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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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?