Journalist-turned-entrepreneur takes the plunge with ‘The Outdoor Journal’, a platform for adventure enthusiasts
‘The Outdoor Journal’ is a global active lifestyle magazine with a view to provide an ecosystem that collates and inspires adventure sports lovers.
From writing inspirational and instructional stories to organising events and workshops to providing guide books, the journal has everything that an adventure lover looks for.
‘The Outdoor Journal’ is the brainchild of Apoorva Prasad, a multimedia adventure journalist, who wanted to create a media platform in India to generate authentic information related to adventure sports. He says, “Today there are different kinds of sites and blogs, but unless there is a brand behind it, it is very hard to collate people and tell them the right way of doing things.”
Struck by the stark contrast between the Indian and the foreign adventure sports culture, Prasad decided to promote India as an adventure sports hub both nationally and internationally. The journal is available both in print and online; both mediums highlight different areas of adventure sports.
“The magazine is fundamentally an aspirational lifestyle product and the website is where we collate news, because news gets old in print. We show that while these activities are there across India, it is not very safe sometimes. This allows us to maintain safety standards,” he says.
However, Prasad’s journey from an adventure journalist to an entrepreneur was a difficult one. In 2002, he started Climbing India, a web forum, along with his mentor which unfortunately didn’t prove fruitful. “We had only about 70-100 people who came to our site regularly. So we decided that this audience isn’t large enough to sustain this as an idea,” he says.
Interestingly, this helped him analyse the adventure sports trend in India, the lack of proper internet penetration and he knew that it was too early to execute his idea. Meanwhile, after his years of journalistic experiences with ‘Outlook Traveller’, ‘The Economic Times’, ‘The Sunday Guardian’, ‘The Australian’, ‘Indian Mountaineer’, ‘L’Equipe’ and more, he launched TOJ’s first edition in April 2013.
“I was writing for the ‘Outlook Traveller’ in 2004. Whenever I asked them why we don’t cover more adventure sports or maybe start a mag with ‘Outlook’, they would say the audience is not there, it is too small a market. This carried on for 3 years,” he recollects.
Being the first ones to explore this area, the major obstacle that they faced was small audience in comparison to the US and Europe. “If you go to any book store in the US you will come across nearly 20-30 magazines on separate outdoor activities. That’s the size of the market there,” says Prasad. To combat this obstacle, they began organising large scale events and invite people to participate in this outdoor space.
Along with providing opportunities to adventure lovers, TOJ is also trying to reach out to various international brands. Since India has few adventure sports brands and most of them are here via distribution or franchise methods, it becomes difficult for TOJ to reach out to them. “But I believe things are changing now,” he says. “Various international brands are sending us gear and their products for reviews. So if people in India are unable to buy them in India, they can order it online,” he adds.
In their adventurous journey, they plan to host various events like their ‘Run the Rann’, an ultra-marathon along the pristine salt desert of Great Rann of Kutch. Alongside, they are launching activity specific guide books teamed up with GPS facilities in the form of an app. In September, they will be launching a trekking guide book and by the end of the year they plan to come up with a mountaineering book too. Such methods, they believe, will help an outdoor person understand and explore better.
For the ones who are interested in getting into this lifestyle, TOJ has been holding various clinics and educational workshops in New Delhi. Through these workshops, TOJ wants to “nurture a community that becomes independent and is able to perform these activities by themselves without feeling that they need to rely on some operator or event manager.”
Prasad went on with his future plans, adding, “New verticals will include a ‘TOJ Film Collective’, where we’ll be doing more adventure videos; and ‘TOJ Athletes’, which lends out support to Indian outdoor and adventure sport athletes, who compete and win international events, but receive little or no media attention and sponsors here in India.
“Did you know your health insurance doesn’t cover you if you are an adventure sports person? We want to create these changes in this ecosystem. Once we have at least 50,000 people in our mould, we can go and demand for insurance. Similar to how it is in the US and Europe,” says Prasad.