Let’s say you’re a mountain bike enthusiast, and you have one friend in Colorado who is more into hiking and another friend in Utah who lives for rock climbing. You all have some free time coming up, and you’d like to spend that time together in New Mexico, each doing what you love but also planning some time hanging out together.
Well, Haj Khalsa and his two partners, Jonathan Repa and Pradip Hari, have created a Web-based computer app for outdoor enthusiasts that just might help you and your buddies plan and carry out such an adventure.
The site, www.planitmapper.com, is accessible from a laptop or desktop computer but not yet from mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, although the three expect to expand accessibility in the near future. The site also does not yet allow for planning adventure trips outside of New Mexico. “We eventually want to have content for the whole United States,” Khalsa said.
“It’s great for planning trips that involve a lot of activities,” said Khalsa, a rock climber, skier and backcountry hiker, most of it done in New Mexico.
The site, still under development by the three, also allows users to locate and map such accommodations as hotels, restaurants, campsites and “where to get coffee, buy beer, that kind of thing.” Planned for the near future, he said, are also child and pet care facilities.
“Our application is aimed at all outdoor enthusiasts,” Khalsa said. “For everyone from the avid longtime enthusiast to families planning a vacation where you might want to go biking and maybe some mountain climbing and rafting.”
The inspiration for PlanitMapper grew over the past few years around Khalsa’s frustration with trying to plan outdoor activities with multiple friends in disparate locations.
“If I am trying to plan a multiperson trip, that’s a pretty challenging task,” Khalsa said. “That means I have to gather all these people together in some way and gather all the content and make sense of all that.”
He said he searched for help online but “didn’t really see anything that was doing the job I was looking for.”
In addition, Khalsa and his partners weren’t sure how to go about creating a business and designing a development and financial plan.
“At first,” Repa said, “we just had this fun little toy.” But as their concept evolved, it became much more than that.
In 2012, the three partners entered PlanitMapper in a business-plan contest sponsored by Santa Fe’s BizMIX, an organization that brings together inspired entrepreneurs with local resources and business leaders who may be able to help nurture their projects.
They took the prize money and took off for the University of Colorado-Boulder, where they persuaded a group of computer science students to build a prototype.
The three headed to Colorado over this past weekend for the Telluride Venture Accelerator program, which offers collaboration, mentorship, models for business plans and hopefully more money. At the end of six months, “They will put us in front of investors,” Khalsa said, an experience not unlike ABC TV’s Shark Tank.
“For investors,” Repa said, “you must show that you are willing to pivot to market demands. … You have to let go of some of the emotional things.” However, he said, “They still want to see a passion.”
Khalsa is now involved with The Velocity Project, a program for startups in Santa Fe. The city-funded project is designed to help entrepreneurs with an established product or service, but who need help growing.
Khalsa also said PlanitMapper is still in the beta version and needs “user adopters” who not only make use of the application but offer technical feedback and development suggestions that could help improve it.
Repa described the site as “still a little buggy” but very accepted as helpful by those using it, even in its formative state.
Khalsa offered advice for other entrepreneurs with an idea but little else.
“If you believe strongly in the project you are doing and just start to put it out there, it inevitably attracts people to you who are interested in what you are doing … and they will want to be part of it.”
And that was PlanitMapper’s path.
“I started with an idea, told it to my friend,” Khalsa said. “We took it to BizMIX; they liked it. We won a small prize. We took it to Boulder; they liked it, they started building it for us.”
“There are so many steps along the way,” Khalsa said. “Every day is about moving the ball down the field one yard.”
Contact Dennis Carroll at carroll. firstname.lastname@example.org.