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Episode 69: Leave It Better with Alyssa Ravasio

Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.

This week we're joined by Alyssa Ravasio, founder of Hipcamp! Alyssa talks how she started her business, the things she's learned through entrepreneurship, building a community around a shared interest, and our word of the month, synthesis.

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Photography Program

Jane Kim Art

Follow us: @wheeliecreative

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Episode Transcript

Lisa: What's going on to all those marketing managers and photographers and creative human beings in the outdoor industry.

Iris: Hello, welcome to outside by design. I'm Iris.

Lisa: And I'm Lisa, coming at you from Whitefish, Montana at a creative agency called Wheelie.

Iris: It is December already.

Lisa: I know, it's December. Um, I can't believe it. Q4 is wrapping up. Our 10th year in business is wrapping up. Um, it's been insane. It's been such an exciting year for us at Wheelie and, um, I cannot wait to show you what's dropping in 2020. It's huge. I've been basically like a holed up at my house in the woods. I live in a cabin in the woods in Montana, and I've been like spending my weekends completely redoing the Wheelie website and our offerings and it's... I'm so excited about it. I like literally can't sleep sometimes. So, um. I can't wait to show you what we're dropping in 2020 but you're going to have to wait for that. And meanwhile, how many more episodes are we doing in the podcast before we're taking a little break?

Iris: There are four episodes in December, and then we will be wrapped on season four and then we'll take a break in January and come back in 2020.

Lisa: Yes. With the new vision 2020 plan. That's... Oprah's been talking about that vision 2020, not that we, like-

Iris: It’s definitely 2020 vision.

Lisa: Oh, Oprah has been talking about 2020 vision. Vision 2020.

Iris: [laughs] Entertainment 720.

Lisa: Entertainment 720.

Iris: [laughs] that’s what it makes me think of.

Lisa: Oprah’s talking about 2020 vision. I have the worst vision in the world.

Iris: Yeah, you can't see at all.

Lisa: I'm like a blind golden retriever. Um, but anyway, wait until you see [laughs]

Iris: It's more of a metaphorical 2020 vision....

Lisa: That's why it's Vision 2020.

Iris: … than literal. Okay. Today.

Lisa: [laughs]

Iris: Today we have Alyssa Rivasio on the show. She is the founder of Hipcamp.

Lisa: I loved this conversation. Alyssa is such a large thinker. Um, she thinks on kind of like a global scale, and I can see why Hipcamp exists with her vision. And I'm all about this conversation. This is one of my favorite episodes of the whole year.

Iris: And not only does Alyssa talk about founding Hipcamp and their values and how they work out all of the difficulties of running basically an online marketplace - she also talks about our new word of the month, which is…

Robot voice: Synthesis.

Iris: Synthesis.

Lisa: Synthesis, which means the combination of ideas to form a theory or system or the production of chemical compounds by reaction from simpler materials - well, that’s boring cause we don't talk about science as much.

Iris: Yeah, I think she's going to focus on the first definition. And Alyssa talks a lot about synthesis that comes up a few times in this podcast. So it's a great word of the month and a great episode to kick that word of the month off.

Lisa: Yeah.

Iris: So let's get to it.

Lisa: Um, Alyssa. Thank you so much for being here today and I'm so excited to have you on the podcast.

Alyssa: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Lisa: The first question we ask everyone is to describe where they are and what they're looking at.

Alyssa: So I am in my office, uh, we work in downtown San Francisco, which is quite a juxtaposition for an outdoors company. And I'm looking at a couple of things. Um, I'm looking at an amazing salvage Redwood table we got made by some local artisans that really reminds me of the beauty of the nature, even when I'm at Fifth and Mission in downtown San Francisco. Um, I'm looking at a cool little succulent garden I built in a hollowed-out log that keeps me close to nature while I'm here.

And then I'm also looking at an amazing… a full building size Monarch butterfly mural by an artist named, I believe Jane... oh, I'm trying to remember her last name, but she's an incredible muralist and she's actually, um, painting these Monarch butterfly murals across the entire migratory path of the butterfly. And I believe we've lost about 90% of the Monarch butterfly population just in the last decade or two. And I think her work is really drawing attention to, you know, some of the big decisions we face as a culture right now.

Lisa: Wow, that was an amazing answer.

Alyssa: [laughs] Thanks. I'm a very visual person, so I'm always making sure I'm staring at... staring at beautiful things. And that the artist's name is Jane Kim. She's an amazing, um, just does amazing, amazing work.

