Interview: Alyssa Ravasio, Founder & CEO Of Hipcamp
Hipcamp is prime to revolutionize camping. It is a group of talented people on a mission to “get more people outside” by streamlining campground booking and creating a lot of fun in the process. Currently Hipcamp includes campgrounds in seventeen states and counting – it’s even branched out to private land.
No question, Hipcamp is the perfect tool to optimize your weekend: Find a campsite, read reviews, and hit the road!
What lead you to found Hipcamp, a more intuitive way to book campsites?
I decided last minute to spend New Year’s Day watching the sun rise at the ocean. After five painful hours spent trying to piece together fragmented information from across the web, I finally found a campsite by the ocean. But upon arrival, I discovered that despite all the government websites, Yelp reviews, and blogs I’d read, somehow I missed the most important part — this campground (Andrew Molera Trail Camp) was home to a beautiful point breaking wave, and my board was four hours north in San Francisco.
Instead of spending New Year’s Day feeling inspired by the sunrise, I sat on the beach watching this beautiful wave and wishing I had my board. Driving home that day I was thinking about how California State Parks were threatening to shut down 30% of their park system due to lack of revenue, and suddenly it hit me – if I built an easier way for people to find and book camping, then more people would get outside and the parks could stay open. Hell, maybe we could even create more parks!
You knew that in order to “fix” the current camping system, you’d need to know how to code. Was it challenging to learn this new language?
Definitely. Luckily, I had the support of an amazing community and world class teachers at Dev Bootcamp. For me, coding is a practice, like yoga or surfing. It is a skill I can eternally improve, an art form so infinitely complex that it cannot be mastered. I find deep peace in these practices because there is no pressure of an endpoint, just a lifetime of working towards mastery. The path is the goal.
Why do you think young people are gravitating towards the outdoors (seemingly) more so than ever?
I think there’s a big movement happening, one that’s being driven by a desire to reconnect with the land where we came from. We’re in the “information age,” each of our brains are being bombarded with a constantly skyrocketing volume of information every day. Being outdoors is the shavasana of our life, it gives us space to center ourselves and time to integrate all that we’ve learned. My friend Charles Post told me he thinks we’re seeing the rebirth of transcendentalism, and I completely agree.
What are some of your first memories of camping?
I grew up camping every year with a group of family friends at Hendy Woods State Parks. I remember catching lizards, snakes, and toads and building an awesome mud slide. I remember how easy it was to grow close to my friends out there, under the stars and away from the stress of school.
What role does social media play in our outdoor experience?
The explosion of camera phones and social media has a ton to do with why more people are (seemingly) getting out there. When you see your friends climbing a sweet wall or camping out on an oceanside bluff, you feel a pull to get out there – and then you do. Social media provides a very refreshing, relevant and authentic portrayal of the outdoors. It can be starkly contrasted with the more aspirational and intimidating imagery that outdoor brands have tended to favor. I think there’s a huge difference there – inspirational (I can do that! I should do that!) vs. aspirational (woah… I wish I could do that).
Hipcamp is truly different (for the better). Do you have any examples of personal responses to the site that enhanced a camper’s experience?
This is probably my favorite:
“I’d like to take this opportunity to… express my gratitude for bringing such an essential resource to life. Not only did Hipcamp save me from spending even more frustrating hours wading through Reserve America and looking up private campsites all over the North Bay, but it ultimately led me to a midnight “Star Party” at the Robert Ferguson Observatory at the top of Sugarloaf Ridge on the Summer Solstice. It was one of my favorite camping trips ever. I saw the rings of Saturn. It wouldn’t have even been on my radar if I hadn’t just found your site.”
Hipcamp started in California and currently includes 17 other states. Do you foresee it covering the whole US?
Absolutely, in fact we’re shooting for full national coverage by mid-summer 2015. Our data lead Alex, our content lead Julie, and our incredible 30 person freelance writing team have been smashing this out of the park!
What advice do you have for entrepreneurial women in the outdoor industry?
They call it Mother Nature for a reason! Get out there. We’re naturals.
I am inspired by all the awesome women who are making waves in the outdoor industry – Mackenzie O’Donnell of Mendocino Magic, Dalia Burde of Avocados & Coconuts, Sasha Cox of Trail Mavens, Jeanine Pesce of Range, Julie Murrell of Hipcamp, Kenzie Benesh of Alite, Jess Wahl of Outdoor Industry Association, Michelle Rose of Struktur, Andrea Westerlind of Westerlind, Julie Atherton of JAM Collective, Langely McNeal of Summit, so many more, and of course – She Explores!
It’s important that we connect and support each other. This industry has been dominated by men far too long. #GirlPower [Editor Note – yes! Support, not compete]
Where’s your next outdoor adventure?
This weekend I am heading to the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra for a night kayak in the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay and some solid hammock camping. Our buddies gave us some sweet Kammoks and I can’t wait to try them out!