Nutshell

Squirrel talk with Yonder

Kylie Hosken
Kylie Hosken

This month we talked with Justine Riegel, the marketing manager from Yonder, a company that is passionate about getting people outside and enjoying the outdoors.

Kylie: First things first, what is Yonder? How did it get started?

Justine: We came out of Green Mountain Digital, which was founded in 2009. They (the founders) first created Audubon Guides, and after those were successful, decided to make them digital. Next, they thought about how they could add a social component to that app, which is how NatureShare came about. Being outdoor enthusiasts ourselves for all activities, we got to thinking about how we could create a social network of all outdoor enthusiasts from all different backgrounds and activities. So, slightly long story, but that’s how Yonder came about!

Kylie: What do you love about working at Yonder? It looks like you have a great team that loves to have fun (see #YonderDanceOff video).

Justine: That video is us in a nutshell! We’re a group that’s passionate about getting people outside and to grow a love and a passion for being outdoors. What’s great about Yonder is getting to work with people who share the same values and love what they do. We do all sorts of outdoor activities together (paddle boarding, snowshoeing, etc.) so we love to play hard as well as work hard.

We’ve started expanding as a team, too! I’ve recently moved to Oregon, and we have a developer out in Colorado, as those two areas are really important to us and where a lot of our community is located. We’re excited to be able to connect with community out in those areas in person.

Kylie: How was the Yonder community grown over the years?

Justine: Well, the beta version only launched in July 2013 so it started with just friends and family and telling the surrounding community. We focused a lot on grassroots marketing, PR, and building a group of outdoor ambassadors who support what we’re doing. Now we have this awesome vibrant community sharing their adventures. The community is super positive overall; they love asking questions and getting involved.

Kylie: I know you’re all about inspiring people to get outside and be in the outdoors. What’s the most inspiring story or journey you’ve heard about from the Yonder community?

Justine: There’s one story that stands out in particular for me. One of our ambassadors (@kimmy) was browsing the app store for photography-based apps. She was really only sharing photos of her backyard, flowers, that sort of thing. As she started using the app more, she started asking questions like “how do I go hiking?” to the Yonder community. Mike (@MikeOffTheMap) and the community rallied around her to help her, telling her what gear she needed, and how to start hiking. That’s really what I love about Yonder: You get experts helping beginners to get outside. So Kimmy’s story was one that went from sharing photos in her backyard to being one of our ambassadors and attending one of our meetups. It’s all about people trying new things and new adventures.

Kylie: That’s an awesome story. Now more personally around you, what’s your favorite outdoor activity?

Justine: You know, I’m starting to get into paddleboarding. I don’t do it much, but I’m loving it. My main activity is hiking with my dog, or basically anything I can do with him. He’s my inspiration for getting outdoors; when he has fun, I have fun. He’s world famous on Yonder too.

Kylie: What’s been your favorite trip/place you’ve visited?

Justine: Let’s see, since I just moved, everything here is new. One recent adventure was this past weekend to the Oregon coast. Suislaw National Forest was just so beautiful. It’s this place where the forest meets the ocean, which you can’t find in many other places. I saw the second oldest tree in Oregon, which is 500 years old. Then there’s this beautiful coastline with tide pools. So you go from this amazing forest to the coast right there. It was a cool experience, and a place I hadn’t been before!

Kylie: What’s on the top on your bucket list, or your next place to visit?

Justine: One of things I’ve been wanting to do since we knew we were going to move is to get down to Crater Lake National Park; I’ve only heard amazing things about it. I’m also heading up to Alaska (one of our ambassadors is hosting a meetup there), and I’m so excited to just hike and camp there. So those are two trips I’m really excited about for this summer.

Kylie: Sounds awesome! What’s been your worst outdoor experience? Any funny stories?

Justine: Hmm. There was a hike last summer that we all went on after work and we were crossing this river, and I really didn’t want to get wet. I stepped on a rock and fell face first into the river. It was a total face-plant, which my coworkers thought was hysterical; I was not amused of course. You better believe there’s photographic evidence too.

Kylie: You can always depend on the people around you to capture those moments. Now finally, how do you feel about going to the bathroom in the outdoors. Some people love it, some people hate it. Where you do fall?

Justine: Haha, I definitely try to avoid it but some of our users love it. One of our users embraces it; her name is even mountainpooper. But me personally, it’s not one of my favorite things to do to be sure.

Kylie: What’s the dream for Yonder? What’s next?

Justine: The dream or the goal is to keep improving the product to make it so that more and more people can get outside. We want them to find what’s in their backyard, to explore what’s around them, try something new, something that you haven’t done before. Really we’d like to make a product that helps you do to that.

Kylie: Anything else you want to throw in? Anything else we should know?

Justine: Yeah, one cool thing is that we just updated the iOS app last Thursday, which includes a revamped destinations portion—we have 20,000 destinations in the USA and Canada. It’s a huge update and we’re really excited about it. Now people can really use it to figure out what trips they want to do, what’s around them, and discover more!

Kylie: That’s awesome! Can’t wait to check it out.

Download and check out the Yonder app!

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