Rockbusters' Blog Post

15/03/2018

27Crags: From passion for climbing to building a company

Building a business out of your passion is an amazing feeling. It’s definitely not for everybody and plenty of people say they prefer to keep their work and passions separate. Combining the two has the same risks as building a business partnership with your spouse: things can get complicated. Transitioning between “personal” and “business” modes can wear on you. Your relationship with your partner (or your passion) can get strained if things don’t go smoothly.

They key is in ingraining your personal values into your work and your brand, so that you don’t have to pretend to be somebody you’re not. Making a living out of who you genuinely are and doing what you love is in many ways what they call “living the dream”. Of course, there are harder days (we’ll be sharing Rockbusters story with its up and downs with you soon) but as a whole it’s extremely rewarding. 

Finland’s climbing

A few of decades ago Olhava was pretty much the only rock climbing venue in Finland and a stomping ground for aspiring alpinists. In 1989 the first indoor gym opened its doors to cater for the needs of climbers during the long Finnish winter. The rise of easily accessible, safe indoor climbing spiked the public’s interest in the sport which quickly resulted in the development of new sport and trad climbing crags. Bouldering came later with the discovery of good quality rock hidden deep in the beautiful forests.

As more and more rock was cleaned and new lines were opened all around the country, a psyched climber from Jyväskylä, Markus Bengts, wanted to create a website that would list twenty seven best climbing destinations in the world. He then realised that it should serve also as a topo making platform where information could easily be updated and shared with the whole community.

As climbing was becoming more popular, Bengts new website very quickly expanded beyond the eponymous number.

From passion to business

The new website’s user count was quickly growing and soon contributors from abroad started logging their new crags, routes and boulders. The database outgrew everything else in both Finland and Sweden and users started enquiring about new features and functionalities.

Bengts had a tough choice to make: give up on the website which started taking way too much of his free time, or go the entrepreneurial way and professionalise.

“It was a hard combination. The love for climbing and 27Crags combined with the fact that things needed to change in order to continue the story. A big step was the successful crowdfunding campaign done by the new people who joined the team, Ville and Jarmo. The support we got from the climbing community and the team’s hard work are the reasons why we exist,” explains Bengts.

Introducing the Premium Topo feature to them to create an income to keep the website running and develop it into a modern, highly usable tool for the contemporary climber. Over one hundred and fifty of the world’s biggest, most popular climbing areas were extensively covered (and are constantly being updated) as Premium Topos, and the amount is growing every week. In addition, the community content created by climbers around the world is still available for free and every user can add new locations and climbs to the database.

Giving back

Recent years have seen many companies large and small lose the competition with the new online business model. For the creators of 27crags.com competing with existing guidebook makers was never an option. Instead, they wanted to offer the community to join in with their efforts, create together and sometimes even see bigger revenues than printed guidebooks.

All Premium Topos are created with local knowledge and their authors take a 50% cut from the sales. This way they can continue in their line of work, keep developing and cataloging new areas and publishing physical guidebooks which are an important part of the climbing culture.

We’re incredibly happy to partner with 27crags to provide all our customers with free one month access to all Premium Topos. Whether you head with us to Margalef, Ceuse, or Albarracin, you will now have a high quality climbing guide in the palm of your hand, on the screen of your phone both online and offline.

To get a discount with 27crags and get to know more about how they give back to the climbing community, subscribe to our newsletter and stay tuned for updates.