RoverPass, a new technology and outdoor recreation startup based in Austin, Texas, is an online travel agency for action travel. It launched in December 2014, initially opening as an online booking agency for the camping and RV community. RoverPass gives users access to a database of nationwide parks and RV sites, plus the ability to book and reserve private and public campsites directly from their website. According to RoverPass CEO, Ravi Parikh, the whole point of the platform is to make it as easy as possible for consumers to go camping and RVing. The two founders of RoverPass, Jay Manickam and Paul Cross, first thought of the idea after realizing how difficult it was to find an RV Park on their way back from the Burning Man Festival in 2014. It wasn’t until Manickam and Cross, now on the board of advisors, hired Parikh as CEO that they realized the potential for RoverPass to also serve parks by helping them fill inventory. The company now serves a dual purpose: to help campgrounds fill inventory and allow users easily locate and book their next camping trip.
While the platform currently only allows booking for campgrounds and RV sites, it hopes to eventually offer easy booking and reservations for all outdoor travel and recreation activities. “Let’s say you want to go rock climbing, hiking, or kayaking—we want to make it simple check in process,” explains Parikh. “Everything revolves around camping and the outdoors, so that’s why we naturally picked camping as the first step.” For now, the company’s sole focus is to become the easiest and most reliable nationwide booking agency and database for private and public parks and RV campgrounds.
Today RoverPass is working towards a March 2015 launch for booking private and public parks in the state of Texas. After launching in Texas they plan to expand to California and Florida by the Summer of 2015. The RoverPass team currently works out of an office in the trendy and up-and-coming neighborhood of East Austin, Texas with a team over 10 employees and growing.
Check out the RoverPass mission, team, and blog for more information at www.roverpass.com.
Q&A with RoverPass CEO, Ravi Parikh
What is RoverPass?
“RoverPass is an online travel agency for action travel. We’re starting with camping and RV Parks to make it easy for people to book campsites and RV sites when they go camping.”
Why and when did you start RoverPass?
“It was brought to me by two of the other cofounders. When they were leaving Burning Man they were trying to find a place to go RV camping, and they thought it was a big pain to find a spot. They realized, ‘man there should be one place that we can find this information and make online bookings, because right now I’m calling campgrounds trying to find a place to go.’ It was not very convenient. So, that’s when the idea was born.
Where do you see RoverPass in 10 years?
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to book adventure travel. Let’s say you want to go hiking, rock climbing, or kayaking and camping—we think it should be a simple check in, check out process. We want it to be as easy as possible. Everything revolves around camping and outdoors—if you want to hike or rock climb you’ll probably also be camping—so that’s why we naturally picked camping as the first step.”
How do you think it will shape the park and camping industry?
“I think it will give it a lot more visibility. It will make people who don’t necessarily think about going camping or RVing more aware of all these cool options. There are teepees and yurts and tree houses, and there’s glamping and all the state parks with awesome views that you can go to. It will make it more mainstream and more destination heavy. I think camping will become more mainstream because it will become so much easier to do than it is now.”
How will RoverPass benefit all of its users?
“The point of RP is to eliminate the need to call and email and google and search. We want to create a database that has all of the information in one place, and you can make a booking or reservation with just a few clicks.”
How would you say that RoverPass is pushing the envelope? What makes it unique as a company?
“Camping is not a typical industry that you would think technology could go into and disrupt. It’s not a super sexy industry. It’s not like Air B&B, you know? I think camping is just not something that you would relate to technology. Typically, you would go camping to get away from technology, but the number one request at campgrounds now is for wifi, so it’s interesting.”
How did you come up with the name RoverPass?
Paul Cross (Co-founder of RoverPass) responds: “I’ve always been enamored with the word ‘Rover’ it’s both extant and ancient. From 14th century middle English, to wander and to roam. You see there’s this concept that I subscribe to that life is meant to be explored outside. I’m not lost on the irony that I’m a technologist and yet I want to connect people physically together outdoors, away from technology. The ‘Pass’ part was about freedom: it says you can go! The collision of these separate concepts made sense for me as an ideal to convey. I like to say, Roverpass: Go Live!”