Editor’s note: The following is an opinion piece on Hipcamp appearing in Forbe’s authored by contributor Drew Marshall. For the full story, click here.
When Forbes last spoke with one of the leaders from Hipcamp they had just completed their initial round of seed funding and had plans to expand their scope of providing quality camping experiences across the USA. They had just launched, creating a platform to provide access to a limited number of campsites for reservations in California. The seed funding was a great success in September 2014.
A recent followup conversation with CEO Alyssa Ravasio revealed a wholly different set of circumstances. Hipcamp, at the time of the Forbes interview, provided reservations for 198,003 camp sites through 5,399 campgrounds and 1,476 parks across 29 US states. By the time you read this their scope will have expanded to all 50 states. At the same time, like all true entrepreneurs, the team at Hipcamp has been shaking the establishment’s tree.
Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.
Just in time for the Independence Day holiday weekend in the USA, Hipcamp launched the first ever Land Sharing Program. This program seeks to unlock value contained in underutilized property by granting landowners a low-impact revenue stream. The first piece of land available, called Heart of the Wild, is in Big Sur and it has the only swimmable lake in the area. I was told it is a great spot for larger groups.
Campers will now have new options for camping in a previously crowded marketplace. Rather than chasing down the established players, Hipcamp is seeking to create whole new markets by solving campers’ biggest problems: availability and privacy. These newly open lands are secluded, single use, and offer access to vistas and environments that have been untapped.
Who knows whether Hipcamp will be able to successfully carve out a niche by opening up how we think about the camping experience? If their asset-less, technology-based peers are any indication—those providing indescribably thin layers that sit on top of vast supply systems and provide access to a large number of users—they should be fine. After all, with about 45 million campers annually there’s definitely a market to serve.
For the full story, click here.