Name of Company: Umpqua Outdoors (umpquaoutdoors.com)
Owners: Bryan and Brayden Langley
How long in business: Just opened in February 2014
Advice for other business owners: “Get advice from others who have been there. There are a lot of people and organizations that are available to help you start your business and keep it up and running.”
Bryan and Brayden Langley of McMinnville, Oregon, have found their calling, quite literally. The 48-year-old Bryan and his 15-year-old son, Brayden, have launched an Internet-based business together—Umpqua Outdoors—centered around the very specialized skill of elk calling.
“It’s thrilling to make the call and an elk shows up. But it is challenging to get that close to those big animals,” said Bryan, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde who has hunted elk for 25 years using a bow and arrow, and works as the tribe’s higher education manger.
To help other hunters have a better shot at catching elk, the father/son duo has created the centerpiece of their business—an educational app for Apple phones and tablets, called iCallElk, that teaches hunters how to make realistic elk sounds on reeds to lure the animals within easy hunting range.
“I don’t know of another elk-calling app out there except ours,” said Bryan, and he certainly knows a little something about elk calling. He won the Oregon State Elk Calling Championship five times and the World Elk Calling Championship in 2012 and 2013. Brayden, who has been hunting with his father since he was a baby and successfully called his first bull when he was 9 years old, won the Pee Wee division of the world championships in 2009, and has placed second every year since in the youth division.
Bryan, a married father of six children, said he thought up the idea for this one-of-a-kind app when he started winning elk-calling competitions about eight years ago—“I’ve been trying to figure out a way to profit from that skill,” he said—but it didn’t all come together until last year, when his eldest son Brayden became interested in software programming through a family friend and developed the framework for iCallElk all on his own.
“I taught myself how to do it by watching tutorials on Lynda.com,” said Brayden, who plans to major in software programming in college. He and his father also attended an Indianpreneurship, a free Native American business class offered through a community college on their reservation, to learn the business end of things.
To get their inventive new app out into the world, the entrepreneurs set their sights on Apple, with high hopes of selling iCallELk through the company’s iTunes store. “Our application to Apple went right through, with no changes,” Bryan said proudly. “Brayden was very excited, since it was his first attempt at programming.”
Through the deal, Apple gets 30 percent of each $3.99 app the Langleys sell. So far, that hasn’t been much. Since they launched the business this past February 11, they’ve raked in a total profit of $200. “It’s a start,” said Bryan. “But I’m not ready to quit my day job yet.”
While an Elk Dynasty might not be in the near future for the father and son team, they do have plans to expand their elk-hunting business. “We have other similar apps in the works, such as iHuntElk, which is more about elk-hunting strategy,” said Bryan. And then there’s iEatElk, which offers up recipes for elk meat, which Bryan said “tastes very good—better and more mild than deer.”
For now, the Langleys are busy trying to promote iCallElk and get the website, Umpquaoutdoors.com, off the ground.
“It started out as a hobby. The goal initially was to create an opportunity for Brayden to make some additional cash,” said his dad. “But we are hoping it takes off enough to where it will help pay for some of his college … and you never know where it may go.”
Lynn Armitage is an entrepreneur and small business owner in Northern California. She is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.