Lisa: That's cool, we will put a link to her in the show notes.

Alyssa: Cool.

Lisa: So you started Hipcamp. Um, there is quite a bit of media out there where you go into detail on that, but for our creative audience, um, yeah. Do you want to just talk about how you had an idea and knew you needed to do something and actually put it into action?

Alyssa: I think, you know, the important part of understanding, kind of, the decision I made to start Hipcamp was that I really knew I wanted to start something. Um, I'm fairly unemployable, I would say, I didn't have an easy time as it- of it as an employee. I'd actually got fired three times from the two jobs I had after college, before Hipcamp. So. I think that record speaks for itself. So, you know, I knew I wanted to start something that I could really own and, and run and make decisions around. Um, but I didn't know what. And the decision to start Hipcamp when I made it, while terrifying on so many levels was also very easy because I had seen this really big, really obvious problem that I felt fairly confident I could solve. And particularly that problem was, it was just so hard to find a great place to go camping. And I think for me, why I knew it was something I was going to be excited to spend, you know, if things go well, decades of my life working on was that not only was it a real problem that I knew people experienced, that I experienced, but also that it was one that felt worth solving.

I knew that when I spent time outside, I felt happier and healthier. And just, it was where I always kind of have realized what mattered and what doesn't. It's where I developed a lot of kind of confidence in myself. And so the idea of, you know, making the outdoors something more people can enjoy and have an easier time getting, um, to be a part of was a really obvious thing that I knew was kind of worth my, my time. As far as we know, we only live once. So I think, you know, for me, knowing that what I'm spending my time on is really the right thing was... has been just a huge part of staying motivated through all the incredible challenges and hardships that come along with starting any business.

Lisa: Absolutely. And I love your just, natural ability to think globally. Um, like, where does that come from?

Alyssa: Interesting. I'm not... I guess I'm not sure. I think, you know, I've always been very influenced by the Whole Earth Catalog. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that publication, but, um, it was started by a man named Stewart Brand, and Stewart kind of made his claim to fame by, um, campaigning Congress in the early seventies to get NASA - which was, you know, a new, new thing that we had satellites up in space - to take a photo of the whole earth.

The theory being that if people on the planet could see the whole earth, uh, we would have this moment of just realizing, hey, we are all in this together. You know, nation-state borders actually are kind of stories that we tell ourself and we better all get along and kind of snap out of a lot of this kind of, uh, nationalism and war thinking that, you know, characterize a lot of that time is the Vietnam war ending and all that. And, um... still continues to this day in a lot of ways. So I think that, you know, reading that publication and really thinking about the whole earth as a single, uh, entity or even organism has just been something that I've always had in my mind.

I guess I got to credit my mom there. She's always kind of introduced me to all sorts of funky, cool seventies counterculture stuff, like the Whole Earth Catalog or Buckminster Fuller. And a lot of his theories around, um, just kind of the, he calls it Spaceship Earth. So the whole earth being the spaceship, we all are in charge of flying together. Um, so I think I've always, always kind of thought of the planet as a single, a single thing that we're all, we're all part of.

Lisa: That sounds amazing. And it also ties in really directly with the word of the month on our podcast, which is synthesis.

Alyssa: Yeah.

LIsa: Um, the combination of ideas to form a theory or system. So, I mean, what, what do you think of when you hear the word synthesis? What does that mean to you?

Alyssa: It's a great word. Um, and one that I think we need to keep in mind a lot more often. So I'm very glad it’s your word of the month, um. You know, I think for any entrepreneur, you know, um, whether it's a nonprofit or a company or even just an initiative that you're starting, um, normally that is a result of some form of synthesis, right? You've seen different data points. Um, maybe everything from, you know, a certain, uh, Excel document with really compelling data. But then you also heard a story from a customer, but then you also, kind of, through your own lived experience, realized they're really, um, you know, important truth.

Bringing all of those data points together is really what I think, you know, any successful entrepreneur has to do to, basically to see something that others haven't, right? That's what really lies at the core of successful entrepreneurship in my mind is, you know, you have to see something others haven't, because if there is... if other people had seen it and it's a good idea and it can be profitable, arguably it will, it would have been done by now.

