Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding together leading a path to Success

Lisa Taylor    October 21, 2015


Appalachian Trail Image 2

Company Name: Outdoor Edutainment, LLC

Industry: Educational Gaming

Contacts: Kristin Peppel, Management, Design, Advocacy, Sales

Web References: Official Appalacian Trail Game SiteNew Appalachian Trail Game Receives Full Funding Through Kickstarter in 48 Hours!, Hike the Appalachian Trail in your living room with new game, Kickstarter Campaign, Appalachian Trail Conservancy,

Mark Hanf is a middle school teacher, an avid hiker and an Eagle Scout. One day while hiking the Appalachian Trail he happened upon a shelter that had been left in dissaray by some hikers before him. His boy scout training and subsequent love of hiking and the great outdoors had taught him to care for the environment and leave a camping site better than you found it, as if you weren’t there in fact (Leave No Trace). His annoyance of the situation got him thinking that not everyone knows or understands hiking etiquette and so the wheels began to churn and the idea of a board game began to emerge. Armed with a proposal he set off to visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who bought into the idea and provided a small grant to get a prototype built and for beta testing to occur…but then what?

The team connected with Kickstarter, one of the largest funding platforms for creative projects and the campaign planning began. Kickstarter was a perfect platform. It would allow them to accomplish two goals simultaneously. To crowdsource ideas for development and crowdfund production. They established a length for the campaign and milestones along the way, they offered opportunity for investment and a sounding board to collect new ideas to further develop the game and rewards for support. If you provided a good idea and it was used in the game then your name would appear on that card and get a free game. If you provided support of $20 or more, you received a free game. Rewards went all the way up to a $5,000 Hot Springs Hiking Adventure with AT world record holder Jennifer Pharr Davis. See all the levels here.

Beginning with a modest goal of raising $10,000, the campaign launched on July 17, 2014 and the first goal was fully funded within 48 hours! By the end of the campaign in Sept 2015, they had reached almost all their milestones. Backpack editions of the game were sold out and pre orders for the Thru-Hike Special Edition continued.

Stretch Goals

The campaign was supported through Facebook advertising and through partners who posted on FB, Instagram and Twitter with #LeaveNoTrace and #ProtectYourTrail. Partners also emailed their membership with a link to the Kickstarter site. In total 892 backers pledged support funding the project to almost $50,000. As the Kickstarter program closed, sales continue and they are almost at the $60,000 mark. 38% of backers came from Kickstarter and the balance of 62% came from direct marketing and social media efforts as well as some earned media. Ironically, the biggest boost to sales were the emails from partners. Thus supporting two well known theories of fishing where the fish are and engaging your supply chain as both have a greater propensity to participate based on their own similar preferences.

From a crowdsourcing perspective, some interesting new ideas emerged mostly around new scenarios, cards and questions. Plenty of feedback around a Big Foot scenario emerged so creators worked with one of their partners, Leave No Trace, to create a Big Foot card and custom game pieces available only to LNT members.


New partnerships bring added leverage and ideas. Recently forged partnerships with Broad Green Pictures and a range of other national non-profits to help promote best practices on the trail will bring opportunities to engage more like-minded backers and new game ideas and even new product ideas. Robert Redford’s recently released film “A walk in the Woods” embraces the same principles of the game and could open up even more doors for these game makers. And not to be overlooked, 5% of game sales are donated back to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for maintenance and protection of the Trail.

Robert Redford encourages everyone to learn LEAVE NO TRACE principles.


When determining audience for your crowdsourcing project, seek to engage partners, likeminded organizations and others with similar interests. Leveraging supply chains and past customers will yield greater results and work to forge relationships of value and longevity with those who can have the greatest impact on your success.

Interested in purchasing this fantastic game? Click Here!

Submitted By:  Lisa Taylor, student, SMPB, University of Waterloo

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