. I’d say a battery pack works better. Yeah, I always go with the battery pack route.

Travis Bader: [00:43:36] Yeah. Me too, I think it’s a Morpheus battery pack or something like this. Real slim and it’s, it gives me, it gives me a fair bit of extra juice should I need it.

Mark Stenroos: [00:43:44] When you’re carrying battery packs, cause you usually have other devices as well. I always have some sort of GoPro or little camera or something like that and as long as you’ve got like adapters that you can use that same battery pack for multiple things, I don’t feel it’s wasted weight or anything like that, as long as you’re making use of it but.

[00:44:02] Travis Bader: [00:44:02] Right.

Mark Stenroos: [00:44:03] Yeah, you got to, you know, the double duty on everything, right? You’ve gotta have something that works for multiple devices or uses.

Travis Bader: [00:44:11] You’ve got all of Canada covered essentially.

Mark Stenroos: [00:44:14] Essentially. New Newfoundland. I don’t like I don’t get it, but Newfoundland they’re, the province won’t give us the boundary data for like the WMS or the, their hunting zones.

Travis Bader: [00:44:26] What kind of hunting is in Newfoundland anyways?

Mark Stenroos: [00:44:28] Yeah. No, no moose hunting or bear hunting.

Travis Bader: [00:44:31] No, nothing at all. Come on.

Mark Stenroos: [00:44:34] So that, yeah, so we’re, we’re still working on that.

Travis Bader: [00:44:37] Essentially, I looked at the map. It looks like you’re basically across Canada, Newfoundland, I think in territories you’re not up in the territories. Yukon, you are.

Mark Stenroos: [00:44:47] Yeah, we have Yukon. A lot of it is request based. Like if we get requests from people to add a province or add a state, we just look into it right away. And we’re just like, is it possible? And if it’s possible, we add it to the roadmap. But like right now with the amount of work there is to just like flesh out existing provinces, where we have users that are already sold on the idea and they already, they just want more content.

[00:45:14] We’re trying to flesh those out and develop these extra features just to make it a full featured product for everybody.

Travis Bader: [00:45:21] So you’ve basically got buy in for most of the provinces or states. I mean, you’ve got people that you can talk with in government that will provide you with information or it’s already readily available I should imagine.

Mark Stenroos: [00:45:33] In most cases it’s a readily available, like for a bunch of the provinces we do, did do, have to do that legwork originally to develop some relationships and just to convince them to release data, like a lot of provinces just wouldn’t. Or didn’t, or hadn’t released the boundary data for a lot of this stuff.

[00:45:53] And I think once you show a little bit of effectiveness like that, you can actually produce something. They see it in other provinces, they see that you’ve done a good job with, with other products and other jurisdictions. Sometimes they just change their mind.

Travis Bader: [00:46:09] Right.

Mark Stenroos: [00:46:10] Yeah. I think there’s the worry that like that they’ll give out data, it’ll get in once and it’ll never get updated or there’ll be stale or incorrect data out there and I think once they realize that. Like, no, this we’re doing this full time, that’s all we do is ensure that things are up to date and we do multiple passes a year.

[00:46:29] We automate everything so that when you, when you get something new out there, we pick that up. We update it integrated into the app and test. So most of them come on board.

Travis Bader: [00:46:43] That’s good. I gotta imagine be a little bit, give a touch a heartburn, having to rely on the government for certain portions of your business, particularly if it an integral part of that business. Cause I know sometimes new regs take awhile to come out new.  LEH is going  to take a, a while to come out and you’re probably just chomping at the bit waiting for that information to come through.

Mark Stenroos: [00:47:06] Yeah, exactly. It’s, we’re usually getting hammered by people already prior to like regulation synopsis’ coming out. They’re after us. Why haven’t you updated the app yet for 2020? And it’s like, well, the province has, the province as it released the data yet. So we’re like, we don’t even know what the season information is. And it’s, it’s kind of entertaining that people think that we should be the definitive or like they expect us to have things before.

Travis Bader: [00:47:35] You are!

Mark Stenroos: [00:47:37] I know, but like, I don’t want people. I honestly, I do not want iHunter to be the only thing people use right? Like I want people, everybody should read the synopsis for their province, basically front to back. Like you should, you should really know the regulations.

[00:47:54] Then use iHunter as the, in the field verifier or the, the quick reference and then verify as well. Like you want to make sure that you’re doing everything legally. And we do our absolute best to make sure that everything we include is as perfect as we can, but there are mistakes in government data.

