It started last August.
We had just wrapped up closing down Cherie’s family business, which had been the focus of her career and her primary source of income for the past 20 years.
After several back-to-back major life challenges, we announced that we were excitedly looking forward to treating ourselves to a bit of a mini-sabatical – focusing on our own apps, books, and small projects for a while.
We even had a snazzy new logo created for our own partnership, Two Steps Beyond LLC, and polished up our professional web presence.
We wrote at the time:
Fortunately we are both skilled at setting intentions, and then letting go of our attachment to them.
Because just a few weeks later we got an email from another full-time RVer named Curtis:
“I just spent about an hour on your site, again, and I want to connect with you! As a reminder, our mutual friend tried to connect us a couple of years ago but we blew it off.… The reason I am contacting you now is I think I have a development job for you if at all interested.”
We get emails like this occasionally, and had gotten several all at once after we announced we shut down the family business.
We were sincere that we weren’t looking for new gigs, but we followed up nicely to them all and offered consultation sessions. All of our replies pointed out that we were mainly focused on our lighthouse hosting duties and in no rush to explore new opportunities.
A few weeks later, Curtis poked us again:
“I am really hoping to connect with you, and am wondering if you have time for a call in the NEAR future?”
That email lead to a great phone call, with Curtis revealing a very intriguing project, and all of us discovering some amazing serendipitous threads of connection and entwined history – even though we had never met.
But there was no obvious path forward – we weren’t looking to take on anyone else’s big project, and a skilled team made up of veterans from Couchsurfing.org (which grew to support 7 million members!) was already on board.
We told Curtis we were happy to brainstorm further with him, and it looked like our paths were likely to cross soon.
“Can’t wait to meet ya and show you where we are at with this “baby” I am having!”
The seeds were planted, and in early November we at last came face-to-face with Curtis on a magically serendipitous night in the desert.
Curtis shared with us his dream for creating something amazing for RV’ers craving community on the road – something he was calling RVillage.
“RVillage… Our Village.”
It was a realization of something we had wished for in all our years on the road – and he had the funding, a development team, and a solid business plan for bringing it into reality.
He told us he knew we had some big role in this, we just had to define it.
- We’re very experienced full time RVers
- We have navigated the challenges of finding community on the road
- We know social media inside and out
- We orchestrate unique product launches
- We love being part of bringing something unique and new to the world
- We are very technical and can interface with development teams
- We know, and are known by, a lot of other RVers
We realized that this project had our name written all over it, and by the time we were back on the road eastward, we knew we couldn’t NOT be involved. We were in rare place in our lives where we had both the time and banked savings to invest ourselves into a speculative project that inspired us so much.
So we agreed to join the RVillage core team as advisors and “Launch Specialists” to add our unique perspective and talents.
And since early November we have been working (literally!) every day to help bring this dream into reality.
So much for avoiding life encompassing projects!
Sometimes the universe completely ignores the intentions you set, and gives you exactly what you need.
And now… Introducing RVillage!
The core idea of RVillage is to create a very simple (and free) tool for RVers to connect with each other – not just online, but right in the RV parks and places they are currently staying in.
When a user checks into a location in RVillage, they can discover the things that they have in common with other RVers right around them.
This sure beats leaving connections up to chance encounters while walking the cat, or the random stranger coming up asking “what type of engine is in that thing?” while you are busy dumping the tanks.
“With RVillage, an RV park full of strangers becomes a village full of friends.”
And RVillage isn’t just about making new friends out on the road – it also features shared mapping tools that let you track your current friends across the country and plan future rendezvous together.
Even better – you can create both public and private groups to keep in touch with people who share your interests. Everything from smaller special interest groups to larger organizations will be able to have a presence on RVillage with a central map showing where everyone in the group is currently checked in at.
This is the sort of “Nomad Proximity Detector” tool that we have long craved in our own nearly 8 years years on the road.
Here’s a preview video our team put together to explain the RVillage concept:
RVillage aims to answer some of the common questions we see daily in blogs, forums, and groups:
- How can I meet like minded people on the road, when I’m only in town for a few days?
- Who else is traveling in this part of the country right now? Where will people be converging this winter?
