The Company Has FINALLY Launched!

For months now, I’ve been promising you guys an update on my new company and what I’ve been doing since I quit my job in July. As it turns out, starting a company is not some seamless process whereby you set dates for launches and things just go really smoothly and you do everything exactly on time. Who would have thought? However, I am proud to announce that our company launch is this weekend, November 22-23, at the Route 66 Marathon Expo! FINALLY!

ramblen

Introducing…Ramblen!

On July 15, my business partner, Natalie Cagle, and I launched a company called Ramblen.  Ramblen is an online resource that provides health and fitness information for travelers. Namely, if you are traveling to a new city and you want to know the best places to go for a run or bike ride, eat a healthy meal, join a group run, rent a bike, etc., Ramblen will tell you. Unlike other review sites that provide a huge number of user reviews – some of which are good and some of which are bad – Ramblen aims solely to provide good reviews from a trusted group of health and fitness enthusiasts. This way, you don’t have to spend your time figuring out all the places not to go – we’re just telling you where you should go.

The site is not meant to be an exhaustive listing of every possible health and fitness resource in a given city. We’re trying to pick the best places for travelers who are new to an area, and those places are not always the same as the best places for locals. I know that when I’m in a new place, the most frustrating thing for me is when I can’t figure out directions to a place because I don’t have an exact GPS address. When I’m at home in Columbia, I can get to a random running route that I love, but how can you expect a traveler to navigate to the same place without an address and follow a complex route without getting lost? We also took into account things like public transportation and the ease with which a traveler can get to a restaurant or store, park there, etc.

People who are dedicated enough to maintain their healthy lifestyles while they are traveling are probably the type of people that travel a lot. Think about it – if you spend one week a year on vacation and you miss a few runs and eat a bunch of crap, it’s not that big of a deal. But if you travel for work every week, like I used to, it’s not an option to skip workouts on trips and always eat junk food all the time. We also figured that people who travel a lot don’t have the time to spend looking on a whole bunch of websites to figure out where to cycle, where to get dinner, where to buy the pack of Gu they forgot, etc. That’s why we’re getting rid of the bad reviews and only promoting the good ones – we’ll save you time both by consolidating all of the information in one place and by only listing the information you actually need.

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Business traveler kitteh needs to work out.

Ok, so how did Ramblen get started?

Back in April, I got a call from Natalie Cagle, who I have worked with off and on through various projects.  She is a reader of this blog and contacted me to pitch the concept behind Ramblen. I told her I thought it would be very useful since I had traveled a lot for my job and races and constantly found myself at a loss for where to run or grab a healthy meal. She asked if I would be willing to help her with the project and I said that I definitely would. Then she told me the catch – she needed me to work on it full time. She has four kids, and in order to generate enough content for the website to launch, the company needed someone to travel to all of these different cities, do the research, and write the reviews. Since I am a writer, love to travel, and I have no actual responsibilities besides making AJ’s lunch every day, she thought I would be perfect for the job.

Naturally, I was floored. It’s not every day that someone calls you completely out of the blue and asks you to quit your job and become co-founder of a company. But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I do love to travel. I love to run. I do not love to eat healthy, but it probably wouldn’t hurt if I started. And she’s right – I don’t have a whole lot of responsibilities outside of making AJ’s lunch and making sure my mortgage gets paid on time. She said that she already had an investor lined up who was willing to guarantee my salary for a year, so I would still have income. Ultimately, I decided that it’s not very often in life that you get offered your dream job and a chance to really make your own path, so I decided to take her up on the offer.

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At the Falls Road Running Store in Baltimore on one of my early trips.

We actually had never met in person at this point, so before I quit my job, I flew out to Tulsa (where she lives) and we had a brainstorming session. We hit it off right away and it was easy to see that we had similar goals, vision, and priorities for where the company could go in the future.  We started to pull the pieces together – lawyers, operating agreements, spreadsheets, projections, designers, developers, and the list goes on – and by mid July, I was ready to quit my job and start the new adventure.

I pretty much hit the ground running, minus the fact that I had a stress fracture. From mid-July through the first week of October, I spent almost every week in a new city between doing reviews, going to conferences, and going to meetings with designers and developers. I visited Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Omaha, Houston, and more – sometimes home for just 24 or 48 hours between trips, which AJ obviously appreciated. I got really good at packing and unpacking, navigating airport security, downloading travel apps, and deciphering vegan menus.

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First things first – figure out what all of these ingredients are.