Um, and so I think kind of pulling together various things to synthesize a single idea iss, um, really at the crux of entrepreneurship. And really I think a lot of what we need as a broader culture as well, right now, I think there's so much incredible, um, advancements and progress that science, Western science, has brought to us, but it's also led us to really want to put things in their, you know, very specific categories and subcategories of categories. And it leads to, I think, um, fragmented thinking and not a lot of collaboration across things like math and English, which should obviously be collaborating all the time, in my opinion.

And so, um, as an example, at university, I actually ended up creating a major because I was so frustrated at how narrow the traditional majors seemed. I wanted to study the internet and I was obsessed with the internet and I was like, well, I obviously need to combine classes from, you know, as far ranging as communications to computer science to anthropology, um, to art and design. And I want to study all of those things, um, and synthesize them into a single theory that essentially the internet is the most powerful technology we've created, uh, since language. And it's going to completely reshape our entire society. So we should probably understand, you know, as deeply as we can, how it works and, and what impact is likely to have and how to influence that.

Lisa: Wow. That's amazing. So is your degree, like, what's the formal title? Not The Internet.

Alyssa: No, not The Internet. Um, you know, it's funny, I tried to call it the Interlightenment because I, I had this theory that much like the printing press had catalyzed the Enlightenment, um, that the internet was going to catalyze the interlightment, but my professors were like, no, that's not… You need to be able to be employable after this. Like, no one's going to take you seriously if that's your degree. So it's called Digital Democracy, which is also, I think, a fine way to talk about what I was studying, which was essentially that, um, you know, my theory of the internet is that it really has a very democratizing force. It democratizes access to information and resources and each other, and, um, study that across business as well as media and government.

Lisa: Wow.

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Lisa: Wow. I think that we are all going to need bigger hats because Alyssa just made all our brains so much bigger. That was some serious knowledge bombs.

Iris: Yeah. Alyssa loves our word of the month, synthesis, and I think she definitely embodies it as an entrepreneur and as just a global citizen. Um, that skill is so unique to be able to synthesize ideas from all sorts of different subjects and areas of study and take, um, inspiration from all those areas and combine all of that data into something usable.

Lisa: Yes, I totally respect how Alyssa talks about seeing data points and hearing the story and turning that into an experience so that it turns into something that becomes a little bit more global and bigger than what one person sees that others haven't. And it kind of goes into expansion and, um, I'm all about it. I'm so impressed by everything Alyssa has created.

Iris: Let's hear more from Alyssa and her experience as an entrepreneur.

Lisa: So you came up with this idea and you knew that, that you had the internet as a platform to solve this problem. Um, so did, were you starting coding in college? I know you, you, you actually coded the very first iteration of Hipcamp, right?

Alyssa: I did. It was not easy. Um, I did a little coding in college, basic HTML and CSS. So really just kind of moving, um, elements around on a, on a basic webpage. Um, I stopped for a couple of years. Um, and then actually right when I had the idea for Hipcamp, um, I had enrolled in a boot camp, so it was a three month long Learn How to Code programming boot camp. And that ended up being an incredible experience. I was kind of going to it, thinking I probably wasn't going to love it, but it was important to learn ‘cause I knew I wanted to start the company. Um, and I ended up actually loving it. So it was a really great program in that so much of the process of learning how to code is just being okay feeling really dumb every day.

You just... it's like, as adults, I think we actually go to great lengths to not... to put ourselves in situations where we're going to succeed and do something we're good at. And learning how to code is like being okay being in kindergarten again and you know, not understanding the name, the names on the color wheel. And, and that's a hard, very humbling experience to go through as an adult. And so going through that with a community of students and with the support of our teachers, um, I think just really was a, a fun and powerful experience for me that ultimately gave me enough skills to hobble together a very basic version of Hipcamp, um, back when we started.

Lisa: Wow. And then how did it, how did it grow from there as far as creative process goes?

Alyssa: So I've always looked at Hipcamp as something and I'm really co-creating with our community. Because it's something that, you know, was really designed to solve people's problems and our mission -which has been the same since the beginning, which is get more people outside - you know, obviously asking those people how we're doing and what we need to do better to get them outside, uh, has always been a huge part of the process. So I built the first version of the website, um, mostly with the help of my little sisters and, um, my friend Natalie. And then once we kinda got it out in the world, it was about, you know, anyone who would talk to me, I would ask them for their feedback. What do you think about this feature? Am I missing, um, something that you're looking for? What should I build next? And so I've kind of always just listened to the community, asked questions, and co-created a Hipcamp with them.

