REI Buys Mountain Project

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Mountain Project.
Mountain Project.

Last week, REI purchased Adventure Projects, a website that compiles trail data for climbers, mountain bikers, skiers, hikers and trail runners, for an undisclosed sum. Adventure Projects is a Boulder-based business founded in 2005 by Nick Wilder and Andy Laakmann. Laakmann is also the developer and owner of the very popular climbing gym POS software, Rock Gym Pro. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Megan Behrbaum, manager of New Ventures at REI headquarters in Seattle in told Times Called Business, “Mountain Project is a hub for the climbing community to talk about and discover the best spots to climb around the world. It is the definitive resource for more than 3 million climbers, featuring more than 125,000 climbing routes.”

Last year the Mountain Project site had three million unique visitors.

Adventure Projects, which is divided into different websites based on the sport, has 4.5 million users across five areas: rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, trail running and backcountry and sidecountry skiing.

Prior to the purchase, Adventure Projects’ revenue came from ad sales. Since being acquired by REI, the site has cut about half of its ads.

“REI is the dream partner for us: they will remove the toll of taxes, accounting, insurance, legal issues and general overhead,” said Adventure Projects CEO Nick Wilder.

“They want us to simply focus on building great products and to do more of what we love to do. REI’s mission – is perfectly complimentary to ours: to help most of those same people find the best trails and climbs and to get more enjoyment out of these special experiences,” Wilder said.

Wilder went on to tell the Business Den, “I love programming and sports – this is the perfect merger of everything I’m passionate about.” “As the owner of the company, I get to focus on what I love, which is building the projects, and less on running a small business.”

REI plans to let Wilder and his team continue their operations independently.

Wilder founded Adventure Projects with rock climbing partner Andy Laakmann in 2005. The duo started the website as a hobby without any intention of turning it into a business. Originally, the site only included trail data for rock climbers.

“It’s just fantastic. We used to struggle just to make payroll and now they (REI) pay us. I am incredibly lucky to be able to combine my professional passion with my outdoor pursuits,” Wilder added. “But as the sites grow, so does the overhead. While it’s a good challenge to build a business, the real joy for me is building the products.”