On 31 May 2019, we launched the Forge App. This was the culmination of two years of planning, sketches, paperwork, verifying and test-flights. Our goal was to create a simple tool with accurate and up-to-date maps to help the outdoor community explore the outdoors in a way that makes them feel comfortable, confident and most importantly – safe.
The launch of the app was akin to what it must be like letting your toddler go off to their first day of school, filled with pride and excitement but also tentative trepidation. We started by focusing on Cape Town, releasing a variety of maps covering the Cape Peninsula – we thought this would be a good testing-ground as to whether this was indeed something people found useful.
Within a couple of weeks, we were completely blown away by the response – newspaper articles, magazine features and even radio interviews. Forge unofficially became adopted as ‘Cape Town’s Hiking App’. We took great pride in this, as the app (and associated website) was our way of contributing to the outdoor community and getting people keen to head into the hills.
Our launch event – handing out Forge ICE cards at major trailheads – was very heartwarming, interacting with people and getting feedback from the exact community we were hoping to help.
Every month since launching, app downloads and site visits ticked over, so we knew we must be doing something right. Taking heart from this, we continued to engage with the community.
In July, Devil’s Peak Brewing Company came on-board as an unofficial beer partner. This allowed us to provide prizes for Instagram competitions and stoke peoples’ keenness for trail-running charity events, co-hosted by the UCT Mountain and Ski Club, raising funds for Shine Literacy.
We ended off the year with a bang, getting on-board with Ultra-Trail Cape Town (UTCT), providing them with digital maps for their website and hosting them on the app. We followed this up by setting up a supporter’s tent at the 65km mark of the race, at Alphen Trail, providing spectators with pancakes, watermelon and some even Devil’s Peak beer.
The start of the new year welcomed a new initiative – the Forge Strava Club. We have slowly built up a small community on the platform, hosting events to keep those competitive juices flowing and providing incentives (if anyone needed them) to hit the trail. The Strava Club assisted in (hopefully) keeping people sane during the hard lockdown with our #ForgeStayHome competition where – just running around gardens and up and down driveways – over the initial 21 days, a daily average of 44 km was amassed from the 23 participants.
Forge remains a labor of love for the crew (three guys and a Jack Russel), but despite the demands of day jobs we have seen through a successful first year live, and as we promised, we will keep adding more trails for you to Find Your Path and Explore More. Watch this space!
Be sure to get the free Forge App on your mobile and download our offline Explore More maps to take with you onto the mountain, then share the stoke using #IAMFORGE.
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