Virginia Company OutdoorAccess strikes gold with web system connecting outdoorsmen and private landowners.The Internet has revolutionized the way that people can make their assets work for them. AirBNB allows homeowners to rent out their spare room, while Uber and Lyft allow car owners to turn their personal vehicles into a cabs. Now, one Virginia company is trying to take this same business model and apply it to… nature. OutdoorAccess, as the name implies, connects private landowners with nature lovers. Individuals can purchase short-term access to private land for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. Buck Robinson, one of the founders of OutdoorAccess, explains how the service is mutually beneficial for landowners and nature-lovers alike.
“We facilitate that marketplace where supply and demand can benefit from one another. From the landowners perspective they have property they can generate income from in a nontraditional way and we allow them access to our vetted members."OutdoorAccess charges a membership fee for users, either $9/month or $99/year. This includes a criminal background check, which gives landowners peace of mind before they allow hunters or anglers onto their property. Then, members can look through listed properties and book them the same way they would book a vacation home on AirBNB. Properties are listed by price and availability, allowing members to choose the location that fits their budget and schedule.
When the company launched, it had 30 listed properties and zero members. Today, there are more than 100 properties and 540 members using OutdoorAccess. Almost all of the listed properties are located in Virginia, but Robinson explains that there are plans to expand into neighboring West Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. “We want to become a regional player," he says. The company recently raised $1 million in seed capital and is putting that money towards this regional expansion plan. The OutdoorAccess model isn’t anything new. Just like Uber and AirBNB made hailing a cab and booking a vacation both easier and more affordable, OutdoorAccess applies this concept to private land usage. Bill Kane, who has listed his property on OutdoorAccess since day one, loves the convenience of it all. “I like it a lot; so far it has worked out well. My property isn't really big so it's nice to make a little money off of it and cover taxes,” Kane says, “You find a few people you like and you are happy to have them come down and fish or hunt.”
Previously, outdoorsmen would have to rely on personal relationships and/or pay hefty sums out of pocket to get permission to use private land. When it comes to hunting clubs, permission to hunt on private land can cost thousands of dollars a year. Even then, you're limited to hunting on just one piece of property. OutdoorAccess allows members to rent access to a whole network of private land for less than $25 a day. Other more exclusive hunting opportunities are offered for hundreds of dollars a day. But the point is that people can spend what they want for the experience they want. The barriers to entry for private land recreation have been all-but eliminated. Anyone with an itch for the outdoors can be connected with private landowners in just seconds. There will always be public land available for hunting, angling, and camping. But if you’re looking to get away from the crowds, OutdoorAccess makes it easier than ever to connect with private landowners. As society moves closer towards urbanization, services like OutdoorAccess are absolutely vital to keeping outdoor recreation alive.