The Buccaneer Journey Part 1

Surfer holding phone

From our previous blog we have got to a stage where we have got our App concept:

Buccaneer is all about connecting you to the amazing locations we Surf, Sail, Kite, Ride, Climb and Paddle. Find new spots, create and join sessions, get messages, news and session alerts from locations, pro's and friends. Never miss an opportunity to get out there and do the things you love.

And we’ve got our vision:

To connect people to places with a great experience. Allowing like minded individuals to share their experiences and love for adventure. Providing accessibility to hard won local knowledge to expand access to sports and activities

  • Our users and partners are the most important asset we have; without you we have nothing, so it is really important that what we do adds value.
  • Every single user has a voice that's listened to - we depend on and evolve through suggestions and requests received every day.
  • Our planet, our wild places are our playground so we intend to look after it. We will do what we can to promote ethical sustainable living wherever possible.
  • We're all about transparency, honesty, integrity and fun. If we ever fall short please tell us. Our collective is going to grow almost exclusively from word of mouth, as people who try it are impressed enough to tell their friends, etc. If you believe in what we're doing and you like the product, please help continue this. 

So having got the idea of Buccaneer I wanted to share some of the journey of the concept while we wait for the developers to finish Version 1.

Although the actual idea was borne in 2014 . The journey starts for real in 2017 when I wanted to create something on a phone that I could play with and test the idea with actual users other than my friends.

As with many ideas this is where a level of complexity and frustration comes in to the story. I work in IT and thought it would be relatively easy to find a developer that would be willing to throw something together over a few weekends that I could take around with me, show to a few people prove the concept and then off we go.

The reality was very different. I’m not short on enthusiasm so I persuaded colleagues to join me down the pub and described what I was after. Given (to my knowledge) nothing like Buccaneer already exists it took a little while for people to get it, particularly if the developer I was speaking to didn’t take part in action / lifestyle sports.

After some discussion I was met with general approval that the idea was a good one but the general feeling from the developers was it was a big project and was going to take time and most likely, money!! It became clear I was not trying to create an app that did one beautiful thing. The application would comprise a number of sophisticated entities that coexisted in a frame-work to deliver something much more than just a one-time use novelty, but a utility through which desk driving, weekend warriors like myself could stay in touch with the action/adventure sport world in real time.

So first things first, could I sacrifice functionality to make the project doable as a freebee from a willing fellow enthusiast. Well, I could compromise a lot but was it enough to get the job done. It was at this point I reached the sad realization that it probably was not. Also what then? If I did manage to build something that proved the idea worked, how would I, could I move it forward?

So I parked the idea for a while and carried on treading the corporate mill, living for the few and far between weekend opportunities to get outside and thrash the local trails on my bike or catch the odd wave here or there, weather and opportunity permitting.

A few months later I was going to a gig in London with a group of friends I had been at school with. One of them was a longtime windsurfer, we had been on a few surf trips in Cornwall just after we left school so I couldn’t help but take the opportunity while we were traveling to the gig to give him the elevator pitch. (Clearly I still had an itch that needed to be scratched) My friend got the concept straight away and was very enthusiastic. I explained where it had come undone and he suggested the concept of crowd funding. I had considered crowd funding but I did not like the idea of the organized crowd funds I had read about. It seemed like a lot of hassle and I would have to give the idea away very publicly with no guarantee that someone wouldn’t just copy it.

My friend corrected my assumption. “No not one of those things, talk to your friends who you ride surf and climb with, I’m sure you know a few people who would be willing to throw a small amount of cash in with a view to potentially getting some thing off the ground at a later date”

Well he was right after a few weeks we had raised enough to create a simplified proof of concept and the Action Sports Collective known as Buccaneer Sessions was borne.

It kind of appealed to me to build an app based on a collective, Yes I had an overall vision of what I wanted the app to do but it would take much more than that to breathe life into it.

At its heart Buccaneer “crowd sources” information from people as they use the app. To a greater extent the more people use it the more useful it becomes kind of like a wiki to use a technical comparison or Wikipedia to most people. The concept being that there is a platform that people can add content to that is then shared publicly. In Buccaneer terms it’s the act of recording a “Session of activity (Surf, ride, climb, kite, paddle) at a given location/spot. This gives us the foundation of data, from a users perspective understanding what is happening and where.

The first functional challenge to overcome what would drive potential users to download and use the app before we had a groundswell of activity going on. We would need to capture this as the main focus of the concept application as well as the core Sessions functionality.

I felt strongly that the answer was already there. In the design of the application, Sessions would take place at a location. A user would favorite their chosen locations that they wanted to get push notifications from when Sessions were being booked or happening.

So could the actual location data be the initial enticement to develop our action sport community? We would need to tesat this concept.

For the next few weeks, months our small collective set about mapping location data. We reviewed tones of location guides looking at the core information that previous publishers had summarized to give the potential visitor / location user the information they needed to decision on where they were going to go.

The modern smart device (Phone) has some great tools already built in to give the user some great tools that up until recently would have precluded most people from getting out there.

1st a powerful user interface capability that gives the user a graphical screen, probably a map with a set of pins identifying the locations and what sports  /activities can take place there.

2nd a load of pre-built in tech to make life easier, most importantly a GPS application. A user can select a pin go to a location summary and then press another button to pass the location details to the GPS application on the phone and be taken there.

All the stress of finding a new place now solved. On top of this platform we can now layer in more information such as: What else is at the location, amenities, café, pub, shop, parking, are there any guidance notes, things to watch out for, dangers etc that people would find useful.

So now we have a plan, Buccaneer Session could start life as a location guide.

About the author

Mountain Biker, Surfer,

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