Ultimate Bass and the $150,000 Napkin

Being an outdoorsy person, I was immediately drawn to Mike, a strong military man, and an avid fisherman When he shared his love of bass fishing and the outdoors with me, it was a fate sealed in stone. When I was young, my father had taken me fishing, but it wasn’t quite the same. My father would say, “Sit still, and the fish will bite!” With Mike, I was able to walk down the bank, talk, move around, cast repeatedly. It was extraordinary! We became best friends and spent many days side by side no matter the task. Because of my entrepreneurial personality and the shared love of fishing early on in our relationship, I found business opportunities in the fishing industry. One day at lunch the idea of Ultimate Bass was sketched out on a $.05 napkin in a bowling alley by two best friends. It came to life from there. Ultimate Bass and the $150,000 Napkin here’s how the next decade and a half rolled out.

Ultimate Bass and the $150,000 Napkin

Competitive bass fishing is addictive, and in bass fishing, the competition starts by joining a local bass club. Anglers who felt accomplished in their skills at the club level would enter a broader level of competition. Mike and I were part of a club and would also participate in larger local tournaments. When I saw the revenue potential of the larger events, I knew I wanted to promote them, not just compete. We started our second, of many, business venture shortly afterward. We began holding scheduled tournaments on local lakes and were able to draw 180 teams at each event. It was an outstanding business until the military transferred my best friend to Korea.

I moved to Louisiana to start our new life because this is where he would be returning. It was a long year. When he came home, we picked right back up and looked for another fishing industry business. There were not a lot of tournament circuits available in the area so why not give it a try. Fishing was after all, what we knew best. We held the first few tournaments and realized we needed a way to get information out to anglers in a faster more cost-effective way. In the past we mailed out a newsletter, this just didn’t seem like it was the best plan of action here in Louisiana.

Ultimate Bass and the $150,000 Napkin

Sitting in the bowling alley, we were talking about how to get tournament information out to our anglers. I was doodling on my napkin while we were talking about the options. The internet was becoming popular, so a website just seemed natural. We would post tournament results, and members could get up-to-date information anytime. While we talked I scribbled out the shape of what I thought might be the “Ultimate Bass” and we decided on the name UltimateBass.com. We chuckled at each other when Mike said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could sell it for fifty thousand dollars one day?” The doodle on the napkin later became the logo for the website, and we continue maintaining the hand-drawn bass to this day.

A few months ago, almost 14 years later, I was offered three times our laughable $50,000 for UltimateBass.com. Now a living, breathing social community with a primary focus on bass fishing, but also special interest items from fishing gear to how to take care of aches and pains associated with fishing. All this available to anyone with an internet connection. We obviously haven’t and won’t be selling Ultimate Bass. Mike and I are still best friends, married 27 years now. Tournament fishing is still a large part of our life, and it is as competitive as ever. As for the napkin that started it all, it is kept safe in our office as a reminder of just what can be accomplished when a person sets their mind to it.

Have fun on the water,
Laurie Cork

Editor’s note: This is a writing assignment Laurie wrote for your college English course 6 years ago. Two things, one the timeline is off. Second, it’s never too late to go back to college!

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