Lisa: Wow. And, and so it's evolved from something that you kind of like strapped together to now you have a full development team, right? How large is that development team?

Alyssa: So our whole company's about 45 people right now. So it's definitely feeling very different for me since when it was just, you know, myself. Um, it's a lot more fun now. So, yeah. So since, you know, building the initial version of the site, I would say the, the arc has looked something like, you know, because we had a product in the website out there that was, you know, getting a little bit of traction and gaining people's interest. It just so happened that one of those, you know, early people, um, was an angel investor named Dave Warren. And he ended up, you know, leading our, our initial round of funding. And then with that funding, we were able to, uh, you know, figure out that while putting all of the existing campgrounds, you know, in the country on one map was helpful, it wasn't actually solving the problem because so often they're all booked up. And so we had to work with private landowners to create more campsites that led to our next funding round. So it's kind of just been this process of, you know, step-by-step, listening to the community, thinking through, are we actually solving the real problem here in the best way we can? Um, and building the team as we go.

Lisa: And then you also grew the company pretty organically, right? You mentioned before we recorded that you don't buy media and everything has happened naturally. Do you want to talk about that? That seems so rare.

Alyssa: Yeah, it, um, you know, I think it's a very natural extension of solving a very real problem. I think a lot of, um, times when companies have a harder time getting going, it's more like a solution looking for a problem. And that can be really hard, um, to get out into the world, I think, cause you then... then do have to like really pay, I think, a lot to get people's attention. For us, we've always stayed really laser focused on this problem, which is, it's just way too hard to go camping.

Um, and we've actually stayed very open to the solution. So some of the best advice I've gotten was to fall in love with the problem, but not the solution. Like, don't be, so, you know, egotistical to assume that your solution is going to be the solution. Like stay focused on your problem, um, but be open to the universe or your community having a better idea for your solution.

So I think because we've always built the company with that in mind, you know, we've created something that really solves a problem a lot of people have. And so when you find something that solves a problem that's real, it's pretty natural to tell people about it. And so we've been really fortunate, um, in terms of reaching, you know, all of the campers and RVers and, and glampers that we want to reach, um, that we haven't had to buy ads or, or, you know, do big campaigns. We just really have to stay focused on, you know, building the right product and getting the right, um, campsites and glamp sites and RV spots for them.And then they, they tell each other, um, which is really, I think, a powerful way to build a brand.

Lisa: And so were you using influencers or how do you, how do you work with photographers? Like what is this success with organic growth actually look like for you?

Alyssa: Yeah, we haven't done too much influencer work. Um, it's definitely something I'm interested in because I really, again, value community. And I know that so many people out there have done an amazing job creating communities around them that really share values and that, um, is an exciting new growth idea for us. Um, we do have a photography program where we'll actually pay photographers to go camping for free on, uh, newer Hipcamps to take photos of the land and the site where you're actually be staying. Um, and that's been super successful. We are looking to scale that up really across the country right now.

Lisa: Well, we have a lot of photographers who listen to this podcast, so, um, yeah. Where can they find more information about that?

Alyssa: Yeah, that's very exciting. We are actively recruiting, um, photographers across the country, uh, right now. And hopefully, uh, quite soon, um, internationally as well. Um, so you can just go to Hipcamp and, uh, search for photography, um, or a Hipcamp photography on Google, and you'll find a way to sign up.

Lisa: That's so cool. I'm sure people will check that out. That's awesome. And I really loved while, clicking around on your website, how you just throw your values right out there more so than a product or a solution. You're talking about your values, um, to get more people outside and to leave it better. How, how, uh, yeah, I mean, what does, what does that mean to you and, and why, why that creative decision as far as the website too?

Alyssa: I think, you know, some of the most challenging work we're doing as a company is really creating a culture, um, where people are able to, you know, go outside on our platform, but with the right mindset. Because the core of what Hipcamp's doing is finding, you know, these incredible landowners. And then basically pairing them up with people who, who want to get outside. And so making sure those people are coming together. Um, and by the way, these people are often very, very, very different. One's rural, one's urban. One's younger, one might be older. One’s conservative, one might be very liberal. So you can imagine there's kind of this big, um, meeting of, of people who might not otherwise meet each other. And when we realized really early on that to have that, um, go well, and to build community across these different types of people that often don't identify as being part of a shared community, we had to be really, um, thoughtful and intentional about defining what, what it meant to be part of the Hipcamp community. And the, the core of that really is leave it better. And leave it better for me is I'm taking Leave No Trace, which is amazing. And really building on it and saying, you know, there's going to be 10 billion people on the planet at some point, not too long from now. And many, many scientists and geologists are now saying that we live in the Anthropocene, right? We live in the era of man, or our... the... humanity’s impact on the planet is literally the defining aspect of this, this era, you know, we're not... leaving no trace isn’t actually a feasible goal.

