Jake Warn, a Thomas College junior from Winslow, has turned his passion for snowmobiling into a high-tech business that he created with help of the college’s Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation. In December, Warn, 21, launched SledTRX.com, a website catering to snowmobile riders. Contributed photo

Jake Warn has turned his passion for snowmobiling into a high-tech business.

Warn is a native of Winslow and a junior at Thomas College where he is also on the school’s soccer team.

He started SledTRX.com, a digitized, interactive, free map system for snowmobiling trails across Maine.

An example of SledTRX.com’s interface.

Putting his studies in entrepreneurship to work, Warn, 21, enrolled in July 2020 in a free Tortoise Labs course through Thomas College’s Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation. He is now working with Tortoise Labs developers on the maps.

In November, Warn pitched his business to Greenlight Maine in hopes of winning the television competition’s $10,000 prize. In December, he launched SledTRX.com.

“The main value comes from the fact that Maine snowmobile information was hard to find before this,” Warn said. “Being able to access this free of charge, digitally, was a huge step for the Maine snowmobile community.”

SledTRX.com helps riders plan snowmobiling trips across Maine. Warn said he hopes his company advances the economic impact of snowmobiling by attracting new riders and solving problems with identifying routes.

More than 10,000 miles of trails with points of interest and amenities have been digitized on SledTRX.com’s free website.

Warn, who plays for the Thomas soccer team, said he grew up riding and goes snowmobiling almost every weekend, often in the Eustis and Rangeley areas.

A $600 million industry for Maine, snowmobilers still often rely on paper maps. Each of Maine’s roughly 280 volunteer-based clubs maintains its own trails, so riders often need to contact clubs to set up trips.

“Clubs are why we have the trails each year,” Warn said. “A lot of them are volunteers and struggle financially, so part of SledTRX is to have these clubs’ trails digitized and to promote memberships. We want to encourage Maine riders to buy memberships to their local clubs.”

Clubs on the map do not pay a fee. Eight clubs are involved so far, with the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club and the Northern Timber Cruisers taking the most interest.

Johnny Wakefield, vice president of the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club and a representative of the Maine Snowmobilers Association, said SledTRX.com is a strong addition to the snowmobiling community.

“It’s another way to bring networking to snowmobiling,” Wakefield said. “Anything we can do, like that stuff, to get people more familiar with where they’re riding is a win.”

The company’s main source of revenue is from advertisements from local businesses. For businesses to get in the system and on the map, they have to pay a fee. So far, Warn has secured commitments from about 20 businesses. Rangeley Power Sports was one of SledTRX’s early advertisers. Warn said he is constantly making calls to woo more advertisers.

“A lot of times, these local businesses cater towards local snowmobilers,” Warn said. “It’s kind of cool on the flip. It helps us make money, but it also helps restaurants reach a bigger crowd. To be able to directly connect to a large group of riders has been impactful to a lot of small businesses, especially coming out of COVID.”

Warn said he hopes to add ATV trails in the spring, and also work with ATV clubs.

“A lot of the ATV clubs are the same as the snowmobile clubs,” he said, “so the transition should be easy.”

Warn presented SledTRX.com on the Greenlight Maine television competition in November. His appearance competing with another Thomas College student is scheduled to air on Maine Public Television at 8 p.m. on April 8.

Jake Warn of Winslow presents his SledTRX.com business on Greenlight Maine in November 2020. The presentation is scheduled to air April 8 on Maine Public Television. Image from video

“I’ve always watched Greenlight Maine,” Warn said, “so I’ve always been aware of the show.”

If Warn advances, he could compete in the finale, with a chance to win up to $10,000.

He said he does not know where he stands in the competition, and will have to watch the show like everyone else.

Said Warn, “It’s getting exciting.”

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