Website removes barriers to identifying routes, finding amenities and enjoying points of interest
A new website launched by a Thomas College student is modernizing snowmobile trip planning for resident and out-of-state riders. SledTRX.com aims to advance the economic impact of a legacy outdoor recreation industry and attract new riders by removing barriers to identifying routes, finding amenities, and enjoying points of interest.
A $600 million industry in Maine, snowmobiling still relies on traditional mail distribution of paper maps to interested riders. Each of Maine’s approximately 280 volunteer-based clubs maintain their own trails, requiring riders to contact multiple clubs to plan a trip. Trail maps may be uploaded to a club’s website, available via mail for a small fee, or simply posted at the trailhead. The inconsistent, time-consuming process can deter even veteran resident riders like Jake Warn, of Winslow, who saw an opportunity to simplify trip-planning and make Maine’s snowmobile trails more attractive to resident and non-resident riders.
“I’d spend six hours planning a trip to a new region. It’s really important to support snowmobile clubs all over Maine, and I wanted to make it easier for veteran and first-time riders to explore new areas across our state,” explains Jake Warn, founder of SledTRX.com. “Plus, an online presence helps snowmobile clubs expand their membership and seasonal businesses can connect directly with a large customer base.”
A junior at Thomas College, in Waterville, Warn was inspired by fellow student entrepreneur Dylan Veilleux, who built Tree Free Heat. With a passion for snowmobiling but little technical expertise, Warn connected with Mike Duguay, executive director of the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation, at Thomas College, who encouraged him to enroll in a free Tortoise Labs course to learn how to turn his idea into a business. Warn enrolled in July 2020, and launched SledTRX.com in December. As part of the course, Warn conducted consumer research; he found that industry experts and longtime riders shared his challenge of gathering accurate trail information, and that snowmobile clubs and related businesses would derive significant value from one statewide consolidated online trail map.
“The snowmobile community is in need of an innovative change,” explains John Raymond, president of the Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile & Crosscountry Ski Club in Millinocket. “Snowmobiling has such a big impact on our communities, and it has needed something like this to help preserve this seasonal pastime.”
According to the Maine Snowmobile Association, nearly 30 percent of Maine’s 85,000 registered snowmobiles belong to non-resident riders, who contribute a significant portion of the $210 million in direct spending that supports over 3,000 jobs in Maine. By combining 10,000 miles of trails with amenities and points of interest in an easy-to-use website, SledTRX.com positions the industry to attract additional out-of-state riders and expand their economic impact across Maine as they explore new regions.