[00:48:16] There’s, there can be manual mistakes. There can be technical mistakes like there, that’s just the reality of any technology based business. There, there, there can be errors, right? We do our best, we fix them as soon as we find them. As you said, like, as soon as we know that there’s an issue, we’re on it, but you know, I want people to be double checking. I want people to become more informed hunters, not more reliant hunters.

Travis Bader: [00:48:45] Right.

Mark Stenroos: [00:48:47] I don’t know how you do that though. Like, I don’t really know how you, so you supply a tool that makes it easy to do something. Do people rely on the tool or do they become more informed?

Travis Bader: [00:49:02] Well, I think you’re doing it because, I mean, without the tool, without the app, how do they become become a more informed hunter? Is by reading the synopsis, what do they rely on? It’s a synopsis. And that said that when it gets wet or torn up or having a hard time reading those maps, that’s what they’re relying on. You’re doing the same thing with your app.

[00:49:21] You’ve got the synopsis built right into it, they can read through that. If they have any doubt, whether what they’re reading is true or not, they click on the synopsis. I like the road that you’re going down there, read the synopsis, understand what it says, look at the tool. But I think what you’re doing with your tool is you’re making it so encompassing that if somebody were relying on iHunter.

[00:49:47] And when I say relying and the relying on not just your app, but the other, the synopsis and tools that are within it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Really.

Mark Stenroos: [00:49:55] Yeah, I agree. Like I want people to use iHunter, I just, I want people to be informed. And like I think that’s the goal of like a lot of organizations in the hunting space. Like I was listening to some of your podcasts and over the past couple of weeks and. Just listening to, I think it was Jenny, Jenny Li, I think, or no, Jenny.

Travis Bader: [00:50:18] Jenny yeah.

Mark Stenroos: [00:50:19] From.

Travis Bader: [00:50:20] From Chasing Food Club.

Mark Stenroos: [00:50:21] Chasing Food Club and BHA. And I met Jenny at one of the Abbotsford shows a couple of, last year, I guess this one didn’t happen, this year’s didn’t happen, but last year, yeah.

Travis Bader: [00:50:31] Thanks COVID.

Mark Stenroos: [00:50:32] Well, another rabbit hole to go down, but like she had some interesting points about like, she was always, always thinking about monetization and she said, she’s kind of switched gears towards no, like how do you build an ecosystem? How do you build something that is helpful for people?

[00:50:52] The monetization stuff can happen afterwards, or if you are lucky enough to be able to turn that into a job that you enjoy. That’s awesome, that’s great. But a lot of the organizations, BHA, AFTA ,BCWF, MWF all these different province, specific organizations. Their goal is to create more informed and engaged hunters.

[00:51:17] And like iHunter is a for profit business. I’m trying, I’m trying to support my family, support my employees families, by helping people become better, or more informed hunters, not better they’re hunters. Hopefully it helps them be better hunters, but it’s, it’s about information and putting information into the hands of people easily, conveniently. So that they can make good decisions.

[00:51:44] And I think hopefully it’s having a positive impact on, on most aspects of hunting where the app exists. I know that there are negative aspects as well, or at least I’ve heard there are grievances as well with that kind of data becoming available.

[00:52:04] But that’s usually from the people that have just maybe always had a certain honey hole or a certain spot that was never known to be crown or people just never discovered and then all of a sudden, a lot of the spots that are theirs are now, you know, more well known or they start seeing more people. It happens to me all the time.

[00:52:26] Like I, the, the land that I hunt is largely public agricultural lease land. So provincial crown land, that’s leased out for grazing cattle. We have a great system in Alberta where, well, we have a system in Alberta that allows or requires the lease holder to allow reasonable recreational access to lease land. They supply the phone number, the, the hunter needs to phone in and get, I’m going to, I’m doing air quotes here, but they can’t hear them to get permission.

[00:53:03] And it is, it’s true, like you have to talk to them, you have to see, is there any reason I can’t be on there? Like, is there a, do you have cattle in there? Do you have somebody repairing the fence that day or whatever? There can be issues where lease holders don’t want you there. So they, they can make stuff up or they can, whatever.

