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What the Outdoor Community Can Learn from the Failure of “My Kids’ Adventures” website/podcast

For those of you in the social media space, I’ll say the words “Social Media Examiner” and you’ll knowingly nod your head and tell me how much you enjoy Michael Stelzner and his podcast of the same name. True, Michael created a little gold mine with a successful company, event (Social Media Summit/World), podcast and more all focused on the one thing we all know nothing about, but think we do – social media.

Screenshot of My Kids' Adventures website, which is still functional - so use it!

Screenshot of My Kids’ Adventures website, which is still functional – so use it!

However, back in December, Michael opened up about a business venture that was close to his heart – a passion if you will – about creating a site, a business, based upon creating adventure plans for busy parents and their kids. He called it “My Kids’ Adventures.”  If you listen to the podcast, (go to the December 26, 2014 edition) you will hear Michael’s passion of how the idea came to him at a trip to Disney, how he worked with the idea for quite some time – asking his friends/family/associates – all giving him resounding “yes’s!” to his query – how much research he put behind it – how he knew the exact demo he was going after – all great qualitative and quantitative research before launching his company.

Except his company failed. He lost $300,000 before shutting the doors in August, 2014.

WHY DID THIS FAIL!!??? Holy cow – this model is the exact idea we in the outdoor community have been struggling with as well. It was a perfect site AND A PODCAST – that handed parents on a silver platter things to do with their children THAT WERE MOSTLY OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES! And it failed???

Crap.

Michael admits later in another podcast one of the bigger reasons it failed is based upon multiple things – one that he was too confident in his ability of “everything he touches turns to gold” and two – he asked questions of bloggers and those who had similar sites -but he didn’t ask the RIGHT questions – and more importantly – he didn’t ask the right questions about MONETIZING the site. Later, Michael learned these parenting bloggers weren’t making any money. Most treated it like a hobby and worst – most really didn’t give a damn if they made money. It was a creative outlet and if they get some free Tide samples out of it – bonus for them. (My words, not his, I have a bit of experience with this group as well.)

And maybe we in the outdoor community could live with that. Maybe we could get Remington or NSSF or Cabela’s to underwrite a website like the one Michael created and not monetize it. Just have it be a portal for parents to learn how to play outside like they did 20 years ago. But how long could we keep that up? Michael admitted to having an overhead of upwards of $60,000 per month due to hiring of employees, contractors, writers, lawyers etc.

If Michael failed – and he knows quite a bit about social media marketing, PR, SEO etc – how do we succeed?

Here are my takeaways from this:

1. I wonder if a non-profit – like NSSF or NWTF or similar – could buy this site from Michael and keep it going? Could we monetize it within our own community? Could we partner with a Big Brother/Big Sister type organization and split the costs? Can we at least bring back that podcast he did? GOLD!!!

2. I hear what Michael is saying on why the business model failed, but I still don’t get it. If this is such a problem in our society, if every parent you talk to wants this – why can’t it get off the ground? How can something so obviously successful not work? We have to dig more and find the real reason why an ‘outdoor adventures’ type site is not catching on.

3. We can’t simply say “oh, we can do better.” Because this is an awesome site, with awesome marketing behind and he had people lined up to work with him! They were all excited about writing for the site, or helping in some way. Heck, as a contractor, I would have been in the crowd jumping up and down going “pick me for your PR needs!”

4. We need to invite Michael to the NSSF Industry Summit – or SHOT Show – to give a talk on this business model of his. Hey, he admitted this is his passion – getting kids away from their phones and computer games and with their family – so would he partner with us??

Maybe I can get Michael to be a guest on my almost-completed-podcast to talk more on this….now wouldn’t that be something??