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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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3 former students design app for planning hunting, fishing trips

Photo by Leah Kappil

Sportsman Exchange, a new app developed by a team of Aggies, connects users with hunting providers across the country in order to digitize the planning of hunting and fishing trips.

During Fourth of July weekend last summer, three former students with a passion for hunting and fishing brainstormed and planned a brand new app to simplify the archaic industry and build community in the process.
Class of 2013 Charles “CJ” Leazer, Class of 2009 Zachary Trant and Class of 1995 Joe Abels founded the “Sportsman Exchange” app with a goal of simplifying the logistics of hunting and fishing trips. The app connects people wanting to book a hunting or fishing excursion directly to providers and businesses in different parts of the country. The business partners set up their own profile on the application including a description of their business, the types of animals or fish offered for hunting and the option to alter the offered game as seasons change.
Leazer and Trant became friends during their time at A&M and both have jobs in Houston. Abels, who used to live next door to Trant, currently works as a veterinarian.
 After studying economics and philosophy at Texas A&M, Leazer attended graduate school in North Carolina and hoped to find friends to hunt with when he left Texas. When he discovered the process of finding people to hunt with him was more difficult than expected, the idea of Sportsman Exchange was sparked.
“In the hunting industry, a lot of times business is done by word of mouth, and you need to know people in order to get in,” Leazer said. “So during my tenure in North Carolina, I was unable to make the necessary connections in order to find a place to hunt. This was the beginning of the inception of Sportsman Exchange.”
Trant, who studied agricultural leadership and development at A&M, said because the hunting and fishing industry relies heavily on word of mouth, prospective outdoorsmen can be skeptical. Sportsman Exchange aims to give users the opportunity to make a more educated decision on a hunting spot.
“We wanted to build a consumer-driven application,” Trant said. “We built an app for hunting and fishing that everyone can use because it’s just like shopping on — you’re going through and reading ratings and reviews so you can get comfortable with an operation and what they do … You can understand everything about the experience you’re about to have without a pressure to buy — you can self educate.”
Leazer, Trant and Abels planned and designed Sportsman Exchange for four to five months, they started development in December and publically launched the application mid-March. So far, the number of total downloads is between 1,000 and 2,000, according to Trant.
In the hunting and fishing world, Trant said, booking a trip can become over-complicated because it has to be done manually by mailing checks and liability waivers to the provider, a process which can take several weeks. Trant said Sportsman Exchange digitizes the industry to simplify the process.
“We’ve actually built a whole business back in for hunting and fishing operations to be able to run their businesses more efficiently,” Trant said. “We’re digitizing all of their data, we’re digitizing all the documentation, we’re automating payments, we’re automating liability waiver compliances, we’re automating their calendar schedule … We’re really taking one of the most archaic types of businesses and we’re revolutionizing it through IT.”
Leazer said the name of the application encompasses a realm of hunting and fishing that has not been reached before.
“The name to me is actually pretty cool,” Leazer said. “‘Sportsman Exchange’ — we’re literally creating a marketplace that didn’t necessarily exist before this. All of the service providers were scattered about in different directories and other places online. Sportsman Exchange is bringing all of the service providers together for ease for the consumer to be able to search.”
Regarding the electronically based entity for the primitive market, Trant said the goal is to better adapt to the present day and age and future generations for years to come.
“I think for the industry as a whole, not only is it going to get more people involved in the hunting and fishing industry, it’s going to get more people outdoors; it’s going to restore that love for the outdoors because we’re getting it to a whole new generation of consumers,” Trant said. “I do believe that by digitizing this industry on one single platform, we’re going to improve the way these businesses run.”
Abels, who works as a veterinarian for ranchers, said the business was built with the ‘Aggie Honor Code’ in mind.
“Aggies don’t lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do and that’s going to pass on into their business, it already has passed on in their business,” Abels said. “So you have no problem connecting clients with ranchers, or clients with fishing captains, you’re going to have a business built on faith and built on respect and built on honor and trust.”
Trant said because of the A&M roots that started the idea for the app, Aggie values largely helped shape the culture behind its creation.
“The Aggie values really are instilled — we still have those today, all the way from CJ to myself to Joe,” Trant said. “That spirit has never left us. I will say that working with two Aggies throughout this process has been fantastic … We were all hand-shake mentality, and that’s how we run our business as well with our premier partners. When we make a deal with somebody, we hold to that with integrity.”
For more information on Sportsman Exchange, visit the Instagram account @sportsmanexchange or download the app from the app store.

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