Douglas grads make final round of business start-up contest
September 17, 2013
Growing up racing through the Pine Nuts on their dirt bikes, Jonathan Lee and Nic Vandermade never could have imagined their childhood pursuits could lead to a potentially lucrative business endeavor.
The duo, long since graduated from Douglas High School and well into their professional careers, are finding out just how far an innovative idea can go.
Hotlap.co, their tech startup, is in the running to win $100,000 in a statewide business competition.
Hotlap.co utilizes GPS technology in smartphones and GPS units to track outdoor activities including motorcycles, mountain biking, cycling and essentially any activity that can be geographically tracked.
"It's an idea we'd been working on for about a year before we really got it going," Lee said. "We grew up around here, raced motocross our whole lives and have been best of friends the entire time.
"We were always trying to beat each other on the track, and we'd spend hours of prep every week, getting our equipment ready and we'd never know if it was enough and that frustrated us to no end."
Hotlap evolved out of the idea that racers of any discipline could more efficiently prepare for a race if they could visually track their performance and practice.
"We started developing a program that could break down and analyze your performance using GPS tracking and then use that information to improve.
"It would have a social aspect to it, where you could share your times and tracks with other racers and you could see how everyone else was doing. It would push everyone to get better by seeing what everyone else was doing."
Lee said their hope is that Hotlap.co, which is currently in the alpha testing phase for its mobile application software, would revolutionize racing competition.
"Our focus has been on trying to validate the project within the motorsports market," Lee said. "We've been spending a lot of time on market research, getting in touch with as many people in the business as we can to validate the idea that this is a problem people have and we can help solve it."
After finishing school and going on to work for established businesses and startups, both noticed the incredible advancements that GPS technology experienced. Lee began cycling regularly and while using an online service that tracked his performance the idea of developing something like this intrigued him.
He felt that they could take the idea even further than what is currently available to the public and give more reasons for the general public to want to be outside participating in activities.
Hotlap.co is not the first of its kind to offer a tracking service, but it will be the first one to incorporate many additional features not offered by the others. By utilizing the existing GPS technology in smartphones or GPS, Hotlap.co tracks performance as an individual recreates, trains or races. The information can then share and analyze both the individual's and the individual's equipment's performance on Hotlap.co, where they can compete for prestige, prizes and awards in global competitions regardless of location or schedule.
Participants would also receive discounts on the products needed to maintain training equipment when it is needed.
In January of this year, Lee and Vandermade entered a statewide competition, named Project Vesto, for a chance to win $100,000. Out of 232 total entrants, they became one of 12 finalists and are now in the public online voting stage to decide the winner.
Online voting goes through June 21, and can be found at ves.to/hotlap-co/.
"It's a Nevada business competition through the office of economic development for basically startup companies," Lee said. "The process was really cool. We ended up having to present our idea to a board of investors kind of like the 'Shark Tank' television program.
"Our idea was well-received and we're excited to be a part of the final round."
For more information about Hotlap.co and Project Vesto, visit http://hotlap.co.