Discovery Map – A Rockstar Factory?

By Peter Hans, President, Discovery Map International

Hottest franchises


Are you teachable and are you self-motivated? Those are two critical characteristics we look for in a prospect for a Discovery Map franchise. Time management is another key skill. If you have all three from the get-go, you are ahead of the game. That best explains the success of one of our new map owners, Ethan Unverferth of Discovery Map of the San Juans (Colorado). 

The concept behind Discovery Map is pretty straightforward. We produce colorful, hand-drawn maps for great destinations. The maps are a favorite of travelers, second homeowners and even locals who seek impactful experiences dining, shopping, live performances and other culture. Discovery Maps are typically found on display in local stores, restaurants, hotels, transportation hubs and visitor information offices. Online, we are building a site where those keen to travel can learn and be inspired by those inside tips you can only get from an area local. The address is

There’s a lot to our franchise opportunity. In simple terms, each Discovery Map owner sells advertising on the map, works with our production team to publish the map and then distribute it to the locations discussed above. Of course, there is also the usual business stuff: billing, managing vendors, etc. 

Many of our owners have found the Discovery Map opportunity to be a great way to leave the rat race of corporate America and ease into semi-retirement. We’ve also had a number of mothers/parents buy a franchise and run the business around their parenting schedules. Other Discovery Map owners have used it to return to their hometown or supplement their current business or day job.

With the variety of stories of owners, we’ve had over the years—Discovery Map has been selling franchises for more than three decades—Ethan Unverferth of Ouray, Colorado represents a first:

He’s our first teenage franchise owner!

That’s right. When Ethan and his father Patrick purchased their map, he was 16 years old and had just gotten his driver’s license.

Other than Ethan’s age, the Unverferths’ Discovery Map journey isn’t all that unusual among Discovery Map owners. While on a family trip to Kennebunkport, Maine, Ethan and Patrick came across a Discovery Map. They loved it and inquired about maps in their part of Colorado. As it turns out, the franchise was available. Patrick, owner of three America’s Mattress locations, thought it would be a good opportunity for his son.

“We homeschool our children. That’s led them to be very independent with their studies and their time. All three have an entrepreneurial nature, Ethan in particular. We’ve seen Discovery Maps around the country on our travels and always liked them,” said Patrick. “Given the seasonal nature of running a Discovery Map and the flexibility Ethan has as a homeschool student, we thought it an excellent business for him to cut his teeth and went ahead and made the acquisition.”

That leads us back to the Discovery Map Big Three.

Discovery Map – A Rockstar Factory?
Peter Hans

Teachable, time-management and self-motivated

While most everybody is teachable, training a franchise owner who is still in learning mode as a student was extremely beneficial in Ethan’s case. He and Patrick both attended Discovery Map’s Sales University to ramp up.

Ethan also benefitted from being homeschooled, which places emphasis on time-management and being responsible for getting your schoolwork done. It also helped that Ethan had a part-time job prior to running his franchise and had to balance work and school.

Finally, self-motivation. Starting a business represents one leg of being self-motivated. Actually, running it is another. And then there’s figuring out what that takes and planning. Ethan applied for and received a $1500 micro-grant from the Ouray Economic Development Committee. He put the money towards marketing the map.

In June 2023, the first publication of Discovery Map of the San Juans hit streets and is now being distributed in the communities of Ouray, Montrose, Montrose, and Telluride, Colorado. The first edition of the map far surpassed our expectations for ad revenue. For that, Ethan received Franchise Business Review’s Franchise Rockstar award.

"Is every Discovery Map owner a rockstar? We think so. Or has that potential. Here at headquarters in Waitsfield, VT, we make it our mission to help all our franchise owners take center stage."


Ethan’s age makes him different than the Discovery Map owners of the 120 other locations across the US. Other than that, most Discovery Map owners share those qualities. 

Discovery Map franchise owners tailor their schedule to their lives both on a daily and seasonal basis. There’s a selling season, where owners are looking to attract new business and re-sign current advertisers for an upcoming edition. Then there’s the production season, which might not be as demanding, and finally, map distribution.

During the selling season, a franchise owner might set up sales calls around their children’s school schedule—9 am to 3pm. Somebody with different lifestyle demands might schedule two or three mornings a week for sales calls. Mornings the rest of the week could be spent on follow up and administrative tasks. While everybody’s schedule might be different, the important thing is to have one and maintain the discipline to stick to it.

Fortunately, with the Discovery Map franchise model, you have a roadmap. Additionally, newer owners have fellow franchise owners are a resource and we have regular calls and annual in-person conferences to build and sustain those relationships. 

Is every Discovery Map owner a rockstar? We think so. Or has that potential. Here at headquarters in Waitsfield, VT, we make it our mission to help all our franchise owners take center stage. In fact, just last year another Discovery Map franchisee was named a franchise rock star by Franchise Business Review. Last year it was Jeanna Leek. That powder keg of energy set a sales record in her first edition while managing to excel in her full-time job! 

Are you looking to rock the franchise world? You can find out more about the Discovery Map opportunity at

About Peter Hans

Peter has served as the president of Discovery Map International since 2005. His background is in finance, having worked as an investment banker in New York, London and Zurich for 20 years.

Mr. Hans holds an MBA from Babson College and an undergraduate degree from St. Michael’s College (VT). Married, he, his wife Sue and their two daughters Molly and Emma reside in Waitsfield, Vermont. He is a member of the National Ski Patrol and enjoys sailing in Rhode Island in summer. For information on Discovery Map International, visit

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