Montana State University

MSU grads hatch online fishing reporting business

September 17, 2008 -- Anne Pettinger, MSU News Service


Anglers share a variety of information on Hatchopedia.com, a Web site created by a group of MSU graduates. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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A handful of recent Montana State University graduates have turned a passion for fly-fishing into an entrepreneurial business venture.

Hatchopedia.com, a user-based fishing report Web site launched in May, is the brainchild of five graduates from the MSU College of Business and another from the College of Arts and Architecture's graphic design department.

"The site is set up so that an angler going fishing can get on the site and find out what other anglers have used in the same spot," said Nick Bennett, 23, one of the business's founders and a 2008 MSU College of Business graduate.

Anglers share a variety of information on the site, including what flies they've had success with and water and weather conditions. Reports can be made for any stretch of water in Montana, though the group is currently focusing on the state's main waterways.

Anyone can peruse the site whether they share information or not, Bennett added, but the idea is that the more useful anglers find the site, the more they'll want to share information themselves.

Bennett said Hatchopedia.com also sets itself apart from fishing reports typically associated with fishing stores by having more current information.

The site is free for its users, and the company sells advertising to generate income. Advertisements on Hatchopedia.com are not limited to fishing-related goods; rather, ads run for a variety of products and services, ranging from bug spray to fishing guides, medical kits and log cabins.

Five of the company's six founders -- Bennett, Dustin Diefenderfer, Will Bauerle, Jacob Parks and Mike Antonczyk -- dreamed up the idea for the site while working together at a local company. Bennett said that company was focusing on collaboration among executives in the business world, and the five thought the same sort of talking and information sharing would make fishing reports more useful. The five enlisted a sixth to be part of the team, and the group then started working to create the Web site, sell advertisements and market the site.

Some of the hardest tasks, Bennett said, have been creating the site itself, working to make it more user-friendly and getting the word out, which Bennett said the group is trying to do in a "grass-roots" sort of way.

He also said the group has been receiving lots of positive feedback, and they hope to expand Hatchopedia.com within a year with sites for Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado.

Though all of the founders work jobs in addition to the time they put in on the Hatchopedia project, Bennett says it's worth it because they're all avid fishermen who reap the benefits of the site themselves.

For a group of entrepreneurs, he says it's also rewarding to put into practice some of what they learned during their studies at MSU.

"This is a huge learning curve," Bennett said. "But I think our time at MSU really prepared us for this."

Nick Bennett, (740) 507-5607 or nick@hatchopedia.com