Introduce yourself and tell us about TripOutside?
Hi! I’m Julie Singh, Co-Founder of TripOutside.com. TripOutside is a new website for outdoor enthusiasts who want to book outdoor gear and adventures online from the best local shops. The site allows customers to discover top outdoor destinations, compare rental prices, and book the gear they need online quickly and easily.
The equipment will be waiting at the outfitter, getting customers to their adventure faster. The site features shops that rent bikes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, canoes, skis, snowboards, rafts, surfboards, camping gear and more. TripOutside also features tours and outdoor adventures from a growing list of outdoor adventure companies.
With 90% of travel bookings involving online searches, TripOutside lets customers book adventures whenever and from wherever they want, all on one website. Additionally, outdoor enthusiasts can compare rental prices before they book, and see shop locations and brands in over 60 top outdoor adventure destinations (and growing!).
Prices between shops can vary by as much as 50%, so this helpful tool can help save outdoor enthusiasts a ton of money. Mountain biking the Moab red rock, backcountry canoeing the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota, and surfing Oahu’s famous waves are just a few of the adventures you can find on TripOutside.com.
Why did you start TripOutside and what is unique about it?
The idea for TripOutside came about on one of our vacations. My husband Reet and I traveled a lot in our free time and spent as much time outdoors as we could. We rented gear like bikes, kayaks, and skis during our adventures and saw a problem to be solved with online gear rental.
We wasted too much of our vacation time renting equipment! The typical process involves online searches, calling shops about availability, booking over the phone, and waiting for bikes, skis or kayaks to be prepared in-store.
So, we created TripOutside.com to allow outdoor enthusiasts to compare prices and book outdoor gear and adventures on one website, saving them time and effort and getting them to their adventure faster. Our goal is to get more people outside and adventuring!
We left our corporate careers in 2017 to start TripOutside, and we travel full-time in our motorhome (with our cat Juke!) curating the best outdoor destinations for our customers.
How are you marketing your business?
Because we are a marketplace, we work to raise awareness and market to both outfitters and customers! Initially, this was our biggest challenge – especially the first couple of outfitters! This is why traveling to these locations and visiting outfitters in person were really important.
Once we gained traction, it became easier and now we have outfitters finding us through google, social media and word of mouth! On the customer side, we market and promote through a variety of avenues like SEO, paid, affiliates, influencers and more. Raising awareness is always a work in progress for us, and we are constantly evaluating different ways of getting the word out!
What did you learn from your biggest failure?
It is challenging to know everything about starting a business, and hard to learn it all at once. But we have learned that we can’t hire someone to do work that we don’t fully understand. We have learned over time that we have to build at least a basic level of understanding of all aspects of our business to be able to guide our team on the strategy and communicate goals.
Online training sites like Udemy and Linda.com have great training guides and resources for everything from Marketing to Finance to Operations and have helped us learn about topics that we didn’t have as much experience with. We also subscribe to various industry leaders for insights and tips on various subjects.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
The obstacle is the way. Don’t shy away from challenges and obstacles within your business – this is probably why you started the business, to begin with! The challenges are usually where the big “aha!” moments come from, and where you can make the most difference. It will not always be easy, but that’s also why it probably hasn’t been done before. Have confidence in yourself and your ability to figure it out!
What unique selling points (USPs) do you offer that your competition doesn’t?
TripOutside features outdoor gear and adventures for the outdoor enthusiast. We strive to tread lightly on our extraordinary planet and we feature only “silent sports” – gear and adventures that leave no trace. Focusing primarily on gear rental for “DIY” adventures, but we also feature some awesome guided trips like whitewater rafting and backcountry paddling tours. We curate our outfitters and adventures to make sure we are only featuring the best local shops.
Many other travel sites exist where customers can book a broad variety of experiences – everything from museum visits to guided city tours. You won’t find museum visits, walking tours or ATV rentals on TripOutside.com. We focus on a smaller outdoor adventure niche, but everything on our site is relevant to the outdoor enthusiast. Our goal is to get more people out and exploring our magnificent wild places!
TripOutside works with gear rental shops of all sizes, whether they have an existing online booking software or not! We can integrate with many different booking software or send them booking requests using our custom-built tool. We provide an additional marketing channel to help shops rent unused equipment while saving them time and effort in the shop.
What sacrifices did you make to be a successful entrepreneur?
We are working most of our waking hours, and I think most entrepreneurs can relate. The never-ending feeling that there is more work to be done can be hard to deal with, especially when we are in incredible outdoor destinations! The good thing is that our work also allows us to get out and experience the destinations we are featuring.
Our goal is to curate the top local shops and outdoor activities for our customers. We try to get outside and explore for a bit each day, with a bigger adventure like mountain biking a few times a week. We are truly passionate about helping people get outdoors, and we enjoy our work – so that definitely helps.
If we find ourselves working 24/7 (which definitely happens when you start your own business!), we try to step away and get out into nature to help us clear our heads, maintain our positivity and even get the creative juices flowing!
What is your favorite book and how has it helped in your business?
The Code of the Extraordinary Mind is a phenomenal book that my husband and I listened to via audiobook just before we started TripOutside.com. We came across it at the perfect time, and it helped us challenge our status quo, redefine our idea of success, and make some drastic changes to pursue our passions. It encouraged us to move beyond traditional ways of thinking and redesign our lives on our own terms. I highly recommend it!
What is the future goal for your company?
Our goal is to be in every top outdoor destination in the U.S. by the end of 2019 and expand internationally starting in 2020. We are adding new outfitters and adventures in top outdoor destinations every day. We are also working on building more great tools for both customers and outfitters – like pricing comparisons, trip guides, and user-generated content.
Satisfying moments in business?
We are most satisfied when we help a customer find and book an outdoor adventure – this is the whole reason we started TripOutside.com!
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