We’re a startup company, so while this job might sound glamorous, it’s mostly not. If you envision me flying first class, staying at the Ritz, and driving my Audi rental car around to different places to review, you’ve got it way wrong. We’re on a super tight budget, so I’m taking the earliest (and latest) flights to save money, staying with incredibly gracious friends who have let me invade their floors, futons, guest rooms, etc., and borrowing cars or hoofing it and taking the subway when I can. I love seeing new cities – especially now that I am healthy enough to actually run in them – but this job is not for the faint of heart. As it turns out, your dream job is still a job – who would have thought?

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My job is to go hiking in places like the Fontanelle Forest. It’s hard, you guys. Actually, the hard part is taking selfies. I suck at those.

That being said, I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything. In addition to the obvious benefits like making my own schedule (and therefore going to yoga classes or running whenever I damn well please), it’s really freeing to have so much control over your own success or failure. The failure part is terrifying, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt that how hard I work will directly determine where my career goes. In any corporate job, your performance is important, but office politics and a whole bunch of other factors matter just as much or more depending on the environment. It’s nice being able to focus on just developing a quality product that people can use.

So, I hope you will support us in this endeavor and help spread the word! We’d love to hear what cities you’d like to see on the site and what suggestions you have. We’re launching the beta version right now, so there is a lot that will change in the coming months, and your suggestions will help mold the direction that we go in the future!

If you love me at all, please…

Check out our website!

Like us on Facebook!

Follow @ramblen on Twitter

Follow @ramblenllc on Instagram (I also use this as my own Instagram, so there are a lot of pictures of beer.)

We’ll also be at the Route 66 Marathon expo on Friday from 11 am – 6 pm and Saturday from 10 am- 6pm! Stop by and see us for a chance to win one of our awesome giveaways!

We are dying to hear your suggestions!  What cities do you want to see us cover? How can we make our site better? What other types of health and fitness resources are you looking for when you travel? Would you like to get involved and help us build our content and business?

 

70 thoughts on “The Company Has FINALLY Launched!

  1. Oh my gosh. How awesome and amazing! :)
    If you, say, ever decide to go internation and visit Calgary, I have a couch you can crash on :)

    1. trex

      Thanks so much! I’m sure we’ll go international eventually :)

  2. Blanks

    Wow!! Congratulations! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and this actually makes me feel very happy for you even though I’ve never met you, haha! It sounds like a very promising business! Best of luck and success!!

    1. trex

      Aww, thank you so much! That means a lot. I really appreciate your support!

  3. Ashley S.

    Seattle!! :D

    I think think the concept is very cool! Really excited for you!

    1. trex

      We are working on Seattle right now!

  4. This sounds absolutely amazing — well done! (and please add Orlando to your list — that’s where I live and even though I’ve been here forever, I’m always looking for new and fun places to work out!)

    1. trex

      That is a great suggestion, Katy! I will definitely add that to the list. I need to get back down to Florida eventually :)

  5. Dan-O

    Good luck with your new venture/adventure! We have a guest room if you make it to Dayton. Trails here are phenomenal and the whole area is very bike friendly.

    1. trex

      Thanks so much, Dan! I haven’t made it to Ohio yet, but I will definitely let you know when I do!

  6. AWESOME! Very excited for you – can’t wait to read more about it.

    1. trex

      Thanks, Michael :)

  7. Karen

    Awesome idea! Can’t wait to see what you put together on Denver and if you are taking requests Monroe LA ( home of those duck people). My company has their HQ there so I find myself there a few times a year!

    1. trex

      Thanks, Karen! Let me know what you think about our Denver recommendations! We are thinking about adding on some cities in Louisiana, so that is the perfect suggestion.

  8. Amy

    This is the best idea ever! Congrats on this new opportunity and as a fellow runner/traveler, I totally see the need for this. Woot! I will support in whatever way I can :)

    1. trex

      Thank you so much, Amy! I am so glad you like the idea!

  9. This is so cool! Congrats! Awesome concept, I just went through your DC page and not only do you have all my favorite trails you even have my running store listed. I just started working at the Pacers by my apartment (<10hrs a week) and they are awesome.

    Cities… Rochester NY is my hometown and there are some stellar trails up there. Syracuse and Buffalo also get a decent amount of traffic from business folks.

    Thus far I think your site is perfectly minimalist. There is no wading through anything to get the information you need.

