Startup of the week:
Who they are: Hipcamp
What they do: Connect rural landowners with campers looking for a spot to pitch a tent that’s off the beaten trail
Why it’s cool: If you’ve ever tried to book a campsite at a popular Northern California campground in the busy summer months, you understand how frustrating the experience can be. Prime spots fill up six months in advance, often the very minute they open reservations online. As travel writer Betsy Malloy put it in a recent post on tripsavvy.com: “you have to plan farther ahead for next year’s camping trip than you would for an African safari.”
San Francisco-based Hipcamp is trying to take the headache out of planning a camping trip by turning more places into campgrounds. Sure, you can use the site to book a space at a public park, but you can also reserve a corner of a private ranch, vineyard, farm or rural backyard. No tent? Prefer glamping? No problem. Reserve a spot that comes with a yurt or a treehouse.
“It just makes getting outside a lot simpler for people, and in many cases, more relevant,” said founder and CEO Alyssa Ravasio.
Hipcamp launched in 2013 as a reservation platform for public camp grounds, and expanded into private land in 2015. Landowners who list their properties on the site receive $2 million in liability insurance to protect them in case a guest falls during a hike or has some other mishap during his or her stay.
Where they stand: Hipcamp grew its number of campsites by 10 times this year compared to the year before. The platform now lists 15,000 sites, including 400 in and around the Bay Area. Campers can pitch a tent in a lush garden in Bolinas in Marin County, book a yurt on an old tennis court in Mare Island Preserve in Vallejo or reserve a treehouse in Petaluma.
What will they think of next?
Are you worried your Airbnb guests are running amok? Or are neighbors complaining about your loud parties? If so, NoiseAware says it has the solution. The company, which calls its service the “smoke detector for noise,” uses its sensors to monitor decibel levels at your property and alert you if things get too loud.
On the company’s website, CEO David Krauss says he started the company after renting his condo on Airbnb to a guest who had a “rager,” angering his neighbors, prompting a cease-and-desist letter from his building, and ultimately forcing him to sell the property.
Prices for the NoiseAware system range from $149 per year for a condo, to $399 for an “estate.” Learn more at noiseaware.io.
Run the numbers:
If you’re a man, unless you’re abnormally attractive, you may be better off not wasting your time on the dating app Tinder, according to a recent study posted on Medium and picked up by CB Insights. The researcher, who goes by the online handle Worst-Online-Dater, used a quantitative socio-economic study to determine the bottom 80 percent of men (ranked in terms of physical attractiveness) are competing for the bottom 22 percent of women. The top 78 percent of women are competing for the top 20 percent of men.
Many Silicon Valley tech leaders are speaking out against President Donald Trump’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and Uber Chief Technology Officer Thuan Pham, an immigrant himself, recently added his voice.
In a blog post, Pham recounted leaving Vietnam with his mother and brother when he was 10 years old, and crossing to Malaysia in a fishing boat crammed with 470 other people, and no life jackets. His family ultimately was rejected from Malaysia and had to travel to Indonesia, and then the U.S., where they started their lives over “with empty hands.”
“Immigrants often risk their lives for a chance at freedom and opportunity, and our country remains the world’s beacon of freedom and opportunity,” he wrote. “Immigrants have built and contributed to America since its very beginning, and are at the center of our social fabric and economic prosperity. My heart breaks to see so many people who are in the same situation today that I was in many years ago.”
Photo: Hipcamp users can pitch their tent in this private flower garden in the coastal town of Bolinas in Marin County. Hipcamp lets rural landowners rent out pieces of their land to campers looking for a unique camping experience, or fed up with the high demand for spots in California’s public parks. (Courtesy of Hipcamp)