West Michigan man launches live video Web site featuring deer
- By Myron Kukla | The Grand Rapids Press
RAVENNA — Entrepreneur Drew Born is betting he can attract 50,000 to 100,000
people to watch whitetail Michigan deer in the wild from their computer screens.
Born recently launched bornbucks.com, a website that allows hunters and wildlife
enthusiasts to watch a live video stream showing deer while they feed, sleep,
romp and fight.
“There are 19 million hunters in the U.S. who fit into our target market,” said
Born, who created the website business with Whitehouse Whitetails deer ranch on
Trent Road. “They have a passion for deer, but the only time they see deer is
when they’re out hunting in the fall. Now, they can watch them 24/7.”
About 1,000 whitetail roam the 145-acre deer breeding preserve where Born has
set up four video cameras. People can sign up for free to full access to the
website, which also includes prerecorded video and photos of deer and trophy
bucks at the ranch.
Original plans called for users to be charged for access to the website, but
Born, 20, decided to give free access and sell advertising to outdoor outfitting
companies and hunting, fishing and camping supply stores.
The site is already a hit with local sportsmen.
“You don’t usually get to see the caliber of deer you will see on the website
just walking through the woods,” said Dusten Wells, a Newaygo resident who was
among the first viewers to sign up for the website.
"I get on the site every couple of days for 15 or 20 minutes. (The deer) don’t
look at the camera. Its just deer out there sleeping, eating and sometimes
fighting. It’s sure beats nature films.”
Born has a long association with the deer farm and got the idea for the website
last year while studying business at Hope College. He refined and set up the
site as a summer project for the Hope Entrepreneurial Initiative, which helps
students create and launch their own businesses.
”The program helped me develop the resources and contacts to get bornbucks.com
off the ground,” said Born, who is in his third year at Hope.
Born, a Caledonia native, and a silent partner invested more than $100,000 in
the website, which launched earlier this month.
In addition to hunters, the site is also attracting people who enjoy nature.
"I love watching the deer with my 4-year-old son Jayden; he’ll sit there and
watch them for hours,” said Grand Rapids resident Bill VanStensel, an avid
hunter, adding that he likes that the deer can be viewed any time from the
comfort of home.
Competition in the field already exists from more than a dozen websites that
offer live video of outdoor animal sites. For example, ustream.tv offers live
streaming of all types of events, including live outdoor cameras around the
country for watching everything from bear and deer to squirrels.
Born said he plans to expand his website’s offerings next year.
“We’re looking at the website developing over time, expanding the viewer base
and adding things like actual hunts, archived videos and still photos,” he said.
The site is set to accept advertising and will run contests for people to win
Born plans to aggressively market the website at hunting and fishing shows this
winter and spring.
”I’ll be at almost every show that attracts over 20,000 people,” he said.
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