Whether you are new to fishing and need help finding the best waters to start in, or are a seasoned angler and want to document your best catches, a Madison startup has created the platform to do it on.
Fishidy, launched in 2012 by Brian Jensen, is an online and mobile platform that serves as a map-based information feed for fishers to connect with each other on. Users can follow waterways, like lakes, rivers and oceans, and see where other users have fished and what their experiences there were like.
The startup’s main goal is to provide anglers with the best tips and information for them to have successful fishing trips. Jensen, who grew up in the Madison area and has fished for most of his life, thought of the idea for Fishidy after having a failed trip of his own.
“I went up to a lake in northern Minnesota and was really struggling with understanding where to fish,” Jensen said. “It was a horrible trip and that’s when I decided we could really make this a lot easier for anglers by providing this type of content and service that would help them effectively eliminate unproductive water and head straight to the action.”
Jensen began building Fishidy shortly after the trip, leaving a career in software at GeoDecisions, where he specialized in location-based information and mapping technology.
“I had a really good understanding of how location-based information could be utilized to solve any problem,” Jensen said.
Fishidy now has more than 900,000 users and expects to cross 1 million in the next couple months. With a premium membership option, the startup has found a way to monetize its offerings and is making nearly $1 million in annual revenue, Jensen said.
The platform offers maps and content for more than 30,000 popular inland lakes, data on thousands of miles of rivers, and has complete coastal coverage, from Maine to Washington state. Though most of Fishidy’s users are in the U.S., Jensen said they are increasingly adding more international users and data to the platform.
“People are searching online all the time for the best places to fish,” Jensen said. “Ninety percent of fish are found in 10 percent of water.”
The main features on the app are free, but their premium service allows users to access vetted data on the best fishing spots. Jensen said Fishidy works with researchers and other analysts to verify particular fishing areas, providing information about the characteristics of the habitat and how best to fish there. The premium service is $9.99 per month or $49.99 per year, and Jensen said about 3 to 6 percent of their users are on it.
Fishidy’s team of six mainly works remotely, but has plans to move into their own office space in Madison by the end of this year, and hire more software engineers as the company grows. They have raised about $1.8 million from Chicago-based venture capital firm Hyde Park Angels, Wisconsin Super Angel Fund, which is based in Milwaukee, and a handful of other angel investors.
Though Jensen said capital is limited in Madison, compared to other, bigger markets, he still sees a lot of potential for Fishidy’s growth in the college town.
“Madison is full of a lot of ideas,” he said. “It’s a good, growing, emerging market, and the community is really behind the idea of making it a true startup city.”