Johnson City tech company ‘Connect Outdoors’ makes a splash at fishing tournaments

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Entrepreneur Ben Arnold had an idea in 2014 – creating a fish scale that automatically records weight data through software. He began developing the device in his basement. Five years later the concept has grown into a business that’s helping bass fishing tournaments across Tennessee and beyond.

‘Connect Scale’ offers Bluetooth scales, an app, and a fishing league and tournament management platform.

“It allows anglers to use the scale to automate the catch-logging process,” Arnold said.

Ben Arnold and his Connect Scale

Connect Scale grew into the broader Connect Outdoors Inc. in April 2019 and is based out of the ETSU Innovation Lab. Arnold is the president and CEO and is partnered with other entrepreneurs.

The technology has been helping high school fishing tournaments across the state simplify the catch-weighing process.

“So you would take a picture using your smartphone, then it logs it in, and then feeds into the database,” Arnold said. “Then it updates the live leaderboards. Tournament administrators are able to keep track and know where they’re at during the day.”

Beyond high school students, anglers across the country are buying Connect Scale devices and memberships.

“We’re hoping to grow to where we can start to host more state-specific events,” said Arnold.

The Connect Scale app

On Thursday Connect Outdoors announced a new partnership with Bethel University in McKenzie and Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation.

“They’ll be using our scale and our software to do a side tournament. The participants in that side tournament will have the opportunity to win a four-year scholarship to Bethel University,” Arnold said.

Garry Mason, head coach for the eight-time national champion Bethel bass fishing team, said they look forward to recruiting new members from the Connect platform and using the tech in the future.

“Connect Scale is a great up-and-coming company that’s changing the scenery. I can see the future of college bass fishing going to this format,” Mason said.

Connect Scale evolved into the Connect Outdoors brand because of Arnold’s future plans to develop software and social platforms for hiking and other outdoor activities. Meanwhile, the original Connect Scale device that started it all will continue to improve based on user feedback.

“We’re actually now in development of our third-generation scale that we’re going to be launching early in the first quarter of 2020,” he said.

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