    On the get involved portion… I would absolutely LOVE to contribute and help. I think this concept is awesome. Shoot me an email if you are serious about finding people to join. I am in IT so I promise I am quite clever. I love what I do but I have been waiting for something to light my passion and this may just be the perfect match.

    1. trex

      Megan, that makes me SO happy to hear. It’s nerve wracking trying to pick the best places and I’m always worried I will get them wrong. I did take two separate trips to DC to make sure I covered the whole metro area, which definitely helped :) And I bought my first pair of running shoes ever at the Pacers in Alexandria back when I lived in DC!

      Thanks for the city suggestions! I will not be traveling to upstate New York in the winter, but I’ll add those to the list for spring :)

      We would love to have your help, Megan! We are going to slowly be ramping up in the coming months and I will definitely contact you. We are on the lookout for good writers and I really enjoy your blog!

  10. Kara

    Oh my gosh I love this! And I love that you got my home town of Boulder in there for the beta version :D

    I’d love to see suggestions for Los Angeles.

    1. trex

      Thank you so much, Kara! We’ve gotten a few requests for Los Angeles, so I will have to add that to my list :) What did you think of Boulder’s reviews and recommendations?

  11. Eric

    This sounds awesome! The opportunity of striking out on a new venture sounds incredible, in and of itself! Are running clubs part of the “list” of things you look into in the cities you check out?

    1. trex

      Thanks so much, Eric! Running clubs are part of the list of things we look into sort of by proxy – we tend to find running and cycling groups associated with local running stores (which most of them are) and we write about those group runs. In some cities, like Colorado Springs, where there is a huge group of running clubs, we try to find that information as well. The information can usually be found by going to the “Merchants” page and clicking on the various stores, but we might need to think of a way to recategorize that.

  12. This is awesome! I’m a writer in Boston and loved your suggestions and reviews for my own city – I haven’t even heard of these restaurants! I am happy to help – I am a traveler as well, originally from Los Angeles (not yet included on your site) and have trips planned to Phoenix, Austin, and North Carolina in the coming months.

    1. trex

      Becky, I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to hear you say that! I actually have a trip planned to Phoenix in February so I will be adding that to the site. I am sure we could use your help so I will be in touch!! Thank you so much!

      1. I’ll be in Phoenix in February as well! Any chance you’re headed there the weekend of the 21st? I’m headed to the Ragnar Relay Del Sol.

        1. trex

          No :( I’m going the end of January/beginning of February. Doing research in Phoenix and then running the Sedona Marathon! I’ll be in Japan for the Tokyo Marathon on the 21st.

          1. I live in Phoenix. If you need any info, let me know. I’m still deciding between Sedona and Lost Dutchman Marathons.

          2. trex

            That would be great, Pat! I am headed out to Phoenix at the end of January, so I will shoot you an email!

          3. Fun! I hear Sedona is beautiful! I’ll find you at a different race :)

  13. What a great idea! Congratulations on the launch of your new baby. What about a race calendar for each city? I know that when I’ve travelled for work, I’ve searched for a local 5k or something to do on the weekend when I don’t have to be at a conference or meeting. And I nearly always have my shoes and shorts with me anyway. Perhaps event organisers could pay a very small fee to list their events, or offer discounts to signups through Ramblen.

    Local running clubs are a great idea too – this served me very well in Tokyo and I had a fun track workout with a mostly English-speaking expat running group. It’s a little weird to hunt these things down online and email them, but runners everywhere are the most welcoming, generous, friendly bunch you’ll ever meet.

    1. trex

      Those are great ideas, Grace! We have the race calendar concept in the pipeline, but haven’t quite gotten there yet. As for the local running clubs – we talk a bit about local group runs and group rides on the different store pages, but we would like to expand to include the groups too! That’s a great idea!

      1. I love the idea of a race calendar, too. I would use that even for personal travel (as opposed for business purposes).

        1. trex

          Great suggestion! We’ve had a few requests for that so I think it’s definitely something we will implement.

  14. carol

    What a great site!! Wish I had it last year when I went to boulder. Congrats!

    1. trex

      Thanks, Carol! Boulder is an awesome city!

  15. Kendra

    Danielle, I think this is an awesome idea – LOVE it. I would love to see Canadian cities on there at some point, my spare room is available at any time. Also I am really hoping that there is an app in the future. I also checked out the website and love it so far, look forward to hopefully using it in the future.

