Boulder website lands deal with REI

Nick Wilder (left) and Adventure Projects business partner Mike Ahnemann. Photo courtesy of Adventure Projects.

Nick Wilder (left) with Adventure Projects business partner Mike Ahnemann. Photo courtesy of Adventure Projects.

A Boulder company is crossing paths with one of the country’s largest outdoor retailers.

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.

“I love programming and sports – this is the perfect merger of everything I’m passionate about,” said Nick Wilder, Adventure Projects’ founder. “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.”

The website documents trail maps that users upload to share with other members of the outdoor community. Its largest segment, Mountain Project, features over 125,000 routes across the U.S.

REI operates a huge store at 1416 Platte St. Photo by George Demopoulos.

REI operates a huge store at 1416 Platte St. Photo by George Demopoulos.

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.

Megan Behrbaum, an REI spokeswoman, said the company purchased Adventure Projects because the site complements REI’s suite of outdoor resources.

“We have a very hearty and robust educational component to our business,” Behrbaum said. “Adventure Projects fits in with our mission to be a resource to the outdoor community. It’s far beyond just products.”

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.

Wilder said he’ll be expanding on Adventure Projects’ seven-person team by hiring an additional five employees – specifically, engineers, designers and content managers.

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.

“I started looking at the Google Analytics and saw it turned into a legitimately sized web property,” Wilder said. “I’d start seeing our stickers around and thought there might be a business there.”

Adventure Projects isn’t the pair’s first foray into web design. Wilder and Laakmann were co-founders of Webshots, one of the first photo sharing websites, in 1995.

In late 2004, Webshots was sold to CNET Networks for $71 million in cash. A group of investors that includes Wilder bought the company back in 2012 and relaunched it as Smile.

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