The Kickstarter project is now live at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1205234201/campthat-a-web-platform-for-insanely-great-camping
The Story Behind Campthat
Any of the 40 million Americans who camp each year probably knows the frustration that comes with planning camping trips. Technology has changed a lot during the last 15 years but technology in the camping industry has changed very little. Information about places to camp is still tedious and time consuming to find. Simple tasks like trying to find a place to camp that has showers or has vacancies next weekend can be infuriating.
Campthat was created by 2 outdoor enthusiasts, hackers, and technologists who wanted to solve this problem. It is a first-of-its-kind technology for one simple purpose: discovering great places to camp - with happiness and fun instead of tedium. Campthat’s increasingly intelligent software lives on Amazon’s web servers and you’ll be able to use it at its website (campthat.com) and soon the app for iPhone and Android.
You can play with the Michigan prototype website at campthat.com (but if you do, keep in mind it’s just a 1st cut, not the final product).
40 million Americans: We want to get Campthat into the hands of 30 to 40 million people during the next few years.
Decoding the “camping genome”. Campthat is collecting thousands of data points about every campground and major camping travel destination in the US. We think that just like organisms have DNA that describes their structure, places have underlying structures that we can decode using a combination of software and human judgment. That will let us capture all of the relevant information about camping searches and provide users with information that’s always relevant, intuitive, complete, and valuable.
Changing Social Travel: As much as 20% of all US travel involves camping, so Campthat is reinventing a significant slice of the travel/tourism industry in the US.
Changing Search: We’re part of a new wave of startups competing with major search engines by owning our very focused niche. By focusing on camping, we can collect more detailed/focused/relevant information and provide capabilities engines like Google and Bing do not have.
Rethinking Big Data: While other companies are focusing on “Big Data”, we’re placing our bets on what we’re calling “Nano Data”: collecting every piece of relevant information about a niche (camping) and building specialized software that excels at understanding and leveraging that data for the benefit the people and enterprises in our niche.
Bigger than Yelp? The Outdoor Industry Association sized the camping industry at $125 billion in 2011. We think the first company that builds a popular web platform in the camping space will be big on the scale of public companies like Yelp.
Beyond camping. Camping is just the beginning. When people camp, their campsite is a basecamp for other outdoor activities: hiking, running, kayaking, and more. Once we have camping down pat, we’ll expand to include other outdoor places.
The Kickstarter Project
Timeline: Starts the Wednesday after Labor Day (Sept. 4, 2013) Will run for 30 or 35 days.
The project is raising money to meet the following goals:
- Expand to all 50 states by Spring 2014 (Campthat’s rough prototype launched in June only in Michigan)
- Complete and roll out the mobile app for iPhone and Android by Spring 2014
- $50,000 Reach Goal - Beautiful campground maps: We’ll create beautiful, interactive maps of each campground, its campsites, and maybe even nearby trails, activities, and points of interest.
- $100,000 Reach Goal - Real-time reservation information:Campthat will provide real-time information about which campsites are available on what dates (at least for all of the campgrounds that will cooperate with us and allow us to do it).
- $500,000 Reach Goal - Photos, reviews, & tips for every campground: We’ll send people out into the field to ensure that every campground has photos, reviews, tips, and complete information easily accessible online.
Product Feature Highlights
- Puts camping information all in one place (virtually every US campground)
- Collects thousands of data points about each campground to provide relevant information including photos, popularity, maps, and predictions about whether the campground will have vacancies
- Makes it easy to find campgrounds that have what you’re looking for: like showers or a beach on Lake Michigan
- Perfect for roadtrips: Easily find campgrounds when you’re on the go
- Intuitive design: Find what you need in 3 clicks or less
- Camping is social — so is Campthat. See where friends have camped, share information, plan trips together easily, and earn rewards by sharing what you know.
- Personalized recommendations & content. Campthat will learn what you like, recommend campgrounds based on your personal preferences, and show you information that is relevant to you.
- Optimized for camping happiness. Everyone on the Campthat team is a camper - we’re building the app we’ve always wanted - for campers, by campers.
Campthat learns to think like you do. By analyzing the way that large numbers of people search for campgrounds and use camping information, Campthat is learning to see things from the perspective of the people who use it. For example, it is learning what the top travel destinations in Michigan are and what users tend to want from campgrounds near that destination. It will learn that Sasquatch prefers campgrounds with good tent camping and lots of privacy, so when Sasquatch makes future searches, it will emphasize campgrounds with those traits.
Taking geo-locational information to the next level. Campthat’s focus on camping lets it go beyond apps like Foursquare. For example, Foursquare highlights certain words that people talk about. But we predict that Campthat will not only highlight certain words that people use to describe the campground but tailor content to each users’ preferences. For example, if Campthat learns that you are a hiking enthusiast, then Campthat will highlight information about hiking near the campground and de-prioritize other information that is less relevant to you.
- Basic mobile app ($2.00)
- Campthat Pro ($10.00; 2 years; discount from the eventual retail price)
- Early access + Pro Access + Laptop Sticker ($25.00)
- Be a developer: Access to the development blog + Pro Access + developer T-Shirt ($50.00)
- Send a camping/outdoors image & a Campthat designer will transform it into a one-of-a-kind design on a hoodie, print, or T-shirt (+ Pro Access; $300)
- Backstage pass ($1,000)
- Camp with the founders ($10,000)
- Choose which state Campthat comes to next ($10,000)
If you have any questions or want to talk, you are welcome to contact Campthat co-founder Brian Flaherty:
(Note: To avoid spam, Brian will probably redact his contact information from this post after a few weeks.)