Sēkr’s cofounders, CEO Breanne Acio (left) and COO Jess Shisler (right)
It is mid-March and springtime is so close that people are aching for it to arrive. After two long years of staying indoors and avoiding social interactions, cutting back on travel plans and not seeing family or friends who live far away have taken a toll on people. With mask restrictions lifted—for the most part—and the economy reopening, there’s a feeling that the United States will enter a new and better phase.
As the warm-weather seasons are approaching, that will make people want to get out of their homes and go somewhere. Wanderlust has been suppressed for far too long and it’s time to travel and see the country and world.
If you live in an urban setting, surrounded by too many people, or felt cramped in your home for the last couple of years, this may be the right time to take a trip across America to see some of its beautiful national parks.
The pandemic brought us a lot of pain, but it has also opened our eyes. People no longer need to be shackled to an office eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week. As workers are regaining power due to a hot job market, they’re able to demand flexible options. People can now lead their best lives by working the way they want from wherever they desire—while still receiving the same pay.
Sēkr, a women and minority-founded, crowdsourced mobile platform, is making outdoor planning and travel experience easier, safer and more social. Sēkr’s cofounders, CEO Breanne Acio and COO Jess Shisler, were just looking for a better way to scout out new camping locations. The two had been traveling independently with their partners in their campervans, having embraced the “van-life” lifestyle.
Shisler had a job in public relations, and Acio, who later went on to run a campervan conversion company, was a professor at San Diego State University. The founders wanted to offer a way for campers and others in the van-life community to come together and share their individual knowledge and experiences about various campsites and other locations.
The travel company is creating a community for everyone to feel welcome. It doesn’t matter if you are a digital nomad or just want to take one-off excursions in the wilderness. The inclusive community provides access to more than 50 thousand campsites, including the nation’s largest database of free campsites.
After more than a year of the Covid-19 pandemic, interest in outdoor travel has spiked. It makes sense. People are desperate to get far away from crowds to be safe from the virus outbreak. Sēkr saw a massive 1,530% increase in user sessions from May 2020 to May 2021 and a 492% increase in app users from August 2020 to August 2021.
The platform makes it easy to find the perfect campsite. You can select from state parks, RV parks, Bureau of Land Management (public lands managed by the government) overnight parking, national forests and boondocking (out-of-the-way areas).
For free, you can explore all types of campsites, chat and plan camping trips with friends, discover outdoor events and find people nearby. Lodgings range from tent sites to rugged 4×4 access overlooks to luxurious glamping. The app tries to make things easy and safe via member reviews, crowdsourced locations and pro tips shared by expert campers. Life on the road can be lonely. The platform enables travelers to message and connect with fellow seekers. You can find out about cool, interesting community events.
Employees of the company are encouraged to expense their annual National Parks Pass each year, as well as up to two nights per month camping and an additional two nights per month at any CampShare. Beyond that, employees also have full access to the company campervan to bring on any camping trip of their choice.
Sēkr previously announced the closing of a $2.25 million seed financing round to further its mission of empowering people to pursue connection with the outdoors and its communities. The round was led by Storyteller Overland, Backstage Capital, Techstars, Ad Astra Ventures, Crescent Ridge Ventures and Andy Ballester, cofounder of GoFundMe.
“The camping industry is one of the only hospitality verticals yet to successfully adopt technology, and Sēkr seized the opportunity to digitize campsite inventory at scale, transforming the outdoor planning process from a frustrating loop of hours of failed Google searches into something consumers can do by themselves,” said Jeffrey Hunter, CEO at Storyteller Overland and lead investor of Sēkr’s funding round.
“Like the leaders before them in the hotel and vacation rental verticals, we believe the Sēkr team is uniquely positioned to have the largest influence and impact on the outdoor travel planning experience for the nearly three-fourths of Americans who participate in outdoor travel annually.”