The Rebirth Of Navicaching

Back in April, It’s Not About The Numbers reported that The Mad Cacher bloggers had bought the historic Navicache website; now we ask the new owners first-hand about their plans …

Like the fabled phoenix rising from the ashes, one of our sport’s original listing services, Navicache, is back.

Until recently, it was a little used reminder of geocaching’s heady beginnings; having been started in Rochester, New York during 2001 by a player supposedly using the alias Quinn Stone. But at its peak, the site boosted a database of more than 11,500 caches worldwide and 38,000-plus registered users.

Since news broke that Stone’s brother PC Medic had put the Navicache domain up for sale, interest in the geo-alternative has been firmly rekindled and it seems destined to grow further.

Yet one of its new owners, Leeward Coast chief executive and president Joseph (EJ) Martin III, doesn’t expect that his version will rival Groundspeak’s Geocaching.com or Garmin’s OpenCaching sites in the way you would expect.

“I think ‘rival’ is a strong word as we believe there is enough room for three location sites for geocaching,” he explains. “Our challenge will be generate enough users to populate the sites with A LOT of geocaches, and to do that we need to get the user counts back up.

“In order to do that, we plan to develop a site that geocachers want, with rules that geocachers think are suitable. GC.com and OX are both backed by large enterprises, and while that means they have more funding and people, we’re a much smaller team – so our advantage is the ability to be dynamic and listen to the users.”

He and business partner Kurt Milligan bought Navicache because they “are big believers in the value of social media platforms”. “Though our blog does allow us to interact with a large audience, it is really our Facebook wall that has allowed us to interact on a daily basis, one on one, with other geocachers.

“Based on that success, we were looking at Google+ and playing around with its features. One of the first persons to join our ‘circle’ posted that Navicache.com was for sale, which immediately caught our eye. From there, we just contacted the old owner and started a conversation.

“We felt it important that one of the oldest geocaching websites stay available for the community as a resource. It was also a natural fit for us as an add on to the success we’ve had with The Mad Cacher.”

Martin, who has found navicaches near his home in central New York, sidesteps the question of how many the duo paid for the site but adds that the “gracious” former owner wanted the site to stay within the geo-community. “I think both parties got a fair deal out of the process.”

He and Mulligan, the company’s chief operating officer, decided not to create their own listing site as “it could take years to get where Navicache already is”.  “To be honest – this is easier. Websites are ranked by google according to ‘PR’ or page rank. Earning PR is not an easy process and Navcache is a PR 5 site (which is strong). This means that Google knows this site is valuable due to its content, age and visitors. Ultimately what that means for us is a better ranking in the Google pages, which means more visitors and more users. Plus, you’ve got the history of the site and a large database of caches already hidden.”

The first task ahead of Martin and Mulligan is to hire a freelance computer programmer to overhaul Navicache’s graphics and interface. “If you look at Navicache compared to the other two ‘giants’, it’s obvious that the site is dated. If users go to a dated site, it’s off-putting, and we know we have just a few seconds to capture their attention. We’re currently interviewing ‘coders’ to help with the skeleton and development of a scope of work for the graphics creation. If anyone out there has experience in PERL and is looking for some freelance work, please get hold of us.”

After that will come integration of The Mad Cacher’s social media presence into Navicache and co-branding of the two entities. “We’ll add a newsletter and mobile app as well. One idea that Kurt had that I thought was an excellent one was to allow geocaching clubs to host their websites on our server space – that way clubs could interact, create challenges and point to caches using our database and backbone.

“We do have a few other  ideas of our own as far as new geocaching features, but I’ll keep them in my pocket for now as I want to make sure they are possible before announcing them. I would encourage anyone who has any idea or a pet peeve about the other services to contact us – we’ll take and consider all ideas.”

Right now, Martin has no idea how many of the current navicaches hides currently listed – including at least eight in New Zealand – are still active but says determining the extent of that issue is another priority. “One of the things we’ll need our coder to do is to write an alert for any cache with three or more DNFs in a row. We’ll also add a ‘I think this is dead’ icon so users can tell us if they think a cache needs to be retired. From there, it will be a manual process of review and retirement.”

This is the third geo-site the pair have acquired in the last 18 months; beginning with their CacheBarn brand and then their purchase of The Mad Cacher blog as part of an ultimate goal of offering “the best geocaching experience we can”.

“CacheBarn was our original brainchild and entry point but has been sidelined for now as we focus on The Mad Cacher and Navicache. To be honest, we know Navicache is going to take a lot of work and time in the near future and so our focus is on building the team we need to take that site to the next level. That said Kurt and I are opportunists at heart and if other sites present themselves where we think we can add value, we certainly will do the due diligence to see if taking it on makes sense.”

*Are you a past or present Navicache member? And more importantly, will you be returning to the fold when a savvy, new Navicache.com goes live? Tell us below …



Skip to comment form

  1. DudleyGrunt

    I’m a current Navicache member and check the site and forums regularly. Currently, I’m most inclined to look for NC virtuals when I’m in a new area. I’m pretty leery to invest a lot of time or go far out of my way for a physical Navicache (that is not crosslisted and clearly active on the the other site), since it has usually been 5 or more years since the cache was logged as found.

    I enjoy having the “alternative” caching sites and am an admin for OpenCaching North America (OC.US), as well as, very active with TerraCaching.

    I’m eagerly looking forward to what the new team does with Navicache and wish them luck.

  2. Nick Hudson on Facebook

    I’m more of a TC kind of guy, but if new ownership works for NC as it did for TC, then I will be more than happy to place a few NCs…

  3. Tim

    Should be interesting to see what happens. Living in Rochester, and having attended some events where Quinn attended, I’ve always kept an eye on the site though it has seemed largely dead the last 5 years or more, at least locally.

  4. Web-ling

    One of the big issues with Navicache will be getting rid of caches that should have been archived years ago, without archiving active caches. The Navicaches I still have listed are active; most of the others in my area are not, and haven’t been for quite a while.

  5. Kurt

    Update for you all. EJ and I are meeting with the developer this evening to see what we can do in the short term for Navicache. We got some quotes for redesigned graphic and it was much more than what we have in the coffers at the moment to allocate to this project.

    We are in the process of putting together a fundraising campaign with Kickstarter and or IndieGogo to see if we can generate the necessary funds. We are also hoping we see some increases in book sales that we can apply to this effort.

    Even if we cannot raise the funds we will try and clean the database and refresh the look, but it may take longer and be less polished than either of us would like. Now that EJ and I live in the same state it makes communication much easier. Thank you all for the support!

  6. Dave Self

    Anything on the horizon? A number of things do not work on the site, but at least you can manage to search and log.

Leave a Reply to DudleyGrunt Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Switch to mobile version