Name: Alyssa Ravasio
Title: Founder of Hipcamp
City: San Francisco, CA
After hours searching for the perfect oceanside campspot, Alyssa arrived to find an incredible surf spot. The only issue was, she had taken her board out of her car having found no information about the waves she would encounter while setting up her trip. Realizing how broken the system was, that moment sparked an idea. She began to work on a transparent camping platform. A guide to the best-kept secret camping spots, and more information on incomplete listings. Hipcamp was born, and the world of camping was turned upside down.
How and when did you find your passion?
I’ve been following my passion my entire life. Everything I’ve done, from the earliest I can remember, surrounds being inspired and passionate. The passions have changed, but I’ve always seeked out things I’ve loved. Even in preschool. Lots of finding it, and finding it again.
I grew up camping and getting outside. I’m a huge believer in the outdoors — the importance getting outside for human health, happiness, and finding yourself. I’m also passionate about the internet and it’s potential as a powerful tool that can change how our world works. Hipcamp was the perfect storm of those two passions. I had an experience where I was looking for a campsite by the ocean. When I got there, I realized that even after all the research, I had missed something. I hadn’t known that there was a great surf break, and I had taken my board out of my car. It was driving back the next day that made me realize how broken the system is. It was a perfect chance for me to combine three of my passions. The outdoors, the internet, and entrepreneurship.
Tell us more about the transition to doing what you love.
I started Hipcamp after quitting a job, traveling, and learning how to code. I started building it while attending Dev Bootcamp. The day I missed the surf break aligned with the beginning of the program. I had it on my mind. I was thinking about it, and talking to people about it. I started it there, and then began to work on it fulltime.
How did/do you hone your skills?
The good thing about being CEO of a quickly growing company is I have a new job every three months. It’s important that I learn to do it really quickly. I’m in a constant state of learning new skills and getting better at the core skillset. That’s why I love my job. It even feels weird to call it a job!
Tell us about a time in your earlier transition to living your passion when you failed. How did you feel? What did you learn?
It was a slow and painful failure. The first summer building the website, I really expected it to take off. It just didn’t. I realized it was going to take a lot of work to reach people, and that it wasn’t just going to happen. By the end of the summer, I was wondering if I should stop doing it, and if I should give up. I slowly began to wonder if I was failing. It made me realize that starting things takes longer than you think. It’s going to be harder than you want it to be. It’s going to require more elbow grease than you think. I learned to keep going. I met people who affirmed that it was important, and it gave me energy. I had to redefine what success was, and celebrate that even a small number of people using Hipcamp early on was exciting. Or that we had our first customer trust us with their credit card information.
What has been your biggest fear about living your Passion?
Early on, I had a lot of fears about if it would happen. That I’d do all this work, and silently fail. That nobody would notice, or even have the chance to tell me what they thought.
How do you overcome your fears?
With any kind of fear, I always try to face it head on, write it down, and think about it. Recently, my fear has been settling. For Hipcamp, we have a huge culture shifting opportunity to reconnect humanity to nature, and instill respect for nature. I don't want to settle for just having a good business. I want to push for our biggest potential impact. Never settling.
Was there a time when you were running out of money? Did you need to give up a lifestyle to pursue your passion? Tell us more about that and how you coped.
The whole first year, I was living on a little over a thousand dollars a month. I didn’t buy a drink in a bar for a whole year. The only meals I ate at a restaurant were with my parents. I was keeping costs incredibly low, thinking about the bare minimum I needed to survive. I needed to prove the company could work, and wanted to dedicate my time to that, so I needed to be aware of my spending. I was biking instead of driving. I loved it. It was not spending money for all the best reasons. Freedom.
Who inspires you?
I'm inspired by the local community. You learn to pay it forward. You're often one email away from getting coffee and sitting down with someone who could change everything. People want to make the time, and we try do the same.
Is there a community that supports you? Who are they?
I’m surrounded my the best people in the world. Many are friends, advisors, and mentors that I regularly talk to for advice. I can lean on them and ask for support. The Dev Bootcamp community had been a huge part of that, especially my first summer advisor Liz Howard. My friends who have started companies are always there to talk through a tricky situation. Our team is incredible. They are the core of all of that. Our partners and investors are all creating a strong community for all of us.
What is self-love to you? And how important is it to your journey?
That is one of the most underappreciated areas of entrepreneurship. It’s such a trying process to start a company. Learning your limits and about where you are strongest and weakest. It’s all about learning to forgive yourself. Learning to trust your intuition. There is no right answer, so I’ve learned to trust that process. I make time for health and wellbeing. Being outside is wonderful for resetting sleep and grounding. The other part of self-love is learning how to find that balance. You want to do as much as you can, but you also need to keep yourself in a good state to do the best you can.
On Advice to the Community
Please share a piece of advice with our community of men and women who are looking to leave their traditional jobs and live their passions.
“Stay hungry, stay foolish.” I originally saw this is a 70’s Whole Earth catalog. What it means to me it don't settle. Find that thing that makes you come alive and never settle for less. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, because you can.