... I was in a half-lit parking lot, forehead to steering wheel, clutching my phone for dear life. My dear life had to be in there, somewhere. It was 5ish, dark in the New England winter evening, and I had just gotten out of another meeting on the road. I wanted a little workout, or a yoga class before I sang my young daughter to sleep, then a good meal and a place where I can lay my head. She was two time zones away. Pfffffff........
Back to my phone. Search for my hotel. Found it. OK, food. Something healthy, as the slacks are running a little tight. Where? Over there? Two towns away? OK, got it; write it down for later. Workout? I have my bike and lights, and it’s mild without snow on the ground. Trails? No idea. 6:00 now, and the local shop is closed, so I scan around the map and find a park that has some riding. But wait… isn’t the hotel three towns away in the other direction? Search for a yoga studio. Cool, Vinyasa at 6:00. 10 minutes ago now, and 5 minutes away. Not cool. Another night sitting in my car, on my phone. I shiver in the new cold.
I remember thinking of the tagline burrowing into our lexicon at the time – “There's an app for that.” There’s got to be an app for this. Maybe I’d like this gig more if I was sweating right now, instead of sweating my lifestyle. My meditation is a practice of being with what is, sure, but that doesn’t mean I need to accept the things I can change.
Two years down the trail, my daughter and I are coming out of the Boston Rock Gym in the midst of our typical East Coast summer trip. We stayed a little later, thinking we’d have no trouble finding a hotel on a weekday night, but Lo! the National Sand Castle Championships are two towns over, and the hotels are booked in an hour radius. I start laughing, she does, too, but not as heartily as me, and soon I hear from the dark seat behind me “Daddy, where are we going to stay?” with a slight edge. We like to leave a little margin for adventure in our travel plans, but it’s late and we have to eat yet, and we just blew another 30 minutes on sand castle hotels.
You might be thinking, “How about a little planning, Chris?” and you’d be right. I could plan better. But life isn’t always plannable, and leaving room for serendipity makes the journey infinitely more interesting. The flip side is that there’s absolutely nothing inspiring about yet another salad bar of frankenveggies at some form of Denny’s, or the crushingly poetic treadmill in the hotel basement. Alone.
A moment of silence between us, then another chuckle from the front seat. “What’s funny?” from the back. I told her of the foggy parking lots, and the low points between working with incredibly creative and intelligent people by day, and singing her to sleep over the phone at night. Usually from a parking lot like the one we were sitting in at the time. And I told her about my vision of an app that would just find our stuff already, and my hope that it might open up more possibility for adventure.
“You have to do it, Daddy.”
Now, a couple of years after getting serious and a lot of inner conversation with all my alter-egos (Who the F are you to think you can do this, for one), GoBeMap is ready to make an impact on the world. I’ve spoken with a lot of people, made some business decisions (it’s hard not to label them good or bad), hired an incredible design team at Weezlabs and developers at Guarana Technologies, and now GoBeMap is live and available on The App Store. Woot!
A lot of folks have asked about how it all happens (fast and slow), how the business will make money (free to you, no banner ads, so far), how do I know what to do next (do I have that deer look?). Some are just hungry for their next trip so they can use it. My intention here is to share the inner and outer journey of building this business, and do what GoBeMap intends to do – connect you with awesome places, share reviews, give tips for maintaining our health when we’re away from home, and pass on some great deals when we find them. We always want your feedback, including just what you’d like GoBeMap to do for you, and we plan to iterate early and often, so please let us know your thoughts.
I’m having the time of my life building this. I hope it’ll help you have the time of your life, too.
GoBeAwesome! And I'll see you out there.
Next time: When the fire got lit. Or something better ;-)