How the Cleveland startup is modernizing one of America’s favorite socially distant pastimes
Fishing is a sport associated with relaxation. It’s about having a day to be at ease alone — or with friends and family — without the worries of the world. So why isn’t there an easy, 21st century solution to finding a great fishing hole? From avoiding private property to ensuring you’re allowed to cast in your local body of water, the easy part of fishing doesn’t typically come until you’re out on the water. But Ohio startup FishMySpot wants to fix that by connecting fishing enthusiasts with the bodies of water that are meant for them.
“FishMySpot is a sharing platform that connects pond owners to fishing enthusiasts who are seeking private new fishing experiences,” said CEO Larissa Smith. “Our pond owners sign up their pond or lake for our online platform and anglers can reserve a spot to fish, show up and enjoy the catch. We cover the booking, marketing and liability insurance for pond owners, and our mission is to help families discover unique fishing experiences while connecting with nature, the community and each other.”
There are plenty of ways to find somewhere to fish, but none are quite like FishMySpot. Rather than sending people to expensive experiences or tours with a fishing element, the site aims to let people have their own experiences — think of it as AirBnB for the angler in your life.
“FishMySpot is a unique concept,” said Smith. “When we conducted research during the beginning stages of building the company, we found there aren’t many companies that provide private fishing experiences. Those that do tend to target a specific niche type of fishing with a tour guide at a public lake or river. FishMySpot is different; we provide a shared experience with private fishing. We have small, private lakes for families and large lakes for fishing enthusiasts. Our platform also allows for add-ons to experiences, so if a family is looking to rent a boat or in need of a restroom nearby for young children, we offer that. We think we’re creating connections within local communities.”
Like any company, FishMySpot has had to overcome challenges to work through the COVID-19 pandemic. But as they’ve found a way to move forward, the company is finding that people are in search of outdoor, social distancing-ready activities that can bring a group or family together safely, making their product perfect for the new normal. And with that momentum, FishMySpot has its sights set on expanding across the country.
“We’re able to provide a social distancing activity for people to get outside, continue relationships with each other and enjoy nature and we’re seeing growth as a result,” said Smith. “In the short term, we plan to grow within Ohio by adding 40 more ponds this fishing season. As we look to the future, we plan to expand in nearby states with our overall goal to be a national presence with enhancements to our technology. We also plan to expand to provide other outdoor activities to users as we grow. Our goal is to get our community outside and engaged with nature through private land while allowing our landowners to earn an income.”
For the Cleveland-based company, northeast Ohio has been the perfect home. In addition to all the activities around major tourist attraction Lake Erie, the area is also known for a variety of good ponds and fishing spots. FishMySpot has also looked to resources in the area for advice and mentoring, and Smith said Ohio has exactly what the company needs for a foundation that can support nationwide growth.
“Ohio leads the way in supporting small businesses that can grow and impact the world,” said Smith. “Specifically, northeast Ohio has been a great place to start a business because of the local resources available to startups. The entrepreneurial environment in northeast Ohio has a lot of organizations that have provided guidance and expertise to us, including JumpStart, the Youngstown Business Incubator, Bounce Innovation Hub and the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise. Ohio has everything we need to grow and scale a business.”