- How can I meet my new neighbors in a campground, skip the small talk, and get to the deeper things we share in common?
- I keep literally passing my RVing friends on the highway – isn’t there a better way to know when we are near each other?
- How can I find RV Parks that are more social, offering more than just a place to park?
RVillage is not just another social network focused on keeping people virtually connected and online.
This is about using technology to make more real life connections happen offline.
“It’s not only about the places we go, it’s also about the people we meet along the way.”
We’ve partnered with Allstays for our park directory so nearly every RV park in the country is already in the system – including many in Canada.
You’ll be able to browse the profiles of others in the park – and you can then message them directly and organize or attended get-togethers.
You can post on the park’s feed and ask about local things to see, or about borrowing a ladder, or seeing who might be up for a photography expedition or grocery run. Or just hanging out around a campfire.
And RVillage can become a conduit for communication between park management and their village – relaying information ranging from propane delivery schedules to weather alerts – “Bring in the awnings tonight!”
It’s super focused on the RVing lifestyle – full timers, part timers, vacationers, and seasonal RVers alike.
RVillage has been created by RVers for RVers, and we couldn’t be more excited.
Ready to Join RVillage?
Building RVillage has been a massive undertaking, and a lot of pieces have had to come together in a relatively short time.
After a couple months of conducting intense focus groups (yup, serendipity perfectly timed the development cycle with our Cedar Key convergence to provide an ideal social RVing environment!), and hosting hundreds of private previews – we think what we have in RVillage today is a solid very functional foundation.
But we know we are not nearly done yet.
There are still rough edges to smooth out, plenty of big and little bugs to squash, and a lot of potential that is still evolving as we work out the implementation details.
No one has ever created a site and community quite like RVillage before – and we have decided to invite the public in before the site is perfect with a “Public Beta” period beginning today.
Our intention is to turn “beta” into a badge of honor, indicating that we are being developed out in the open taking community feedback to heart.
In part we are doing this because we just couldn’t keep it secret any longer – so many of our preview users have been having a hard time holding back their excitement wanting to share about RVillage already.
Lots of awesome stuff is still under development and coming soon – such as support for smartphones, boondocking sites, and travelers in Mexico.
We know that an active and involved village is the best way to determine what features are actually the most important to prioritize.
So if you’re up for joining us in continuing to shape this amazing tool as a community, we invite you to set up your free profile here:
You can start making new friends right away, connect with existing ones, and finding the most social RV Parks along your route ahead!
And if you’d like to be part of the conversation around submitting bugs and ideas for future improvements, as well as getting updates about major new features & fixes – we also invite you to join us on our RVillage Beta Feedback group.
Even before launch, RVillage already has had several success stories of new friendships made and existing ones strengthened.
We are so excited to see the impact that this project will have on the RVing world!
RVillage will always be free for us RVers, and even for the RV Parks who can choose to claim their parks and become social RVing hubs. The funding will come from the location aware service directory that you’ll see on the right hand side of the screen featuring RV friendly businesses who are advertising and supporting the community.
We have teams already out on the road getting RV Parks to claim their parks and encourage their guests to sign into RVillage. They are also selling advertising to local RV friendly businesses. The service directory has actually proven to be a favorite feature in our preview testing – providing a valuable tool that will make it easier for us RVers to find the things we need when we’re just in town for a short while.
Imagine – useful advertising focused on the needs of RVers, and relevant to where you are at right now!
So this is it – the ‘secret project’ we have been teasing about.
If you are at all excited by the potential here – tell your friends, share this post, and help us spread the word! As RVillage.com grows, we all benefit by increasing the number of people we can connect with on the road.
We are so excited to finally be able to talk about this!!
Follow RVillage on:
A couple notes:
- If you need assistance with RVillage, please use the ‘Contact Us’ link on the bottom of every RVillage page (including the landing page). You can also contact customer service directly by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- RVillage is focused on the USA, and will gradually grow to support locations in Canada and Mexico. You can also set your location to anything you desire (including ‘At Home’, ‘Out in the Boonies’, ‘On Vacation’, etc. under the ‘No, I’m Not in a Park’ location option. This will take you entire ‘off the map’ as well if you don’t want to share your location.)