Rochester entrepreneurs create website to inspire new adventures in Southeast Minnesota

Andy Vig (left) and Chris Lukenbill

Endless adventures await throughout Southeast Minnesota. You just need to be able to find them.

That’s where Shrpa comes in. Rochester residents Chris Lukenbill and Andy Vig created the online resource to share ideas for local activities.

“There were so many things to do that we were finding out about in Rochester through other people’s adventures and expeditions,” said Lukenbill. “They were discovering new things that we had never known about.”

“You can usually do the research by looking up Yelp, Google, talking to people, trying to aggregate all this yourself, but that’s so much work,” Vig said. “I’ve got two young kids, Chris has two slightly older kids, and there’s just no time in the day for that.”

Working out of Collider Coworking in downtown Rochester, the two entrepreneurs used their backgrounds in software development to create the website.

The website relies on local residents, or “sherpas,” to compile a variety of adventures in the Rochester, Minnesota area. Each adventure features a detailed itinerary with a map and suggested packing list. (For example, the “Perk Up with Some Parks” adventure includes visits to Fiddlehead Coffee, Mayo Memorial Park, and a Honkers Baseball Game.) Anyone can view the itineraries for free or become a sherpa and share their own adventure.

“Shrpa is a wonderful community connector,” said Bill Von Bank, DMC Economic Development Agency director of marking and communications.  “It’s another valuable entertainment resource for residents and visitors to Rochester, who will benefit from its personalization and sharing model.”

Vig and Lukenbill say it’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in Rochester, as the Destination Medical Center initiative attracts new businesses and a growing, diverse community of innovators in downtown Rochester.

“The value of being in Rochester adds to what we’re creating as a product. Through the education, through the coworking spaces, through the community building efforts that have gone into this, that can’t be understated,” Lukenbill said.

“The community makes all the difference in my opinion,” Vig added. “You almost never come up with a business idea and execute it on your own. You’re always relying on other people to get feedback, to provide skills that you don’t have, to help get the word out, to network.”

Vig and Lukenbill hope that the website continues to expand its footprint and feature more adventures across the region and country. For now, they are trying to spread the word throughout Southeastern Minnesota and continue to receive feedback to improve the site.