In today’s connected world, with phones ringing and buzzing and emails constantly flowing in, unplugging and getting back into nature for a few days each year should be a required activity. Turns out, however, that finding a campsite based on any specific search criteria is a horrible process.
That’s where Hipcamp comes in. The company has just raised a $2 million seed round led by O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Slow Ventures, with participation from Sam Shank, Gregg Brockway, AngelList’s Syndicate Fund and Maiden Lane Ventures.
Hipcamp is the first comprehensive search platform for campsites, letting users search based on amenities (like picnic tables, running water, rv hookup, etc), features (caves, oceans, lakes) and activities (biking, surfing, boating).
“Camping was always a part of my life growing up,” said Hipcamp cofounder Alyssa Ravasio. “A few years ago, when I tried to plan a camping trip on my own for the first time for New Years Eve, it was absurdly difficult to find a campsite with an ocean view to watch the sunrise. Before you can search anything, you have to choose which government agency you want to camp with, then search Flickr photos and Yelp reviews to find out details. I knew I could solve this problem.”
By manually researching and gathering publicly available info from government and park websites, Hipcamp has created the first searchable, comprehensive database of campsites.
Right now, the service is only available in California, but the company plans on meeting expressed demand in New York and Texas soon. The new funding will obviously go toward expansion, as well as another obstacle.
Right now, the federal government has a contract with a single software company for all camping bookings across the nation. The contract is due to expire and be re-drafted by the Department of the Interior (very soon), with a push from companies like Hipcamp to include an open API in the contract, to break open the monopoly and let an ecosystem bloom around camping bookings.
“It’s our number one request from users, to be able to book directly on the website, and we’re working on it,” said Ravasio. “This is part of why we were so excited to have OATV lead the round. Tim O’Reilly has so much experience working with the government and we need that to push this piece of the business through.”
But either way, the site is fully functional as a search tool and gives complete information for more than 16k campsites, including updated availability information on a per-night basis.
If you want to learn more about Hipcamp, check out the website here.