Recently, it’s come to my attention that going outdoors and exploring nature can be truly awesome.
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No, it’s not because I’ve actually gone outside. Rather, it stems from hours of screen time tallying funding for outdoorsy-themed startups and staring at websites featuring high-tech campervans, rustic-yet-charming glampsites, and images of people enjoying trees, mountains and lakes.
Yes, yes, I know you probably think startup investors prefer you cooped up inside. You should be spending crypto on NFTs in the metaverse or feeding content to ad-spewing, AI-enabled algorithms. That kind of thing.
But apparently, tech investors also want you to go camping. Of course, you should also plan to rent a travel vehicle through a peer-to-peer RV sharing app. And preferably, reserve an exclusive spot booked through a venture-backed campsite aggregator. But still, go camping.
There’s a lot of money in outdoorsy-themed investments
Apparently, there’s big money in getting you out of the house.
Or at least venture investors seem to think so, judging by the sizable sums startups targeting outdoor recreation-related markets have raised in the past few years.
For a sense of where the money is going, we used Crunchbase data to curate a list of startups that have raised rounds in the past three years with an eye to getting consumers off their screens and outside. Altogether, the 21 companies listed below have raised more than $1 billion to date:
Most of the funding is going to companies helping people figure out how to camp, hike and glamp on dry land, which makes sense as we are land mammals.
On this front, the most prodigious fundraiser is AllTrails, a global aggregator of digital trail guides that picked up $150 million from the growth fund of private equity firm Permira in late 2021. It’s a huge platform, with over 30 million users and more than 300,000 trails spanning everywhere from Algeria to Zambia.
People need a place to sleep too, so startups are also offering up rustic accommodations. San Francisco-based Hipcamp, which connects people with tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses and glamping sites, has raised over $97 million in venture funding to date. And Brooklyn-based Getaway, which has raised over $80 million, operates collections of cabins in country locales that are an easy drive from major cities.
Some of us land mammals prefer accommodations we can drive, which is where our second-biggest funding recipient, RV rental platform Outdoorsy enters the picture. The 9-year-old, Austin, Texas-based company offers a platform for people to rent RVs, camper vans and travel trailers. It’s raised $165 million in equity funding to date
In a similar vein, Akron-based RVshare has pulled in $150 million to date for its peer-to-peer rental marketplace. It says owners of the most high-end RVs can make up to $60,000 per year on its platform.
While most of the biggest rounds date back over a year, we’re also seeing more recent deals in the space. Most recently, Spot2Nite, a marketplace for booking RV campsites, picked up $3 million in an April Series A round. The New Orleans-based company says it wants to make the process of securing a site as consistent and modern as booking a hotel or rental car.
Summer is all about getting wet, be it at the pool, lake, river or beach, and startups are on board with that too.
Among the more heavily funded players in this arena is Swimply, a marketplace for renting private pools by the hour. To date, the 5-year-old, Los Angeles-based company has raised over $60 million.
GetMyBoat, a marketplace for boat rentals, yacht charters and water experiences, is also scaling up with a 2022 Series B bringing total funding to $36 million. For those who want to look stylish in or near the water, meanwhile, there are venture-backed swimwear brands Andie and Left On Friday.
Yes, you could just go outside, but….
Now, of course humans don’t need RVs, booking apps, peer-reviewed trail compendiums, or fashionable gear to go outside. It is possible to just, you know, go outside. Maybe take a hike, build a campfire or pitch a tent if you’re so inclined.
However, there’s not a lot of business model scalability in that. Nor does it produce a high-multiple exit for a venture investor. So next time you are thinking about something as old-school as camping, keep that in mind. Just because your ancestors foraged for sustenance in the wild without the help of marketplace apps doesn’t mean you have to follow in their footsteps.
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Photo: Courtesy of Scott Goodwill via Unsplash.
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