published Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Chattanooga-based outdoor activity website RootsRated keeps extending

Local outdoors website RootsRated.com continues to grow and expand its reach to other markets.
Local outdoors website RootsRated.com continues to grow and expand its reach to other markets.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Chattanooga-based website for outdoor activities information throughout the nation keeps expanding in locations and details. Next month it has a chance to make a big leap in resources as well.

RootsRated.com's victory in the Will This Float? competition on Nov. 15 earned the online adventure guide a presentation for a possible $250,000 from 500 Startups, an Internet business accelerator based in Northern California.

Chattanooga's SupplyHog.com, which expedites the ordering of building materials, is part of the 500 Startups program, and RootsRated co-founder Fynn Glover said Wednesday that he has been working with SupplyHog CEO Nathan Derrick and expects to make his presentation in person in San Franciso in mid-January.

Derrick is responsible for the offer to whoever won the 2012 Will This Float? voting, Glover said.

"SupplyHog is a really cool company, and it's great for Chattanooga that it's part of 500 Startups," Glover said.

As for his own venture, RootsRated now has activity details for more than 30 cities through more than 700 reviews provided by 40-plus outdoors retailers. Two Mississippi areas, Jackson and Oxford, are queued up and ready to go live early next week.

Among others, Glover said, "Birmingham and Huntsville, Alabama, have gone live with excellent content, thanks to the leadership of Mountain High Outfitters. Over the last month, Knoxville (River Sports Outfitters), Columbia, South Carolina, and Athens, Georgia (Half-Moon Outfitters), have all gone live.

"Great Outdoor Provision Company is the leading content provider. They have generated all the trail running, hiking and flat-water paddling content for seven cities across North Carolina: Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Wilmington, Winston-Salem and Chapel Hill. They are incredible leaders in the retail community and have contributed so meaningfully, because they know RootsRated is a great tool to engage customers in the active outdoor lifestyle and market their local expertise."

Another area recently added is Lafayette, La., which Glover noted might not be readily associated with outdoor recreation.

"But John and Becky Williams at Pack and Paddle run an amazing shop," he said, "and they have done a tremendous job at building community around the beautiful paddling opportunities in that part of the country."

Then there is Lander, Wyo.

"It's a tiny town, but it sits at the gateway to the Wind River Range, one of the country's most inspiring landscapes," Glover said. "And of course you have the great destination cities, such as Jackson, Wyoming, and Aspen, Colorado. And Minneapolis has the nation's leading urban park systems. It's truly an incredible community for outdoor recreation, and Midwest Mountaineering is a fantastic local shop."

Besides the two Mississippi cities, others soon to show up with RootsRated activity reviews are Memphis; Louisville, Ky.; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Portland, Ore.; Philadelphia; Austin, Texas, and Santa Barbara, Calif.

Glover acknowledged that "building this amount of content from scratch with the budget of a lean startup" is a "challenge," but the extensive information and its easy navigation are establishing RootsRated as a reliable, well-perceived resource for outdoors lovers throughout America. He and his partners have focused on building the site as opposed to marketing it, but that's another way the retailers providing reviews will help.

Some of those providing the expert content have been slower than others with their entries, but as Glover pointed out, "We're doing something that hasn't been done before, and undoubtedly it will take time."

With his co-founders from Rock/Creek and that retailer's ongoing support, Glover noted that Chattanooga remains "the leading place" for web hits.

"Chattanooga is a lab for this it makes sense that it's the leading traffic city," Glover said, "especially since there is so much to do around here."

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