We're having a big impact, a massive one. And so I think, you know, step one is accepting that and, and owning that as a culture and saying, okay, we're completely reshaping, you know, not only, uh, the face of the land and the temperature of the ocean, but the very atmosphere itself at this point. So let's own that. And, and get, get okay with that. Cause it's, it's happening and denying it's not going to help anybody. And then step two is how can we make that impact positive if we're, if we're ready to accept that we do have a big impact on our, on our earth, how can we make that impact positive?

And I think at the core of Hipcamp's community is a belief that it is possible for people, at scale, to have a positive impact on the environment. And we see this every day with our landowners, especially our hosts really embody this for us. It's actually how we got the phrase, leave it better. So many of our hosts kept saying it to me again and again in the context of, my goal is just to leave this land a little better than I found it. Um, they're going out there and replanting, uh, native plants. They're planting milkweeds so the Monarch butterfly can have more habitat in its migratory path, which is the number one cause of why it's, it's at risk of extinction right now. Um, they're rebuilding the streams so the salmon can run. They're growing food in a way that, uh, puts carbon in the soil and leaves the ecosystem more diverse and healthy than it was before. And so I think just seeing these examples in real life. And actually seeing people who are committing their lives to having a positive impact on the environment, um, gives people a lot of hope. It gives people a little bit more, I think, concrete examples of what it looks like to have a good impact as a human in the year 2019. Um, which can be confusing to a lot of people right now. And I really empathize with that. I think a lot of our systems and culture have been built in a way that makes it really hard, um, to have a good impact. And so I think giving people examples and, and really actionable ways to, to improve the impact they have is what we get really excited about as a company.

Lisa: Wow. Um, have you written a book? I feel like you should like write a book or run for president or do something cause this, this is unbelievable.

Alyssa: That’s really kind of you, I'm really, again, I will come bring it back to your words. Synthesis. I really…. I feel really lucky to be in the position I'm in because I get to talk to so many brilliant creative people. Our landowners are these, you know, brilliant, creative nature entrepreneurs. And I get to just sit and listen and understand how they see the world and they see our culture and um, I just feel really lucky to be in a position to be able to synthesize so many of those ideas into the brand. That in my mind, really stands for what our culture needs today.

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Iris: Lisa, what do you think about Alyssa's thoughts on falling in love with the problem and not the solution?

Lisa: Okay. I was all about that because... we see so commonly in business that someone has a business, they have a solution, and then they have to go look for a problem. Like, “we have a solution. Do you have a problem?” And that just becomes exhausting and not really an organic way to approach business. But when you actually see a problem, like a disconnect between land owners and people who perhaps live in a really urban setting, and, and, and, you know, you're working with that different solution and you see lots of problems within a business model that's, that's also so exciting. And I don't think it's bad to use the word problem. Like when, when I say, you know, you see problems, it doesn't necessarily mean like horrible, catastrophic things.

It's like, something that's open to a new way of doing things. And I think being able to be growth-minded when dealing with problems is so key in business, especially in a creative industry and as well as in outdoor industry because we all need the planet to play outside.

Iris: Yeah. I love the idea of not staying married to the first solution that you come up with and just focusing on that problem and making sure that at all times you're solving that problem for people. That's going to allow you to be flexible and grow with technological changes and changes in your customer base.

Lisa: Mhmm.

Iris: All right. Let's get back to Alyssa.

Lisa: How, like how are you finding these landowners or how are they finding you? Because we are, our office is headquartered in Whitefish, Montana, and so we know, you know, the struggles of remote existence in a way. And, um, a lot of, a lot of that audience is not on the internet necessarily, um, too frequently. How are you, how are you guys going to connected? It's fascinating.

