ThruStay Hiking App

Project Goal:

Build a business model for a start-up called ThruStay.

My Role

Brainstorming, Web Design, User Infterface, Branding, Business Concept Creation, Development of Business Canvas Model




While hiking the Appalachian Trail, there is a need to find convenient, affordable and accessible rental stays for thru-hikers that can provide respite during the arduous trek from Georgia to Maine. In those more rural areas adjoining the AT, there are opportunities to rent rooms or properties to the constant flow of hikers especially through the peak months of April thru October. The ThruStay app would bring together these two market segments into a natural symbiotic relationship.

Mission Statement:

The joining of the hiking community and rural rental property owners together in an a cohesive union of mutual benefit with the goal to bring joy and comfort to the weary travelers.

The Business Model Canvas:

The strategic management and lean startup document for ThruStay. This is a tool to develop new or document existing business models and describes the value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances.


The Problem and The Solution:

There are not always reliable places to stay that are both convenient and affordable just off the trail for hikers. The homes that border the trail are not found on Airbnb because of their more remote locations. This app brings together property owners who are not normally able to offer their homes for rent because they are in atypical or off market locales and hikers who need a reliable place to stay where they can refuel and re-supply for the trail.


Value Proposition:

This app aspires to bring together two otherwise unrelated segments, one being the long distance hiking community and the other is the off-market or more remote locations of rental property.

Hikers/Users Needs:
  • Comfortable, clean, bug-free, dry shelter
  • Fair prices - better than a hotel - A place where a one night stay will not break the bank
  • Place to recharge devices, batteries and get needed first aid
  • Access to shuttling transportation to and from the trail head
  • Ability to book online accommodations from the trail with use of smartphone
Home Renters Opportunity:
  • Ability to tap into a larger market or community
  • Ability to rent to a familiar and captive customer segment
  • Lengthened season for renting property
  • Exposure to rent for those more remote locations not typically seen as a part of the rental market
  • Ability to secure bookings online and in advance

Target Market Segmentation

The ThruStay app would serve a segmented market, wherein multiple different groups of customers that have different sets of needs and problems. More specifically this would be an example of a multi-sided market and would serve interdependent customer segments.

The Customer Segments for ThruStay:
  • Thru-Hikers, Long-Distance Hikers and Section Hikers
  • Rural or Remote Home Renters / B&B Owners / Cabin Owners

The Competition:

Air BnB

Property Rental App


Wayfinding App for Hikers Using GPS


An app download fee of $4 per download will be charged to the end users/hikers and a 15% fee taken off of the rental fee, as well as the $75 sign-up fee collected from the sellers will be the revenue source for this business.

ThruStay Web App Homepage:

ThruStay Homepage

ThruStay Homepage

How it works for Hikers

Once downloaded and logged-in hikers can go online using the app to search large inventory of lodging near your GPS coordinates or at other locales for rent. Hikers can pay for lodging in advance for one night or more depending on their preference. Hikers can see other hiker friends if they signed in the online registry to track others and keep up to date of friends plans to stay along the trail.

How it works for Renters

Property owners can sign-up and agree to percentage fee of rentals signed up through ThruStay app and will be able to add their home or lodging to the existing inventory. Images of the home can be uploaded and information about shuttling to and from the trailhead and resupply items can be advertised to hikers as well as any other creature comforts that would attract potential customers.

ThruStay Homepage



ThruStay will target and employ Facebook advertising, and introduce its App to the Apple Store and Google App Store where customers can download it.  ThruStay will further communicate its offerings and value to individual customer segments by running affilaite relationships with outfitter stores such as Cabelas, REI and EMS. Stores can combine gear and clothing deals promotions and earn margins for downloaded application sales.

Customer Relationships:


Rental Property owners will be able to upload images of their home along with descriptions of the property, contact information as well as the required rental fee. Hikers will be able to easily search this inventory and make online reservations on a computer or smartphone.

Call Center Assistance:

A call center will handle any customer questions about how to use the app and handle any issues regarding financial transactions on the application.

Customer Relationships

Business Development

Key Activities:

Area Representatives and Business Development Team will be responsible for establishing rental contacts within promising territories for prime Home Rentals that exist along the Appalachian Trail along the east coast from Georgia to Maine.

Also relationships will be forged with Appalachian Trail Conservancy and with retail re-sellers such as REI, EMS and Cabellas to cross-sell the application in promotional combinations with hiking gear.

Key Partnerships:

Angel Investor:

After pitching this partner and winning their confidence, this investor who deals in tech and apps will provide funding for start ups costs for a percentage of ownership and stock options.

Web App Developer:

This partner will do the heavy lifting in building the application, coding and creating any necessary maintenance and patches for security concerns as is needed. Instead of hiring an employee this contractor will receive higher than average pay but the company will save by not having to carry health insurance etc.

Social Media Marketing:

The company will seek out the services of a proved marketing agency in the tech field in order to bring the application to market and to get the highest exposure possible to our niche audience.

Key Relationships

Revenue Streams:

One Time App Download Fee: $4.00 per DL (hikers)

Rental Fee Percentage: 15% of Rental Fee (sellers)

Rental One Time Sign-up Fee: $75.00 (sellers)

Cost Structure:

  • Call center and office rent, physical server space
  • Salaries for relationship builders, contractors and any area sales representatives
  • Contracted Salaries for Graphic / UX Designer and Web / App Developer
  • Fees and charges to sell on Apple and Google Store respectively
  • Percentage of commissioned sales paid to vendors or retail partners such as hiking stores ie Cabela's, REI and EMS
  • Cost of social media marketing consulting / Cost of Facebook Ads
  • Cost to do print ads and marketing in hiking publications like Outdoors, The Outsider, etc

Key Resources

Key Resources:

Team of avid hikers who hired as contractors that will test the application in the field and will gather valuable data for the application. Relationship builders and area sales reps in the field and call center of former and current hikers that can find home-renters that are open to renting out homes along the Appalachian trail to thru-hiker community.

Physical Resources:

Physical Resources
Yearly Cost
Server Space $2,000
Office Space $6,000
Total $8,000
Key Resources

Marketing Resources:

Key Resources
Marketing Resources
Yearly Cost
Facebook Ad Purchases $20,000
Print Pieces $10,000
Total $30,000

Human Resources:

Human Resources
Yearly Cost
Web Development Contractor $70,000
Graphic and UX Designer Contractor $60,000
2 Call Center / Customer Service Reps $60,000
Facebook Marketing Consultants $50,000
2 Area Sales Representatives $90,000
Total $ 330,000
Key Resources

Monthly Breakdown:

Burn Rate Per Month: $330,000 + $38,000 = $368,000 / 12 = $30,666

500 Seller Sign-ups @ $75: 500 x $75 = $37,500 per month

15% of $150 x 400 hiker rentals per month: $9,000 per month

750 Downloads @ $4 per signup, per month: $3,000 per month

Total: $49,500 revenue per month - $30,666 monthly costs =

Monthly Profit: $18,834