[00:53:20] Sometimes it’s legitimate, sometimes it’s not legitimate, it’s a, it’s a tough system. Anyways, that type of land, a lot of people didn’t like a lot of people didn’t utilize, utilize, lease land nearly as much, but we integrated that into the product. Some of these lease holders, you know, they might’ve been getting 30 calls a year previous years, they might be getting 300 calls a year now and that.

Travis Bader: [00:53:44] So you’re hearing that?

Mark Stenroos: [00:53:45] I’m hearing and that, the province is hearing that. It’s it highlights when, when you make anything available at scale to, you know, the 120,000 hunters in Alberta, can’t remember what BC’s.

Travis Bader: [00:54:00] Bout the same.

Mark Stenroos: [00:54:01] Numbers are. When you do anything at scale and you make something available at scale, it highlights the problems and highlights the bottlenecks of that current system. And the current system puts the bottleneck and the onus on the lease holder and it puts a lot of pressure on them.

[00:54:20] And I like, I totally understand that. Like it’s, it’s hard for them to deal with that volume of calls or contacts but the public should be able to access that land. It’s in our it’s in our legislation. It’s, it is public land and, you know, I want people to continue to be able to access that. So I think the solution in a situation like that is work with the province to come up with a better system. But thats hard.

Travis Bader: [00:54:49] I agree.

Mark Stenroos: [00:54:50] Yeah.

Travis Bader: [00:54:51] That doesn’t move quickly, at all. But you’re sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. People will say, well I mean hunting is on the decline. We want to see more people get into hunting ethically and legally. How do we do that? I know, how bout we inform them. We make it easy for them to find that information. Now they can do it legally, they know where it had a contact the land owners, they know where the boundaries are.

[00:55:13] And you’re going to see that obvious backlash and for the people who are concerned about possibly losing their long time secret spot, because now other people know about it. I don’t know, like I get it. I totally get that sentiment. I mean, if you found this place and this is you start seeing other people in it, that’s, that’s frustrating and it’s upsetting. But as a hunter, it’s always the same thing. You want to see more people hunting, just not in your spot right? You want to see more people.

Mark Stenroos: [00:55:45] No, like, yeah, like I, I encounter it all the time. Like I, I, I have developed these spots, you know, maybe I’ve scouted them out, I’ve got trail cams, I’ve got tree stands. I got, you know, I’ve developed that spot. When I see somebody new in the area, usually what I do is I show them where my tree, tree stands are, where my trail cameras are ,I say, you’re welcome to use my tree stands.

[00:56:09] I’d like you to let me know if you’re going to, so just shoot me a text, let me know if you’re going to be in a stand. And then that way I can go elsewhere to one of my other spots and I can, we can give each other space. Like, I think it’s way better to just build a bridge and make a friend.

[00:56:26] I usually, if I see somebody’s car parked at a spot that I hunt, I leave them a note and I just say, give me a call and we’ll, we’ll chat about how we can make this spot work for both of us. And it usually works out awesome. I’ve had guys that I’ve met out there that have helped me pull moose out with their quad.

[00:56:43] I’ve had guys that I’ve sat down for beers with after the day’s over it’s, I dunno, it’s a great way to make friends, if you handle things appropriately and you’re, you’re friendly.

Travis Bader: [00:56:57] Yeah, don’t be, it don’t be a goof of both things right? Just and you talked about something else there too, about the, the monetization and not wanting to chase a monetization and what Jenny Li was saying previously in her podcast and we train instructors how to teach different courses and a byproduct that is they’re going to, to then teach to others and charge them for it.

[00:57:23] And there’s going to be monetization. And one thing that I’ve noticed over the years, time and time again, is the people that go out and worry about delivering a quality product. Worry about putting on the best possible presentation and give the best information, the best customer service.

[00:57:41] They’re the ones who carry on and do well, the ones who chase the money, they’re always going to be chasing the money. They’re always going to be behind it and, and they’re never gonna reach that. If the make  money your end goal it’s, it’s something that’s going to be unobtainable for them.

[00:57:56] And I think what you’re doing with iHunter here is you’re constantly thinking of new ways to innovate and bring that information, make it easier for people, essentially, you’re looking at the value that you’re bringing to people. And without opening your books or anything, I got to imagine that by default of all of that hard work and ingenuity, that’s going into it success is a byproduct of that.

Mark Stenroos: [00:58:23] Yeah, exactly. It’s a, it depends how you define success in terms of, there’s monetary success, there’s lifestyle success. There’s hunting success, I suppose as well. Like, you know, it’s like, yeah, you’re right. Like the business is going pretty okay.