Alyssa: It's really hard. I won't lie to you. [both laugh] It's really the core challenge for our company and, um, pretty much as far as we understand our, our company, which is really a marketplace, right? It's really where buyers and sellers are coming together. And so it has these really interesting dynamics. As far as we can tell, the rate at which our company is able to expand is, is completely and utterly dependent on how many landowners we can reach and kind of onboard into this, um, this way of, you know, hosting people on their land and really turning private land into, um, places where people can recreate.

Um, not just camp, but hike and fish and do all the great things that one can do outside. So we do a lot of, um, just outreach, to be honest. Just a lot of cold outreach, good old fashioned calls. Um. We really designed our platform so that even if you're not, and especially if you're not on a computer, often you can still use it. So we've actually invested heavily, for example, in SMS, a lot of the interactions, um, a landowner might have with Hipcamp can be done entirely through text message - because we know that people aren't always in an area that has super fast, high speed mobile networks. Um, and increasingly what we're seeing is that as you know, word’s getting out and landowners are earning, you know, real income on this platform, we have many landowners earning, um, well over six figures this year. Um. They start to tell each other and they start to tell their friends. And so increasingly people are coming to us, um, to learn more. And we've got a great team of market managers that, you know, each have their own area of the US and can really advise these potential new Hipcamp hosts on, on how to be best set up for success.

Lisa: That's truly amazing.

Alyssa: It's fun.

Lisa: Yeah. Wow. And how does that duality usually go between the landowner and like maybe someone coming from an urban setting out out onto the land? Is that... do you provide any type of training to the landowner on like, what to expect or manage expectations? ‘Cause I know the human experience is so unpredictable and, you know, you can't control that at all. Um, so what, what do you put in place to kind of, uh, help, help foster that mindset that, that... the values are of Hipcamp?

Alyssa: Great question. We do a lot of, again, to bring it back to the values and culture, we do a lot of really intentional, um, experience design to again, kind of get people in the right mindset. We don't want people showing up and thinking, oh, this is going to be like a hotel. And everything's going to be perfectly ironed out. Cause it's, it's not, in many cases it's a working ranch or a working farm and like, you're showing up to have this really unique experience and you need to be ready to, you know, you need to be up for a little adventure, uh, now and then.

So I think what we've learned to date can be summarized by saying that… when you bring people together over something they really both care about, and in this case it's the outdoors or nature, it's amazing how much... how little everything else matters. And so I think really keeping both sides of the platform focused on this is about getting more people outside. This is about connecting people with nature. So many of our hosts sign up for Hipcamp because they deeply believe that, you know, our culture's kind of gotten far too disconnected from nature and that getting people more connected with the land and the water and how do we grow our food and why do I have clean air and water and who's supporting that, they believe that that's a lot of the change we need to see right now. And so they view themselves in the work they're doing is really, you know, part of that, um, that cultural movement.

And then I think on the camper side, you know, doing the best we can to set expectations and say, Hey, this is, you know, a private individual who's running, let's say, a blueberry farm. And they've got a lot going on. And it's really awesome that they're open to having you and your, you know, your friends come in, enjoy and experience, you know, their life. And so really, I think building empathy on both sides, through the communication of values and also keeping focus on the shared, uh, the shared value of, of the outdoors and the importance of nature.

Lisa: Wow. And is there like a vetting process for, um, our Montana listeners and you know, people who might, might be landowners, I guess, how do they find out more?

Alyssa: Yeah. So if you are a landowner interested in earning some extra income and getting people more people excited about nature, um, if you go to you can just click on, become a host and learn more there. And we do have, um, good onboarding, good training, real people you can pick up the phone and talk to, to really understand if, if, if your property and your lifestyle is going to be a great... a great match for what we're doing.

Lisa: Cool. We will, uh, be sure to include a link on that.

Alyssa: Thank you.

Lisa: And I, I have a question for you. I'm so curious your answer on this. Um, because you started Hipcamp, you've had tremendous growth. Your life has changed. You have 45 people. Um, so what has becoming a boss on this scale made you realize about yourself?

Alyssa: That’s a deep question.

Lisa: Yeah.

Alyssa: Hmm. A million things. I think, you know, part of, um, any, any startup, any organization that you're creating, I think as a, a manager and especially as, um, as a leader or as the leader of an organization, you learn very quickly that any, um, any flaw you have will be mirrored back to you through your team, whether you like it or not. [laughs] So I would say the process of building this company has taught me repeatedly all the things that I need to work on and change and address. Um, a few of the... it's quite humbling and fun, right? You have to just enjoy the process of it all, I think.

