The founder of Riders United is an avid off-road adventure enthusiast, spending his weekends and most any free time he has on ATVs or Side by Sides. When he was stationed abroad with the Marines he and his friends discussed what they missed most from back home and the conversation turned to his ATV rides and their associated “misadventures”. When discussing things breaking down and the difficulty setting up group rides, an idea was born. He lamented the fact that the “usual suspect” outdoor social and meetup apps, paid map apps, and forums, had limitations and were decentralized for the rider’s experience. Why wasn’t there an outdoor social app with maps that allowed you to see who was riding nearby, create impromptu or planned meetups like grilling and chilling post-ride, alert others to possible dangers on the trail, or send an SOS that would notify others nearby to come help? As a mechanic, the founder also understood that things can go wrong on the trail, so what if trading or the sale of parts and services like towing as well were available in the app? Sketches and brainstorming turned into a dream to own his own business and monetize his passion. Family thought he was crazy, but he wanted to pursue his dream. Because Shane was not a developer his vision was limited until he met with HSTK (Haystack). Within a few meetings he knew Haystack “got” his vision and his mobile app was kicked off.
In order to help secure early funding we helped create a non-functioning prototype “shell” of the mobile app to show user flows and features. From there, the founder took his concept to an off-road event and the excitement with potential users was palpable. They wanted to download the app right away, but it didn’t exist yet. So after getting investments as well as bootstrapping, Riders United and HSTK kicked off backend development of the mobile app MVP with the following major features:
- Messaging with friends and groups
- Add friends from contacts
- Location sharing
- Send out SOS requests to fellow riders nearby
- Mark hazards on trails
- Event sharing
- Database of users, vehicle makes & models, parts & service and off-road park providers
- Submit services, towing, and parts requests to vendors
- Administration panel
The HSTK Difference
The founder’s passion and vision were worthy and exciting, but his background was in the military and mechanics, not software programming. What we offered was a direct line of communication with our software “consultants-not-coders” who were able to speak in layman’s terms. This allowed the founder to talk through his big ideas and get immediate feedback on feasibility and potential cost overruns. It also allowed for speedy problem-solving, collaboration, and decision-making that is hard to achieve with typical middleman scenarios. We weren’t order-takers, we were an extension of his team. We pushed back when ideas didn’t present clear value to the end users, or were overly complex and expensive. This allowed the MVP development process to stay focused on the features that mattered and within budget. In addition, since we are a full-stack development team everything stayed in-house, and the frontend and backend were able to work in sync making tweaks on the fly as the app was being QA’d. And what started as a dream on napkins while stationed abroad is now available in the Google Play and Apple App Store. The MVP is being tested in select markets for the moment in order to gather feedback and refinement before expanding nationally.