A new mobile application that will allow landowners to lease their properties for outdoor recreation is currently accepting participants for a beta test.
Officials at "Bluebirding" are looking for 50 to 100 participants from anywhere in the nation to test the application. CEO Peyton Ballard says he's encouraging West Virginians to partake.
The test will allow users to download the app, create a profile, and begin searching for activities or listing their properties. Once the app is launched, it will be made available directly to consumers.
“Once that’s complete, it’s a little bit of an application process to get listed in the app store, but we’re at a point where we’ll be able to do that,” Ballard says. “As soon as we’re in the app store, the floodgates open.”
West Virginians who are interested in taking part in the test may contact Ballard via LinkedIn, and once they’re accepted, they will receive instructions on how to download the app. The beta test is ongoing, and there is no set end date—just until enough people participate.
Ballard says the app’s primary audience is businesses and private landowners who have property they may want to lease for outdoor activities, such as hunting, camping, fishing, and birdwatching, though farming will eventually be an option as well.
“People who own property may do those things if they knew of the opportunity, and there are so many private landowners who are looking for ways to utilize their property in agriculture that we’re not going to limit ourselves from getting those folks on board, too,” Ballard says.
With a booming outdoor sector, Ballard says West Virginia’s outdoor economy will benefit greatly from the application. “I really feel like Bluebirding as a technology is so valuable for the outdoor community in West Virginia,” he says.
Chief Strategy Officer Max Gottlieb says Bluebirding can amplify the financial impact of the tourism economy in West Virginia.
“The economic impact of tourism doesn’t just have to rely on lodging, leasing, and restaurant sectors,” Gottlieb says.
“Working together, we can broaden the economic roster of businesses to capitalize on the wild and wonderful outdoors here in the state. By building and integrating tech, finance, and manufacturing businesses focused on the outdoor economy, we can raise a tide to lift all boats.”
Through its state-of-art design and development, Bluebirding provides a seamless platform to list and book properties for recreation activities, according to founder and CTO Brandon Fitzwater.
“Bluebirding is committed to helping give more West Virginians the chance to participate in the outdoor economic boom we are seeing in the Mountain State,” Fitzwater says.
In addition to private landowners, state parks and other publicly owned entities that do not have a booking system or an ability to market themselves in an easy-to-use platform could also benefit from utilizing Bluebirding, says Ballard.
“Bluebirding is sort of unfolding a lot at the moment, but there are a lot of possibilities,” Ballard says. “As we make a plan and a run at commercialization, that could be really beneficial to the outdoor economy here in West Virginia.”
A business-to-business platform launched from West Virginia, the Bluebirding team is looking to license the technology, and while that could mean Bluebirding is eventually bought by a company outside West Virginia, the app itself will still be available everywhere, not just in the state.
Ballard is also the founder and CEO of Ballard Consulting Group, a management consulting company focusing on building capacity for public and private entities, and is based out of Charleston, West Virginia. Through his projects, including Bluebirding, Ballard is building a coalition of outdoor industry support.
“My motive is to reimagine how we build capacity for both public and private organizations in West Virginia,” he says. “My ambition is to take the projects that I’m interested in and the things I’m working on to help reimagine that we can build capacity with organizations and not have to do things exactly the same way that we’ve done them to date.”