Um, let's see. One of the bigger learnings that really stands out to me is around self care actually. So, you know, I think before, um, before starting Hipcamp, you know, I was spending a lot of time surfing and hiking and backpacking, and I was really active. And it was, uh, really quite, um, drastic, uh, once starting the company how quickly I gave all that up. I really stopped being active. I really stopped doing all these things that, um, made me feel good in my body because I thought I just needed to get a lot more work done and that that would help. And so I think one of the biggest learnings I've had to really grapple with is, you know, that I do have a body. I'm lucky to have a body. Um, and that I have to take care of it. There's no, there's no, like, shortcut there. I can't, you know, ignore my body for a year or two and just think that somehow that's gonna make me smarter or get more work done. Those things are really intrinsically connected, so I've had to really change a lot of my habits and patterns around, you know, getting enough sleep and getting enough exercise and eating well, and, um, doing the activities that really make me feel really good, like surfing or yoga or hiking or horseback riding. Um, so I don't know if that counts, but I would say that's probably the biggest thing I've had to really realize and, and, and learn, um, during this process so far.

Lisa: That's cool. And how do you, uh, like how do you kind of loop self care into your company culture for your employees?

Alyssa: Yeah, we do... we do a lot of things that I think, um, help keep it top of mind for people. It's really important, especially in, you know, the culture we're right in the middle of here in San Francisco where... there's almost this bizarre glorification of being underslept and overworked, um, which is again, bizarre, but it's, it's a big part of kind of the culture right here right now. Um, and so I think, you know, as within anything, we can say all the things we want, but what people really pay attention to are what you do.

And so I think making sure that, especially, um, leaders and managers at the company are taking care of themselves and are really leading by example. Um, that's super important. And that's what people, um, pay the most attention to. And then we also do, you know, cool programs where we make sure everyone has plenty of Hipcash, we call it. So they can go outside and go, you know, Hipcamping whenever they want. Uh, we do cool company off-sites where we'll do, you know, meditation or yoga or go hiking or surfing or paddle boarding. Um, and so really building that in is as much as we can into kind of the experience of being a team member here at Hipcamp is… it's super important to us. I'm, I'm hoping we're going to start having a weekly yoga classes in the office too. So I think really just building that into the daily rituals is really important.

Lisa: Very cool. Well, I know you're a busy human being and I'm so grateful for your time today. Um, is there any thing I didn't ask you that you think our creative outdoors-y audience would like to know?

Alyssa: Yeah, you've asked great questions. Um. You know, I think the only thing I'd add that is, you know, something as a brand we, we need to get better at telling the story about, but as, um, you know, people potentially using Hipcamp, what’s really important to understand is that when you go Hipcamping, when you go and stay with these incredible landowners, you are directly supporting the protection of private land.

And the United States is currently 60% privately owned. Uh, we're actually currently losing about five family farms every week right now in the United States. And this land and this habitat is essential, um, not only for, for reversing climate change, but also for protecting plants and animal life, um, from extinction. We're actually seeing that, you know, habitat loss is definitely the leading cause of biodiversity loss, but also the leading cause of climate change. And so when you get outside on private land, your, the money you're spending is going, um, to really supporting a habitat that needs to be protected so you can get outside and have fun and know that you're contributing to something important as well.

Lisa: That's so cool. Well, I am just blown away by this, you know, ecosystem that, that you've been able to, um, develop, this business ecosystem that does so much good for the planet, and I'm just really honored you were on the podcast.

Alyssa: Oh, Lisa, thank you so much for having me. It's been really fun and congrats on all the amazing ecosystems and companies you've created as well.

Iris: Thank you so much for being here, Alyssa. This was an incredible episode. And I've been following Hipcamp for awhile and it's really cool to see who is behind it.

Lisa: Yeah. I can't wait until you write a book or run for president or become a global leader. Really just whatever. I'm totally on board. Thanks for being here.

Iris: And if you're looking for a place to stay on your next adventure checkout Hipcamp, and with that, we will see you next week.

Lis: Yup. Don't forget, listeners, to leave us a review. Tell us what you like or don't like. You can also email us directly with people that you think should be on the podcast or you've been give us feedback or tell us jokes. Just email

Iris: That's right. And you can find us at or at @wheeliecreative on Instagram. We're on all the things, you can find us anywhere.

Lisa: Yep. Meanwhile, enjoy synthesizing the shit out of your week.

Iris: Woo!

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