Uber for camping? This new app wants to help you get away

Image: Shutterstock/ Jacob Lund

According to a report by the Outdoor Foundation, Americans log 598 million nighttimes a yearunder the stars. At an average of $40 in overheads and costs per darknes, thats $24 billion spent on campsites alone. Add inall the related costsgear, transportation, foodand the Outdoor Industry Association figures the industrygenerates closer to $167 billion annually.

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

The tip-off point went a few summertimes ago, when DAgostino met himself on vacation directly across from a campsite of 40 people at a Wiccan convention: robes and UFO spotters and streaking and all. It wasnt what hed seen as a quiet weekend with his wifecounting aces, listening to crickets, bellies full from prime steaks grilled over a man-made fire. We emphatically took them up on some mead, he mentioned of the Wiccans, but we had to keep the dog in the tentshe was going bonkersand it was kind of like camping in Times Square.

Image: Tertius Bune for Tentrr

The experience contributed him to establish Tentrr, a free iPhone app that takes the guesswork out of camping. It lets users find and instantaneously volume fully private campsites in vetted, bucolic situates, all within a few hours drive of major metropolitans. The websites themselves are all custom-designed by DAgostino and follow a standardized footprint: They consist of hand-sewn canvas safarus tents from Colorado, set on an heightened deck with Adirondack chairs. Youre likewise guaranteed to find Brazilian wood picnic tables and sun showers strewn all over the campsites, as well as portable camping lavatories, fire cavities, cookware, and grills. As for the sleeping arrangements? Air mattresses with featherbed toppers , not sleeping bags, are the name of the game.

Scaling Up

Tentrr beta-launched last-place summer with only 50 campsites in New York state, while DAgostino figured out how to get liability insurers on board with his slice of the sharing economy. Despite the soft opening, the app have so far been logged$ 4 million in funding and 1,500 bookings4 0 percent of them by people whod never gonecamping before.

In the working day leading up toMemorial Day, Tentrr will move pastits beta stage with a freshly expanded collection of roughly 150 campsites spread across the U.S.Northeast. By July 4 an additional1 00 websites will gradually come online , not including a 50 -site expansion into the Pacific Northwest. Next year, DAgostino 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 metropolitans, until all of the two countries top-5 0 hubs are served. His ultimate vision, however, is global.

Image: Tertius Bune for Tentrr

The trick, mentioned DAgostino, is changing campers away from national or state parksand working instead with private owners. Among his campsitekeepers are a given of fourth-generation dairy farmers, a contractor who runs a recording studio in his barn, and an unnamed actress with expansive belonging in New YorksHudson Valley. All have dozens, if not hundreds, of acres to sparemaking them perfect for Tentrrs semipermanent campsites.( The tents are heated by cylinder stoves through November; after the camping season ends, either the tent keepers or Tentrr employeesdismantle the websites and putthem 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.) Weve been spreading by word-of-mouth like wildfire, mentioned DAgostino. We set up one camp, and one turns into 30. But hes wary of expandingtoo quickly and is limiting his companys proliferation to no more than 35 brand-new campsites per weekan effort to ensure demand continually outpaces supply.

How It Makes Money

Including a 15 percent booking fee, the average eight-person Tentrr campsite expenditure $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 profits goes to the landownerslast year the average tent custodian shaped $6,000 from June to Thanksgiving. Add the cost of gas, groceries, and quantities, and DAgostino estimates that for every 100 Tentrr websites,$ 1 million will be injected into the neighbourhood economy.

Image: Tertius Bune for Tentrr

For those who arent keen on a weekend full of endless Kumbayas, Tentrr is also in the business of connecting campers with neighbourhood activities. When selecting a campsite, for example, userscan screen for spots that have access to wineries, swimming holes, horseback riding, or skeet shooting, amongst other pursuits. And soon the app will give an application programming interface( API) to neighbourhood vendors whod like to sell these types of services directly to Tentrrs adventurers.

Find Your Comfort Level

If you want to have a very posh weekend in the woods, you can do that, mentioned DAgostino. Or if you want to fish for your dinner and cook it over a campfire, you can do that. Well give you appropriate tools and the established to do whatever will stir you loosen and recharge and reconnect. Perhaps thats why his app has drawn bookings from radically different types of travelers: honeymooners, billionaires-turned-Tentrr-investors, Brooklyn-based hipsters, and( least amazingly) onetimeEagle Scouts.

Just dont call it glamping. My father told me I should never use the word detest, but I hate the word glamping, DAgostino mentioned. It implies any particular bourgeois character where a butler is demonstrated by with a silver-tongued tray of croissants. Camping is supposed to be a rustic experience.

His version of indulgence consists of having acres and acres of land all to yourselftruly breaking with your busy, urban existence. That doesnt only signify reconnecting with nature. For DAgostino, camping is wrapped up with a little bit of self-discovery, too. We want you to go home to your metropoli apartment with a real appreciation of accomplishment maybe even seeming a little like Bear Grylls.

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