    1. trex

      We’re getting a lot of requests for Canadian cities, so you might get your wish! We are definitely planning on an app in the future, but we have to do some more fundraising first! Turns out that developing those are expensive :)

  16. Hey! I’m running the Route 66 in Tulsa this weekend! I’m going to come find you and say hi! You will have no idea who I am, but that’s okay. Woo! Tulsa!

    1. trex

      Awesome! Just introduce yourself! Can’t wait to meet you :)

  17. Ann

    This is AWESOME!!! Congrats on getting this off the ground. :)

    I’ve of course got to suggest St Louis, but would also love to see San Francisco suggestions as I’ll be out there for a couple weeks next fall.

    Gah! Can’t wait to see what other amazing things you have in store!!

    1. trex

      Great suggestions, Ann! I would love to explore both of those cities :)

  18. Super awesome!

    1. trex

      Thanks, Emmie! Hopefully you’ll be able to give me some good tips if I ever make it up to Kentucky!

  19. Sarah

    We just got home (to California) from a 10-day roadtrip around the Desert Southwest (stops in Las Vegas area, Flagstaff, St. George). We ran everyday and searched out healthy eating (restaurants, natural foods stores). Your site will be a tremendous resource to us and, I’m sure, so many others. By the way, it is amazing some of the beautiful places to run within minutes of Vegas (Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead NRA). Congratulations and good luck on your new venture… And thank you!

    1. trex

      I’ve never been to Vegas, but I have to head out there for a race at some point. I bet it is absolutely beautiful, so I’m looking forward to doing the research! I am so glad you see value in the site – I hope it will help you in your travels in the future!

  20. I don’t travel at all – hate it… but I’m off to like & follow all your sites…. because I don’t hate you at all :)

    1. trex

      Well that is one of the nicest compliments I have received in a long time. Thank you!

  21. Of course, I’d love to see my local metro area featured – Minneapolis. I live in the South West Metro, which has a great bike trail system that you can ride for some 20+ miles in to downtown Minneapolis / Lake Calhoun. And of course, I’m partial to my local community center that offers free, walk in track access and daily drop in fitness classes for about $5 each… but that’s just me. :-) I’d offer my spare bedroom and bathroom… but you’d have to deal with driving into the city if you really wanted to experience Minneapolis, which is about 30-45 minutes away… so that’s the only trade off for free lodging. OH, and also, you’d want to come when we’re not having sub zero temps, so maybe next June?? LOL!

    1. trex

      I would love to come to Minneapolis! I’ve heard so many great things about the city in terms of their health and fitness initiatives. That being said…I think I’ll wait until spring or summer, like you recommended :)

  22. Nancy

    I am thrilled for you! LOVE LOVE LOVE this concept! Can’t wait to read more! And if you ever need a place to flop in St Louis, let me know.

    1. trex

      Thanks, Nancy! We are getting some request from St. Louis so hopefully I’ll be headed out that way soon!

  23. OK, now that I had the chance to think about it on my morning run and actually fully read your post and check out the site, I have a few thoughts:

    - Earlier this year I went to San Diego (OK, Hotel Del Coronado) for a ‘blog trip’ while in the middle of a long bunch of trips for my real job. I really didn’t have the time, but it was important to me to have my running courses all set out. So I spent time looking at maps online and also running routes on Coronado, but it was all guesswork.

    I arrived, got into the hotel, and then just grabbed a water bottle and went out on what seemed like a good route down the Silver Strand (it turned out to be awesome – but there were plenty of caveats). The early mornings were more of a trick, because I had no idea what the area was like in terms of traffic or safety.

    - For most of the first 9 months this year I was back-n-forth between Corning and Lexington Kentucky (Harrodsburg, actually). Aside from being a schedule that totally sucked since I actually like my wife and kids, it meant figuring out a long-term rating and running plan.

    Nutrition was one thing – I like to get rooms with a mini-fridge and just go to the grocery store for supplies. That puts me in control.

    But running was another – I learned two things: your hotel choice matters, and be careful who you ask about where to go for an evening run!

    In terms of hotels, I found one that had great access to a very loopy neighborhood (places near Lexington like to lay out house developments like horse race tracks), and I didn’t need to go on any busy roads. A slightly nicer hotel with better wireless I tried for one week required me to cross a 6-lane road to get to a decent running neighborhood … and it was in a pretty sketchy area. If I am nervous … not good. They also ‘ate’ one of my running gloves – I had them in the morning, and when I got back to the hotel that night one was missing … I assume it got eaten by the vacuum and housekeeping didn’t report it.

