Thoos (of Boulder) is a new social networking site dedicated to outdoor athletes. Currently, the list of sports includes climbing, cycling, fishing, hiking, paddling, paragliding, running, skiing, and surfing (ocean, not web). Thoos bills itself as “your social guide to adventure.”
I spent a bit of time playing around on Thoos. I started with one of the user profiles to get a sense of the data that the site manages. Members can track their fastest times, post comments on specific topics, find and connect with “friends” with similar interests, add photos, and more. It even has a 43Things-like goal tracker specific to these sports, and real time data feeds for things such as river conditions and (soon) current ski conditions.
Thoos does a good job of staying extremely focused on a niche. It’s not trying to be MySpace or one of the other countless social networking sites – rather it’s trying to do a better job for outdoor athletes by offering features that are specific to their needs. I like using these vertical social networking sites more than the generic ones because the people you find online can actually turn into acquaintances (or at least penpals) more easily. The only people who use sites like these are those who are fanatical about the topic of the site. This, in turn, tends to lead to a more useful experience as well as a more focused audience for delivering advertising and other highly specialized content.
I recently emailed with founder Sean Hudson to find out more about Thoos. Sean told me that the site just launched in beta a few weeks ago. Thoos is self-funded, or as Sean described it: “Non-funded would be a better description.” Sean told me that they’ve built the site at night and between raising kids and day jobs. Clearly, the site was born from a personal passion for outdoor sports. So far that passion has led to a community of over 4,000 members.
Sean confirmed that Thoos will remain free and is primarily going after advertising revenue. In fact, Thoos has already built an advertising engine of their own so that they can provide very specialized local advertising in the future. Thoos may also add premium services in the future.
Sean hopes to see Thoos turn into his full time job in the future, but for now he continues to hold down a day job. The company is not currently seeking any funding and does not plan to raise money in the short term.
“As one of my initial personal goals, I wanted to see how little money I could actually spend and still launch a successful new venture. Now that we have launched, we intend to use future revenues directly on new development and promotion,” said Sean.
Ah, bootstrapping. It can work. I built my first company with just $100.00 and no outside investment. You can do it Sean!