If you’re a fisherman on vacation, how are you supposed to know which spots are the best for fishing? Chances are that you may not know this information on your own but with a good guide you could easily find the right place to sit back and drop your hook.

Of course, if you want to find the right guide then you’ll want to stop by the Hire a Fishing Guide website. Launched by Tom Lulinski and Matt Dahlgren, the website is simply a manifestation of something they already enjoyed: fishing. Single handedly, these two are working hard to make sure anyone anywhere will be able to find a fishing guide when they need one, for free.

Tell us a little about HireAFishingGuide.com.

HireAFishingGuide.com is a free referral service offering the safest and easiest way for an angler to find a reputable, professional fishing guide or charter boat captain who is available when they want to fish. To ensure that our service is only referring professional guides to anglers we require fishing guides and charters to provide proof of insurance and licensing information before joining our membership. To ensure professional results, members are rated by our users of our service. Our members offer services covering all fish species and types of fishing on nearly any body of water in the United States. The service is easy to use. Fishermen complete a short questionnaire about their desired fishing trip and our automated system does the rest. The fishing guide or charter boat captain that is matched to each request has read the questionnaire and is ready to meet the fisherman’s needs. They will be available on the chosen date and at the preferred location. Most matches are made within 48 hours and many in as little as 5 minutes. Users are never obligated to use our suggested fishing guide.

HireAFishingGuide.com is a different way for fishing guides and charter boat captains to grow and improve their business. We do not advertise their businesses. Our automated system sends them leads of potential clients based on profiles that are created when they join our service.

What inspired you and your partner to launch this business?

The idea came to my partner, Tom Lulinski. He loves to take people fishing and sharing his enthusiasm with them. HireAFishingGuide.com is really an adaptation of sharing that passion, only on a larger scale.

I am also an avid outdoorsman and we both are excited by the opportunity to work in a field that we are passionate about. As entrepreneurs, Tom and I feel that we identified a need in the industry that was not being met. As a result, we are the first to market this business model in our industry.

How many locations do you currently have guides listed in?

We have members in nearly every state and are easily able to fill fishing guide requests in the most popular locations. We are encouraged by the reception we have received from fishing guides and charter boat captains and are signing new members daily. Our members are really embracing our business model.

When was your business launched?

We launched the service on January 4, 2010 but we but started registering guides in November 2009.

What are some of the goals you hope to accomplish before your next anniversary? Any long term goals?

Our goal in this first year is to be cash flow positive. This may seem pretty simple, but it encompasses a lot. To achieve this goal, we need to make smart, successful marketing choices. We need to continue to provide excellent customer service and grow our guide membership.

Our long-term goals involve aggressive sales growth and the expansion to international markets. We are already getting requests from guides to expand to Canada and Central America.

How long did it take for you to build your business from idea to launch? What was the process like?

The process can be broken down into several stages over nearly two and a half years.

Tom spent 18 months researching the market and developing the idea. He wrote the business plan during this time. The next six months were spent interviewing website developers and sharing his ideas with a few trusted people to refine the concept and explore financing options. During these discussions Tom and I decided to partner on the venture.

The next six months or so were spent working with our developers, building the web site, and building our virtual company. The entire process has been educational and exciting. It seems like we learn something new every day. It is a great feeling seeing the hard work come together and proving that the concept works. From our first guide signing up to our first successful trip, hitting each milestone gives us great feelings of accomplishment.

What are some of the lessons your business has taught you?

Plan, plan, plan, but be flexible and learn from the experiences that do not go as planned.

There are so many highs and lows in the beginning. We needed to learn to keep them in perspective.

Have you always been entrepreneurial?

Yes, we both have. I have owned a small business, but I have also had a corporate job. So I know the pros and cons of both. Tom has run his own companies since high school. At fourteen, he had a landscaping business with several employees. They had to drive him around so he could prepare estimates, buy supplies, etc. until he got his drivers license.

Do you have any tips that you’d like to offer fellow entrepreneurs that are just getting started?

Start with a well researched business plan, even if you do not need financing. Preparing the business plan helps develop the idea, establish goals, and creates a road map on how to accomplish your goals. Seek the ideas and opinions of friends, family, and consultants throughout your development. You want to approach people from different backgrounds and demographics. They may see problems that you have not anticipated or provide the solutions that you are seeking.

Originally posted by Angela Shupe on July 10, 2014 in Interviews.

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