    My schedule was such that I was doing ‘doubles’ – run in the morning and use the hotel gym/elliptical/pool at night. But when spring arrived I wanted to be outdoors, and on trails. So I asked – and was told there was a ‘long’ running course at a local Shaker Village. Great, but ‘long’ turned out to be 3 miles. Ugh. Fortunately I was able to find other horse paths and grassy trails to lengthen it to 5 or 7 miles. Still – absolutely gorgeous, and worth working to lengthen the distance.

    When I think of Ramblen, I think more of the Coronado trip – helping out with routes around that area, safety, hotel proximity and so on.

    But thinking about how much better my experience was being in a hotel with good running access reminded me of priorities – the hotel wasn’t as nice, temperature control varied by room, WiFi had issues until they finally sorted them in late spring, and others used that hotel as ‘last choice’. But for me – it was my FIRST choice.

    Which is a long winded (as usual) way of saying I totally see the value prop for your site!

    1. trex

      Thanks so much for your feedback and the blog post, Michael. I think we definitely need to add maps to the site, and hopefully that will help people pick out hotels near running routes and healthy food choices. That suggestion makes me think of Houston specifically, because ALL of the trails and the healthy restaurants are on the west side of the city, but you’d have no way of knowing that if you didn’t live there.

  24. Clever concept, and I’m liking the intuitive, streamlined website… look forward to preach the Ramblen gospel among fellow traveling runners! I moved to West L.A. 6 months ago after living and running in the Bay Area for almost two decades, so happy to provide feedback on either Northern or Southern California. In fact I’ve detailed several East Bay running routes on my blog, if that would aid your efforts. Best of luck with the new business venture!

    1. trex

      Woo hoo!!! Thank you so much! I look forward to you preaching the gospel as well :) We are getting a lot of requests for California (L.A. specifically) so I’m sure it won’t be long before we’re out that way!

  25. Amiee

    Nice concept, I travel a lot and cannot find places to run (ran once in a mall until they kicked me out) so it is treadmills or grow portly. I also travel a lot to Houston and I used to live there so I put you through the test! nice picks, Terry Hershey is my old stomping grounds – and you could run forever out there into Bush park! Nice choices I’m going to check out the food next time I’m there (which oddly enough is Monday). Please do Seattle at some point because the runs are pretty hard since there are so many hills and stoplights! I’m looking forward to more…

    1. trex

      Thank you so much, Amiee! I am so glad we passed the Houston test. Since I do all the reviews, it is super stressful to me when someone who actually lives in the city or travels there regularly looks over my work, so I am thrilled that you agree with my reviews! I hope you’ll check out the food – there are a lot of great options, although most of them are on the west side. We actually have Seattle as one of the next cities that we will be posting on, so check back soon!

  26. Mary Noonan

    What a wonderful idea! I am always trying to find places to run as well as reviews that aren’t skewed by robo critics. When you make it to the smaller cities let me know- would love to show you around upstate NY ( Albany) Congratulations!

    1. trex

      Thank you so much, Mary! I will definitely let you know. We are trying to mix it up and incorporate both smaller and larger cities. I need to come to NY for a marathon soon anyway!

  27. Jaime

    MAZEL TOV, DANIELLE! Just stalked your site for Baltimore – I was shocked what I didn’t know about my own city! Can your next company be something that makes me actually get off the couch and actually explore these places?

    1. trex

      Oooh I’m glad I found you some new places to run! They are pretty cool, so definitely check them out now that you’re a supreme runner :)

  28. Rob Runs

    I don’t travel much but I so need this! Every time I go to a city I end up just sweating on a hotel treadmill instead of getting up the nerve to find places. Or when I go back home to Philly, since I didn’t run when I lived there. Or when I just get antsy around my current home of DC. I used the website from my phone and it works great mobile-ly too!

    1. trex

      This makes me SO happy to hear! I used to do the exact same thing when I traveled – just jump on the hotel treadmill or run around the parking lot or nearby, and it’s so silly when there are so many great places to run! I’m so glad you’re finding the site useful. DC and Philly both have a ton of great resources!

  29. Randa

    Congratulations on your launch! This sounds like a great idea! I would love to help out in any way that I can!

    1. trex

      Thank you so much, Randa!

  30. Excellent work, a lot of highly valid suggestions! I appreciate you writing this blog post and the rest of your web site is outstanding!

    1. trex

      Thank you! I’m so glad you like it.

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