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This New App Wants to Be the Uber of Camping

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by BassTrackerBoats, May 18, 2017.

  1. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Super Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I'm sure that Bloomberg means Airbnb and not Uber but the concept is a good twist on a successful enterprise.

    This is well thought out, a niche that people are really passionate about participating in, and has generated over 4 million in revenue inside of just one year.

    Just don’t call it "glamping."

    According to a report by the Outdoor Foundation, Americans log 598 million nights a year under the stars. At an average of $40 in expenses and fees per night, that’s $24 billion spent on campsites alone. Add in all the related costs—gear, transportation, food—and the Outdoor Industry Association figures the industry generates closer to $167 billion annually.

    But former investment banker Michael D’Agostino, who grew up camping on a farm in Litchfield, Conn., still calls the industry a broken business.

    The tipping point came a few summers ago, when D’Agostino found himself on vacation “directly across from a campsite of 40 people at a Wiccan convention: robes and UFO spotters and streaking and all.” It wasn’t what he’d imagined as a quiet weekend with his wife—counting stars, listening to crickets, bellies full from prime steaks grilled over a man-made fire. “We definitely took them up on some mead,” he said of the Wiccans, “but we had to keep the dog in the tent—she was going bonkers—and it was kind of like camping in Times Square.”

    The experience led him to create Tentrr, a free iPhone app that takes the guesswork out of camping. It lets users find and instantly book fully private campsites in vetted, bucolic settings, all within a few hours’ drive of major cities. The sites themselves are all custom-designed by D’Agostino and follow a standardized footprint: They consist of hand-sewn canvas expedition tents from Colorado, set on an elevated deck with Adirondack chairs. You’re also guaranteed to find Brazilian wood picnic tables and sun showers strewn around the campsites, as well as portable camping toilets, fire pits, cookware, and grills. As for the sleeping arrangements? Air mattresses with featherbed toppers, not sleeping bags, are the name of the game.

    Tentrr beta-launched last summer with just 50 campsites in New York state, while D’Agostino figured out how to get liability insurers on board with his slice of the sharing economy. Despite the soft opening, the app has already logged $4 million in funding and 1,500 bookings—40 percent of them by people who’d never gone camping before.

    In the days leading up to Memorial Day, Tentrr will move past its beta phase with a newly expanded collection of roughly 150 campsites spread across the U.S. Northeast. By July 4 an additional 100 sites will gradually come online, not including a 50-site expansion into the Pacific Northwest. Next year, D’Agostino plans to tackle the “San Francisco-Yosemite corridor, the American Southwest, and counterclockwise around the perimeter of the U.S., all within a few hours of major metropolitan cities, until all of the country’s top-50 hubs are served.” His ultimate vision, however, is global.

    The trick, said D’Agostino, is shifting campers away from national or state parks and working instead with private landowners. Among his campsite keepers are a set of fourth-generation dairy farmers, a contractor who runs a recording studio in his barn, and an “unnamed” actress with expansive property in New York’s Hudson Valley. All have dozens, if not hundreds, of acres to spare—making them perfect for Tentrr’s semipermanent campsites. (The tents are heated by cylinder stoves through November; after the camping season ends, either the tent keepers or Tentrr employees dismantle the sites and put them into weatherproof storage.)

    It sounds limited, but Tentrr is setting up 10 to 20 campsites per week, with tent keepers paying a one-time, $1,500 membership fee to join. (It covers the setup of their site, which itself is valued at $6,000.) “We’ve been spreading by word-of-mouth like wildfire,” said D’Agostino. “We set up one camp, and one turns into 30.” But he’s wary of expanding too quickly and is limiting his company’s growth to no more than 35 new campsites per week—an effort to ensure demand continually outpaces supply.

    Including a 15 percent booking fee, the average eight-person Tentrr campsite costs $144—a steal or a splurge, depending on how you look at it. That number is more than three times the industry average, but the tents require no setup, and some are even stocked with Frette linens.

    A cut of the profit goes to the landowners—last year the average tent keeper made $6,000 from June to Thanksgiving. Add the cost of gas, groceries, and supplies, and D’Agostino estimates that for every 100 Tentrr sites, $1 million will be injected into the local economy.

    For those who aren’t keen on a weekend full of endless Kumbayas, Tentrr is also in the business of connecting campers with local activities. When selecting a campsite, for instance, users can screen for locations that have access to wineries, swimming holes, horseback riding, or skeet shooting, among other pursuits. And soon the app will offer an application programming interface (API) to local vendors who’d like to sell these types of services directly to Tentrr’s adventurers.

