How We Make $100K/Month Booking Thousands Of Fishing Trips In The US

Published: April 22nd, 2023
Jonathan Newar
Captain Experiences
from Austin, TX, USA
started March 2020
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Jonathan Newar and I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Austin-based Captain Experiences, a platform for booking outdoor sports guides. Since launching in March 2020, we've quickly become the largest platform for booking fishing guides in the US, and are well on our way to unlocking the outdoors across all outdoor sports and geographies.

Since the company’s launch in 2020, Captain has partnered with over 1,200 quality, vetted guides while amassing over 47,000 hours booked outdoors.

We’re also most proud of the fact that after thousands of trips booked, we’ve maintained an average review score of 4.9 / 5 stars.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

The idea for Captain came from trying to book a fishing trip while working in my hometown of Houston, TX. When the company I was working for sold, I said, “Hey guys, we always talk about– let’s finally book that fishing trip.” The response was, “Great job Jonathan, you just nominated yourself to book us all a fishing trip.”

From there, I googled “Galveston fishing charters” and the idea hit me like a slap in the face. I thought, “If you can book an Airbnb or call an Uber, what’s wrong with fishing? Why am I spending days comparing charter prices, availability, boat specs, target species, etc., and calling guides?”

From there, I drove down to the docks in Galveston to meet with guides. To my surprise, they said, “We’d love to list on a site that made it easy for us to earn more trips and manage our calendars.”

From there, I drove the opposite way to Austin, TX, incorporated Captain Experiences, teamed up with my Co-Founder and our Head of Product, Attison Barnes, and launched Captain in March 2020.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

Today, adventurers can visit Captain Experiences to filter over 2,400 unique trips by location, group size, target species price, and more, including whether or not fish cleaning is included and whether or not the boat has a restroom on board.


We’ve come a long way since the early days, and our team led by Attison has put countless hours towards optimizing the site’s UI/UX through adventurer interviews, data analytics, and A/B testing.

Originally, the Captain Experiences website was incredibly cumbersome. We thought of everything possible that a user might need to book a fishing trip and threw it all on the page with little concern for usability.

Since then, we’ve relied on analytics to remove features that users don’t find useful based on the data. Over time, doing so led to a simplified and refined user experience.

We’ve acquired traffic through a variety of means including SEO, ads, social media, referrals, and more, and over time, we’ve seen direct traffic grow as we stay top of mind with our adventurers and grow our brand recognition.

Once that traffic hits the site, we ensure they have a fantastic end-to-end experience thanks to our filters and breadth of quality supply. We pride ourselves on our wide selection of trips, so whether you’re looking to catch redfish on the fly on a Galveston fishing trip, or looking for a Miami deep sea fishing trip, we’ve got you covered.

We pride ourselves on our culture and have a tight-knit group that loves to have fun and get on the water together.

Describe the process of launching the business.

We launched Captain in March of 2020 at the height of the pandemic, and I wouldn’t wish launching a consumer travel experiences platform at the height of the pandemic on my worst enemy.

We booked just 4 trips that month (all through our network of immediate friends and fishing buddies) but the pandemic proved to be a blessing in disguise as we used the downtime to further improve user experience. From there, adventurers used the time away from work to get outdoors, and we saw an explosion in interest throughout 2020-2021. The 5-star reviews started trickling in, and from there, we knew we had something special with Captain.

That interest has resulted in a long-term, widespread increase in outdoor participation, and Captain continues to serve as a fantastic resource for unlocking the outdoors.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Since Day 1, we’ve focused our marketing efforts on presenting Captain to high-intent adventurers looking to book fishing charters. SEO continues to be a major acquisition channel for us, and we’ve also expanded our social media, newsletter, and content marketing efforts.

Our entire marketing strategy focuses on the adventurer and making things personal. Whether we’re marketing Captain on social media or sending subscribers our weekly newsletter, we’re always looking to share exciting content we know our adventurers will enjoy, and we always make ourselves available to get in touch with. At Captain, we view ourselves as a hybrid between a seamless online booking platform and your local fly shop.

We bring existing adventurers back through an elevated brand and dedicated premium level of personal service. We call our repeat adventures “bucket listers” because they’re always looking to fish in a new destination targeting a new species to cross off their bucket list.

For example, Simon, one of our repeat bucket listers, has booked trips with Captain across Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Idaho, Arkansas, and Colorado, and has even taken helicopter flyout trips to Alaska’s backcountry chasing rainbow trout.


How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Captain is on the up! Every day essentially marks a new record in bookings, and word of mouth is spreading like wildfire. We’re also most proud of the fact that after thousands of trips booked, we’ve maintained an average review score of 4.9 / 5 stars.

This is all thanks to our small but mighty team of 10, tour adventurers and guides, and their unwavering support.

Looking ahead to 2023, our goal is to become top of mind platform for booking fishing guides in the U.S., on our way to becoming the leading platform across all outdoor sports and geographies.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Throughout Captain’s lifecycle, we’ve learned that people are the most important thing. We’ve been incredibly selective in our hiring processes and only hire those that are passionate about our mission to unlock the outdoors.

We pride ourselves on our culture and have a tight-knit group that loves to have fun and get on the water together.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use several tools to maintain Captain’s performance on an everyday basis. We’re big in Slack and rely on HubSpot as a CRM.

Our site is custom built which allows us full flexibility in managing and updating content, and we live by analytics tools like Google Analytics and GlassBox.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Zero to One by Peter Thiel is where every founder should start in my opinion as it's incredibly inspiring when deciding to jump in on a new business. No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings is my go-to on teambuilding, and Secrets of Sand Hill Road by Scott Kupor is a must-read before fundraising.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

My advice to entrepreneurs just starting is to stick with it and double your timelines. Nothing is as easy as it seems, and everything takes twice as long and twice as much effort as you think when jumping out of the gates.

Make sure you’re incredibly passionate about what you’re building because otherwise, the challenges along the way become incredibly daunting. If you’re passionate about what you’re building, the journey will be rewarding beyond belief and a ton of fun.

Where can we go to learn more?