Ankit Jain of Pathloom tells us about modern trip planning for every adventurer.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Pathloom.
Ankit Jain: I often feel like Pathloom is an extension of my passions both personally and professionally in a way, not too many other things are in my life. After graduating with a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and publishing a few research papers in space systems and navigation, I dabbled in the NewSpace early-stage startup ecosystem for a couple of years as an astropreneur. Being an avid outdoors person, and having spent many years planning various types of outdoor trips, I had personal frustrations and pain points with the current outdoor trip planning process and infrastructure. I saw an opportunity for me to use my Aerospace and Space Systems background, more specifically, my data, GIS, tech and software expertise in the context of the outdoors in a novel manner to enable more people to get outside more often – hence, Pathloom was born.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Ankit Jain: Trying to set personal boundaries and routines is very helpful for me as, often, things can get out of hand very quickly, and work can become all-consuming – which in the long term, is not healthy for me. I try to play basketball a couple of times a week and I try to pack in an outdoor adventure at least monthly.
How does Pathloom market its product/services online?
Ankit Jain: Currently, we’ve been focused on our website and social media traffic. We’ve been working hard to grow a community around our blog and social media channels like Instagram and YouTube. This is where we’re seeing the kind of engagement from the community that we’ve been hoping for, and we’re continuing to build on those.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Ankit Jain: We try to use content calendar systems like Trello to keep our content efforts coherent across a spread-out team. We also use Slack, Google Drive, and other management tools to keep our communications and organization around these efforts in place with effective configuration management systems.
What is your hiring policy/process and how do you retain your employees?
Ankit Jain: As an early-stage startup, recruiting is always difficult and you have a limited ability to compete with other mature companies, especially in the Bay Area tech market. We’ve tried to keep our recruiting efforts focused and transparent to ensure the best use of everyone’s time and to ensure the right fit at our early stages. We’ve had some success and some failures in that process, and we’re continuing to learn from them.
How are you funding your growth?
Ankit Jain: We’re working with exciting investors to bring in external capital to fuel our growth. Fundraising has been an important part of our journey, and without the right kind of partners, we wouldn’t be able to grow at the rate we’re growing today. We’re fortunate to have our existing investors in our corner to support our journey.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ankit Jain: The outdoor trip planning app space is getting more saturated with newcomers like Sekr, Outdoorsy, and others. Incumbents in this space include Hipcamp, theDyrt, Alltrails, and others. We’ve been cognizant to carve out a value proposition in this space that is unique to Pathloom’s offering and vision for how people get outside more easily. We truly believe that Pathloom will disrupt this space and enable more access for people to be able to get outdoors in the way they like to.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Ankit Jain: We’ve built up an exciting early adopter community of 4,000+ outdoor enthusiasts for the Pathloom app. Through this process, we’ve heard invaluable feedback from the community indicating the positive value propositions that the Pathloom app offers compared to others and how they think the app can be improved even further. This is exactly the kind of feedback that helps fuel our product development lifecycle and iterations there within and keeps the fire burning within us.
Your final thoughts?
Ankit Jain: Building a startup is tough – in fact, it’s been one of the most trying challenges of my life thus far. I’ve found a source of resiliency within me that hadn’t surfaced until I encountered the reality of the pandemic and what that meant for Pathloom and myself in an economic downturn and widespread panic, not to mention the emotional and psychological toll of dealing with the pandemic itself. However, with fellow teammates and support from family and friends, we chartered an aggressive course for Pathloom through the pandemic and looked at ways that we could help more people get outside for their wellbeing. It’s been nothing but a rewarding, and learning adventure, and I’m excited for what the future holds for Pathloom.