Being an outdoorsy person, I was immediately drawn to Mike, a strong military man. When he shared his love of bass fishing and the outdoors with me, it was a fate sealed in stone. When I was young my father had taken me fishing, but it wasn’t quite the same. My father would say “Sit still, the fish will bite!”. With Mike I was able to walk down the bank, talk, move around, cast repeatedly. It was extraordinary! We became best friends after that and spent many days side by side no matter the task. Because of my entrepreneurial personality and the love of fishing early on in our relationship, I found business opportunities in the fishing industry. One day at lunch the idea of Ultimate Bass was sketched out on a $150,000 napkin in a bowling alley by two best friends and it came to life from there.
Competitive bass fishing is addictive, and in bass fishing the competition starts by joining a local bass club. Anglers who felt accomplished in their skills at the club level would enter a broader level of competition. Mike and I were part of a club and would also participate in larger local tournaments. When I saw the revenue potential of the larger events I knew that I wanted to promote them, not just participate, so we started our second business venture. We began holding scheduled tournaments on local lakes and were able to draw 180 teams at each event. It was an outstanding business until the military transferred my best friend to Korea.
I moved to Louisiana to start our new life because that is where he would be returning. It was a long year, but when he came home, we picked right back up and looked for another fishing industry business. There were not a lot of tournament circuits available in the area so why not give it a try. Fishing was after all, what we knew best. We held the first few tournaments and realized that we needed a way to get information out to our anglers in a faster more cost effective way. In the past we had sent out a newsletter through the mail, that just didn’t seem like it was the best plan of action here.
Sitting in the bowling alley, we were talking about how to get tournament information out to our anglers. I was doodling on my napkin, while we were talking about the options. The internet was becoming popular at that time, so a website just seemed natural. We would post tournament results and members could visit anytime. While we talked I scribbled out the shape of what I thought might be the “Ultimate Bass” and we decided on the name UltimateBass.com. We chuckled at each other when Mike said, “wouldn’t it be great if we could sell it for fifty thousand dollars one day?” The doodle on the napkin later became the logo for the site, and we were able to maintain the hand-drawn bass throughout the company’s life.
A few months ago, almost 14 years later, I was offered three times that much for UltimateBass.com, now a living breathing social community that one can visit online today. We haven’t sold yet, but we are considering it. Mike and I are still best friends. Married 22 years now, tournament fishing is still a large part of our life, and it is as competitive as ever. As for the napkin that started it all, it is kept safe in our office as a reminder of just what can be accomplished when a person sets their mind to it.