    “If you want to have a very posh weekend in the woods, you can do that,” said D’Agostino. “Or if you want to fish for your dinner and cook it over a campfire, you can do that. We’ll give you the tools and the setting to do whatever will make you relax and recharge and reconnect.” Perhaps that’s why his app has drawn bookings from radically different types of travelers: honeymooners, billionaires-turned-Tentrr-investors, Brooklyn-based hipsters, and (least surprisingly) onetime Eagle Scouts.

    Just don’t call it glamping. “My mother told me I should never use the word ‘hate,’ but I hate the word ‘glamping,’” D’Agostino said. “It implies a certain bourgeois quality where a butler shows up with a silver tray of croissants. Camping is supposed to be a rustic experience.”

    His version of luxury consists of having acres and acres of land all to yourself—truly breaking with your busy, urban existence. That doesn’t just mean reconnecting with nature. For D’Agostino, camping is wrapped up with a bit of self-discovery, too. “We want you to go home to your city apartment with a real sense of accomplishment … maybe even feeling a little like Bear Grylls.”

    Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/arti...ury-campsites-with-tentrr-the-uber-of-camping
     
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  2. Inception_AC

    Inception_AC Jr. Executive VIP

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    Awesome Idea!

    I would love to be as forward thinking as this haha
     
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  3. Reaver

    Reaver Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    That's amazing.

    I love that he saw a problem in a niche he's passionate about and offered a solution.

    And $144 for an 8-person campsite is hella cheap. Look at what you're getting. You'll pay way more than that renting a cabin for the weekend.

    Still doesn't make me want to go campung though.
     
  4. MisterF

    MisterF Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Me neither,

    I think it's like picnics. You either buy the food prepared or make it at home in the kitchen, put it into bags and baskets, drive somewhere and then lay a blanket on the hard ground to eat. Here you also run the risk of ants, flies, wasps and other creepies spoiling your meal.

    Much easier to go out to a restaurant or sit at home to eat :) :)
     
  5. Reaver

    Reaver Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    It's really gross in the summertime. I don't like the sun anyway so once it starts rising I lock myself in my house until it goes down.

    I've found that I function better between 4 and 6am as far as going outside goes. Anything after that is a cointoss, and chances are I'm gonna be cranky af once it starts getting hot.

    Furniture and air conditioning all the way.
     
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  6. reliablecontent

    reliablecontent Registered Member

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    Are you me? I'm pretty sure we would be best friends if we met in the real world.
     
  7. radiant13

    radiant13 Power Member

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    Nah, not rough enough for me. Took up backpacking last year Memorial Day weekend. Go a few hours out on any High Sierra trail there are no crowds. Looking forward to doing more up there this year but with all the snowfall this past winter can't go til the snow melts because you can't see the trail when covered by snow...maybe by Labor day...hope not.
     
  8. BassTrackerBoats

    BassTrackerBoats Super Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I'll go with you if the places you camp at have a big sign out front that says, "Marriott".
     
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  9. WPRipper

    WPRipper Supreme Member

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    These days every app want to be a 'uber' of something :)
     
  10. Reaver

    Reaver Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    You a Blues fan?
     
  11. reliablecontent

    reliablecontent Registered Member

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    Painfully so
     
  12. Reaver

    Reaver Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Do you have a ridiculous amount of disdain for Blackhawk and Cubs fans?
     
  13. Capo Dei Capi

    Capo Dei Capi BANNED BANNED

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    What is the point of going camping at that point, its almost as bad as RV campers. The whole point of camping is to go out and setup stuff yourself.
     
  14. pasdoy

    pasdoy Power Member

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    Hope it will work well for him. I see concepts like these all around where I live, it might work well in the end.
     
  15. bmanfacts

    bmanfacts Junior Member

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    It doesn't take too much to be innovative nowadays. There's opportunity around us all and it just takes looking for it.

    The job is even easier when we care for a thing.

    Excellent share
     
  16. radiant13

    radiant13 Power Member

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    Will have to drop you off in South Lake Tahoe, there's nice Marriott resort there. Where I go the signs say Wilderness.
     
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  17. reliablecontent

    reliablecontent Registered Member

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    Not so much their fans, but the teams themselves lol

    Nashville Predators fans on the other hand....
     
  18. Floopa75

    Floopa75 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    One of the worst names I've ever heard lol, "Ten-cherr"