Advntur Sets Out to Build Online Sharing Community for Athletes
Is there room for another Web company based on the “sharing economy” business model?
Entrepreneur Matt Doran thinks so. Doran is the founder of Advntur, a San Diego startup launched in January to help athletes and sports enthusiasts connect with like-minded people elsewhere who are willing to give them a place to stay, share their gear, or perhaps even serve as a guide or training partner.
Traveling users start by registering as “explorers” and choosing a sport and location. Want to go skiing in Telluride, CO? Golfing in Myrtle Beach, SC? Sailing on Lake Monona in Madison, WI? Once users make a selection, they can search Advntur to find a host in a particular place who shares the same interests.
Hosts likewise register as “natives” and create their own account profiles. Each profile describes the kind of lodging, equipment, and service they can provide, and the price for each. Hosts also list the sports they are most passionate about, and describe their ability level.
The website needs more users. When I searched for “hiking” in “Denver, CO,” (pretty basic, right?), I got a message saying, “There don’t seem to be any Natives here to share an adventure with you… yet.”
Doran answered a few questions about his venture by e-mail, which have been condensed and edited below:
Xconomy: What were you doing before you started Advntur, and what made you think it would work?
Matt Doran: I was in the marketing department at Vigor Systems, a small tech firm in La Jolla. I knew there was a need for it from having spoken to many athletes, and I knew I could succeed.
X: Who else is involved?
MD: I am the CEO, and Dave Kennedy is my partner and CTO. We have one employee who is also on the development team and we have a few part-time employees. We have a board of directors, and I have a few advisors on whom I rely.
X: How have you funded your operations so far?
MD: To date, we have raised $260,000 through personal connections, and we are looking to raise an additional $240,000 to close out the Seed Round.
X: How are you going to make money?
MD: Advntur profits by taking 15 percent of each transaction. For example, if a host charges $100 to borrow his surf board for the weekend, the host earns $85 and Advntur collects $15. We use Stripe as our payment processor.
X: Are you initially targeting any particular sports?
MD: We have 12 sports listed on our site. We feel comfortable in our knowledge of these sports and can speak to the concerns of those athletes. We also have insurance for these sports (except people sharing skis) through Lloyd’s of London. Any sports beyond that would require new insurance terms and coverage. There will absolutely be more sports added in the future, but for now we are sticking with what we know and what we can support.
X: Can you give any examples of the kind of equipment sharing you have in mind?
MD: You’re a golfer, and you have a business trip coming up in Atlanta. You don’t want to bring your clubs because it’s only for three days and rentals are hit-or-miss. With Advntur, you can search for golfers in Atlanta, connect with someone who has a similar handicap, and they can play a round with you. The host might even be a member of a private club, giving you access to a course you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. If you only want to borrow the clubs and play by yourself, you can do that as well.
Or you’re a surfer, and you’re on vacation in Hawaii. It’s expensive to bring your board on the plane, and the rental boards aren’t in good condition. You don’t know the good local surf spots. You’re also traveling on a budget, and you want to get a more local Hawaiian experience and avoid the tourist traps. With Advntur, you can search for surfers in Hawaii, connect with someone who will lend you their board or has spare ones (which most surfers do) and can show you the local surf spots, vouch for you since surfers are territorial, and put you up for the night.
Or you’re a runner traveling to New York for the marathon. If you stay at a hotel, you’ll be staying in Manhattan and may very well not know how to get to Staten Island for the race start. You’ll have no idea where to go the night before for a good pre-race meal. With Advntur, you can connect with a New York runner who runs at the same mile time and might even be running in the race as well. You can get in a few days ahead of time, go for some runs with the host and get a sense of what it’s like to run in NYC.
Advntur is about connecting athletes, not people who have gear with people who need it. Yes, there will be occasions when I need fishing gear and you have it and that’s all there is to it, but we promote sharing the experience together and making friends.