[00:58:41] As a result of building a product that I think people really like, but more importantly that I think provides a lot of value for, for the amount of money that it costs. Like, you know, people don’t expect to pay through the teeth for an app and I get that.

Travis Bader: [00:58:55] Don’t you think it’s kind of funny how people are conditioned like that. You’re a hunter, what did, what did they spend on their rifle? How bout their ammunition, how bout their truck, how bout all the gear that goes with it and the time off work and everything else. But five bucks or an app or $10 for an overlay. I mean, give me a break.

[00:59:14] It’s one of the cheapest things out of all of their hunting equipment that they’re going to be spending money on and yet it’s the one thing that could possibly make or break a trip. If you’re pr- for in the example that I gave with my wife, being able to see, Hey, wait a minute, we can harvest those animals right there.

Mark Stenroos: [00:59:32] Yeah, I agree. It’s a, you know, it’s paid for, by the, the drive through coffee that you’re getting on the way to your hunting spot.

Travis Bader: [00:59:40] I know.

Mark Stenroos: [00:59:42] And I think most people once they, if they get the app and they try it and they spend even,  you know even 20 minutes using it, they realize the amount of stuff that’s in there for the price. It, most people are not unhappy. Like we have very few people that, ask for refunds or anything like that.

[01:00:01] But I think in the cases where people are not happy or they don’t see the value in it, it’s probably just because they haven’t actually compared like what, what it includes and actually seeing what it is. And maybe that’s us not making it discoverable enough or not, you know, having fancy into videos that like highlight everything or whatever.

[01:00:24] There’s lots of different ways you can go about informing people of stuff like that, it just, sometimes that that work takes away from the fundamental work as well. It’s just a balance, I guess.

Travis Bader: [01:00:37] Well, I think, is there anything else that you’d like to talk about on the, on that app there?

Mark Stenroos: [01:00:43] No, I think you, you do a really good job of being informed about your guests. I noticed that on a lot of your podcasts. I quite enjoyed the ones that I’ve listened to so far, I’m going to get through the rest of them now. I’ve only listened to three or four so far, but.

Travis Bader: [01:00:59] Well hey thank you.

Mark Stenroos: [01:01:00] Just because I, yeah, no, I think you do a really good job andI’m looking forward to hearing some more of these.

Travis Bader: [01:01:06] It was a lot of fun having you on the show here. Is this a show? It was a lot of fun talking with you.

Mark Stenroos: [01:01:10] I think it’s a show.

Travis Bader: [01:01:12] Yeah. Is this a show?

Mark Stenroos: [01:01:13] I think, I think you’ve graduated into show, show territory for sure.

Travis Bader: [01:01:19] Well, I’ve definitely learned a lot. Now I’m going to take a look at my WMS overlays. I’m going to play with that on the app, and I’m going to look at how to integrate other maps on there. That’s pretty cool. And I think, I think I’m going to bite the bullet and I’m going to try that social feature that you have on there, the, the chat feature.

Mark Stenroos: [01:01:39] You don’t have to log in with Facebook or Google. You can just choose any email. Like you can go to Yahoo and create an email or whatever. Like you need to have control of the email, but just use a disposable if you want to and then yeah, and then you just log in with that.

Travis Bader: [01:01:54] Ok, well I’m sold.

Mark Stenroos: [01:01:55] But like you say, if you’re, if you’re hyper concerned about security, And you don’t log in then your waypoints and never, ever you leave your device. Like, like there’s no way, like you can manually send them to people. Like you can export them as a zip file and send them, send them to people or whatnot, or as GPS.

Travis Bader: [01:02:14] Can, can you import by UTM? Like I can actually type in a UTM on a map?

Mark Stenroos: [01:02:19] Not, not UT, sorry, you can, like decimal degrees, latitude, longitude. You can add, add them that way. You can add them in degrees, minutes, seconds, or you can add them from like a GPX file. So if you have another device that has waypoints on them, you can exp, export to GPX and then you can import those into iHunter.

Travis Bader: [01:02:41] Beautiful.

Mark Stenroos: [01:02:42] Or you can just tap on the map.

Travis Bader: [01:02:44] Or you can just tap on the map. Well, well, thank you very much for coming on the podcast here. I really enjoy talking with you and I learned a lot.

Mark Stenroos: [01:02:51] I appreciate it, Travis.

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