Tired of being surrounded by steel and concrete? Want to bond over something other than commiserating at happy hour?
Join a community of outdoor enthusiasts and meet your brand new adventure buddies OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour
To find out more behind how OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews OutdoorFest founder, Sarah Knapp
More about the episode…
Josh sits down with OutdoorFest founder Sarah Knapp. Sarah was a woman of two worlds before starting OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour. Having lived in both NYC and Utah, her passion for the culture of the city and love and need for the outdoors created the spark to start something to help city dwellers break out of their urban cage. In this episode of the RY Outfitters Podcast Sarah walks us through how she went from pursuing a career in academia to venturing off and finding the road less travelled by creating OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour. Join us as we gain a little more insight on the good, the bad, and the glory of starting and planning outdoor events from the ground up.
Have an opinion? We want to hear it! Join the conversation and leave a comment, check out show notes, and get all the links mentioned in this episode below
- Check out OutdoorFest’s website to find outdoor events in the NYC area
- More about the team behind OutdoorFest
- Follow OutdoorFest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
- Join a Mappy Hour Chapter near you and find outdoor events near you
- Follow Mappy Hour on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
- More FAQs about Mappy Hour
- What is OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour all about?
- “OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour work together to show that you can live in a city and love the outdoors, and that’s our tagline. Outdoor Fest really exists mainly in New York City with a 10 day outdoor adventure festival in the summer…Mappy Hour is another program which started in New York but, has now grown to a bunch of cities across the country. Our goal with that is to do the same thing through this structure that we can share with other cities and other leaders throughout the country…”
- How did you get started with OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour?
- “I had moved to Utah to be a ski bum then I came back and worked for Discover Outdoors. I wanted to figure out how to balance my love for New York City with my passion for the outdoors. Having the experience of living in New York City and having the experience of living in the mountains and wanting to find a middle ground of the impetus for all of it…”
- We’re you always an outdoorsy person?
- “I wouldn’t say I came from a particularly outdoors family. We were a Disneyland family of sorts and, even to this day my mom does not like the outdoors as much…I got sent to summer camp and I think being there helped and I was just drawn to it…”
- How did you come up with the “product” that you offer
- “Our product and our clients are sponsors. We don’t make a ton of money on ticket sales, we really try to keep everything free or super low cost…The reason we stop doing that is less about the monetary value of the ticket and more about the logistic difficulties and challenges present if you don’t charge people. One of our main goals is accessibility to the outdoors…”
- What can be expected while attending an event held by OutdoorFest/Mappy Hour?
- “Mappy Hour is definitely the one that reaches the farthest because we have chapters in different cities…The structure for Mappy Hour is taking the traditional happy hour and turning it into the event that we wanted…”
- How often are the events?
- “The events are usually monthly or bimonthly depending on the chapter and the time of year…”
- Did you have any mentors build OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour?
- “I think one person who recently has been a big mentor is Ian Cumming who is the founder of a group called Travel Massive…He flew to New York and just camped out with me for three days while we built this website and, since then has been extremely generous in sharing his experience, both good and bad…”
- What is your day to day like in running Mappy Hour and Outdoorfest?
- “I am the only person full time working on all this stuff. It changes depending on what’s going on in my life personally… When I started it was just the festival. It wasn’t easier because it was all new…growing means there’s all these different levels now…”
- What has been the hardest part about starting and building OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour?
- “Figuring out the business side of it…the numbers and really being able to focus on that. Naturally I like the programing, I like talking to people and building the relationships…The part that, I think some people get really excited about, like the strategy and budgeting; For me, I had to learn all that…”
- Did you ever see yourself as an entrepreneur growing up?
- “I don’t think so. I really thought I would go into academy, get a PHD in history, and working in a museum…I was always really strong in the english and history side of things…I think because of that business wouldn’t be for me. It only became part of my consciousness after college, after I decided I didn’t want to go into academia…”
- Was there a specific event that pushed you to get started as an entrepreneur?
- “There’s kind of this seed that plants itself in your mind…I was making a case in my mind of how realistic it was and instead of thinking it was impossible, it kept growing as this very reasonable thing that I could pursue…”
- What are some of your biggest fears in regards to OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour?
- “Money is always a fear… If I stop selling things, I will stop having an income and then this whole thing will not work anymore. I’m trying to grow beyond it. Scaling and having a team and having support is the answer to that…”
- What have been some of the biggest mistakes that you’ve made?
- “One mistake that I always like to say is the biggest mistakes I’ve ever had is, one of our final speakers for OutdoorFest is Ashima Shiraishi, who the climbing superstar prodigy. I had a photographer and was really happy with all the shots he got but we didn’t video tape it… Little things like that where I thought I had a really good plan and it ended up that there was a very vital element missing…”
- How do you measure the grow of your festival?
- “We can’t measure by attendees. We have a few different measurements including participant members, then there’s new participant members, and lastly people who are repeats as well…those are the people who are really engaging in the community beyond just going to one event during the festival… ”
- What channels have you been using to reach these people and grow your community?
- We have a lot of media through the festival. We’ll have every summer a bunch of articles and that’s always helpful for reaching big numbers…In terms of being hyper local and getting in front of the right audience that’s always helpful for New York City events…It’s usually word of mouth that spreads Mappy Hour…”
- What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a business?
- “For the outdoor industry there are two things that are important and need to be happening right now. One is making sure that whatever we’re doing helps the larger community…all of our businesses will not work if there aren’t public parks or public lands…The second thing, for starting a business, I think there is this huge opportunity with people who don’t know they’re outdoor enthusiasts yet…I think that’s an interesting area and that’s the market that there is the most explicit growth possibility for…”
- Where do you see OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour headed into the future?
- “For us the goal for OutdoorFest is to be able to create something that is very much for New York City in terms of where to go, what to do, and who to do it with…producing content that really makes it easy for people to get outside and make it clear…For Mappy Hour, it’s kind of the opposite. It’s based around the idea of taking the structure we built in New York and make it really easy for anyone to take and apply it to their community…”
- What’s the best part about running OutdoorFest and Mappy Hour?
- “The people. I’ve made so many friends personally. Through these events just from going… A lot of Mappy Hour leaders have become close friends because we work together on this things that’s a passion project for all of us…”