Robert Denhard has a passion for exploring, discovering, and learning about new things, and he wanted to use that passion to make a difference. With LoopBackroads, it’s arguable he’s doing just that.
LoopBackroads, the startup Denhard launched this month, maps out daytrips (or “loops”) for those looking for adventures off the beaten path. One way LoopBackroads hopes to make a positive impact is by encouraging travelers to patronize the mom-and-pop shops that are the heart and soul of so many small towns.
“Sadly, many of them are going away and people are struggling to make ends meet in these smaller communities,” says Denhard, who recently began tooling around the backroads of Central Ohio in an old Miata he bought from a friend.
“Next thing you know, I had these massive goose bumps and realized there is some special stuff in so many different forms, all within striking distance from Columbus,” he says. “Not only is the scenery fantastic and many of the roads a blast to drive, but there are amazing buildings, interesting monuments, weathered and rustic facades and barns, and even castles and ghost towns. The list goes on and on. And of course the random things, too, that are entertaining and can even make for a great photo-op, like a yard filled with 20 washing machines. It’s all interesting and artistic to us.”
To learn more about LoopBackroads −including who is especially supportive of the business, why the stressed out among us can benefit from its excursions, and which markets Denhard wants to tackle next, keep reading.
The Metropreneur: What’s your process when creating a loop?
Robert Denhard: For the Columbus region, I decided I was just going to explore everything. After studying different maps, I sort of plotted out my routes. I put ten circles −the loops− on a map starting from different points in Columbus and then back in an attempt to cover as much of Central Ohio as possible. I drove an insane amount, [to] where the family thought I pretty much had lost my mind. Maybe I did.
I documented everything I came across with a notepad and pen, not a fancy camera, really trying to capture the real essense and unique spirit of the backroads, small towns, and the open road. I also did a ton of reading, talked with more locals than I can count.
[M]: What’s the advantage to following one of your loops versus someone venturing out on their own?
RD: Well, this actually is about as close to venturing out on your own as you might get. That’s basically what I did while attempting to make the experience as fulfilling as possible for the user. We feel our loops take people right into the core of what’s out there, giving people a deeper taste. It’s the perfect turn-by-turn guidebook to just hop in your car or on your motorcyle for a few hours and get away, have some fun doing something different.
[M]: Have you gotten any feedback from LoopBackroads users?
RD: People have really embraced the concept. Also, I called a ton of business owners in the small towns in our Columbus region loops to get insight into what makes their businesses special, and they said this was really something they would support. They are excited about the notion that new customers may be coming their way.
[M]: Right now you offer five loops in the Columbus region. Think you’ll ever expand beyond Central Ohio?
RD: We would love to do loops in more regions, for sure. We are working to get the Columbus region just right, then hopefully we’ll branch out to maybe the Cleveland and Cincinnati regions, then go from there. There are so many neat and amazing places to experience, photos to take, people to meet that I think it would truly be an amazing experience documenting it all for others to enjoy. I have my fingers crossed in hopes of the days I’ll be able to drive around and create loops in places like Colorado and Arizona.
[M]: Any plans to add additional Columbus region loops?
RD: Yes, we will launch five more loops in the summer/early fall to bring the Columbus region loops total to 10.
[M]: Is there a loop you offer that has been particularly popular?
RD: All of the first five are really drawing a lot of attention. At our website, LoopBackroads.com, on our Buy Loops page we have a section explaining what makes each one special. It’s called “Snapshot of the Road Ahead” and it gives folks insight into what they can experience in that particular loop.
[M]: Anything else you think we should know?
RD:If you’re maybe feeling a bit stressed or in a rut, we encourage folks to give one of our loops a try. We feel they truly are spiritually rewarding, help you decompress, and you come back recharged− like after a vacation.
To learn more about LoopBackroads, visit LoopBackroads.com.