It’s no secret that British Columbia is paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. But a new app aims to connect those enthusiasts with secret spots in this natural playground. Yervana links outdoor adventurers, referred to as “Explorers”, to a network of activity hosts known as “Locals”, because who knows the land better than those who live, work, and play on it?
The idea for Yervana came out of Jim McGovern’s frustration at trying to find one of his local contacts to ski at Whistler with some of his out-of-town friends. “I realized there really wasn’t a good way to find locals when you want a personalized adventure,” says McGovern, a 30-year veteran of the investment industry, of the genesis of Yervana. “One of the big things I learned about the sharing economy and what’s so powerful is the peer-to-peer review. That is the glue that’s going to be the new currency going forward for people.” McGovern spent a year and a half developing the technology and beta testing before Yervana was born.
The Yervana app allows you to book an adventure in just a few taps or clicks from start to finish, and it means there’s no more scouring websites for ideas and itineraries. Once an Explorer has downloaded the free app, they can search, discover, and pay for a personalized outing with qualified (and insured) Locals, each of whom offers an experience you can’t find anywhere else. For instance, the Secret Local Hike hosted by Nicky is a leisure trek with remarkable, expansive views of Howe Sound to a private viewing deck to “enjoy the local scenery with a beer in hand,” she adds. The Snowshoe to Cypress Mountain’s Hidden Cabins—wooden structures that are seemingly right out of a fairy tale—is hosted by Sofie, a West Vancouver native who returned to the city after working on Ellesmere Island researching ecological adaptations to climate change. Want professional photos of yourself mountain biking? Clint will take you on a trail adventure in Whistler and document the ride.
“I looked at really successful companies, and the thing I felt they all had in common was they all focused on one thing,” says McGovern. “Amazon is the largest online retailer today, but they started out selling books. What are our books? Personal adventures. And we are focused on the Sea to Sky Corridor,” one of the greatest recreation magnets in the world located between Vancouver and Pemberton.
At launch this past February, there were 35 adventures to select from, and the roster of Locals continues to grow. “Yervana is a platform for Locals to monetize their knowledge and experience,” says McGovern, who has set his sights on scaling Yervana globally. “We are all about the community—the community we create for our Locals, but the community we are in.”
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