Santa Barbara-based HearHere, the corporate behind an audio leisure and immersive storytelling road-trip app, has raised $3.2 million in seed funding led by RV and outside retailer Tenting World. The app goals to foster deep connections and understandings of the locations and histories of the land that customers are touring via when on a street journey. With customers’ permission, HearHere pushes info to customers as they’re driving, giving them informational tidbits in three- to five-minute segments about their environment, together with factors of curiosity they won’t have identified about.
Launched in August 2020, HearHere at present has greater than 100,000 registered customers and affords greater than 8,880 tales throughout the US. The GPS-powered app serves up tales based mostly on customers’ location and pursuits. HearHere CEO and co-founder Woody Sears informed TechCrunch in an interview that the tales inform customers concerning the historical past and pure panorama of the realm that they’re in. About half of the tales featured within the app are based mostly on historical past, whereas the remaining concentrate on nationwide wonders, sports activities, music and native insights.
“There’s no scarcity of tales that may be informed about all these locations in America,” Sears mentioned. “There are tens of millions of tales, so it’s important to be considerably selective to start with. For a few of these, we have been impressed by issues like historic markers, after which [took] them a layer deeper. We’re not simply targeted on main vacationer locations, like cities and nationwide parks, however on all of the issues in between that join folks to cities.”
As soon as customers allow location entry, they will discover close by tales based mostly on their present location. When customers aren’t on the street, they will entry a map of the US and select to see tales based mostly on their pursuits. The concept of the app is to floor the unknown or forgotten historical past of areas. Sears’s neighbor, actor Kevin Costner, favored the thought of the app a lot that he joined its group as a co-founder, narrator and investor in 2020.
“I serendipitously met Woody via our youngsters and was instantly hooked on the imaginative and prescient and mission of HearHere,” mentioned Costner in a press release. “HearHere prioritizes authenticity and fact in our tales. We cowl America’s previous, which as you understand, along with the wealthy tales, sadly additionally entails a deep historical past of tragic occasions just like the displacement of Indigenous folks, the therapy and historical past of African American folks, the experiences and affect of the Hispanic and Asian communities, and the numerous, many different teams of peoples who got here to this nation to pursue the entire alternatives, hopes and goals that it provided. We inform these tales as a result of they’re essential to understanding the complete historical past of a location and our nation, and till these hundreds upon hundreds of tales are chronicled and informed, our historical past isn’t full.”
By way of the brand new funding, Sears says the funding might be used to proceed to develop the app’s content material library and increase its performance in several methods, comparable to introducing offline listening capabilities. The startup additionally plans to make use of the funding to develop its group. HearHere at present has 26 folks on its content material group, primarily consisting of contractors with a background in journey journalism. The group additionally consists of researchers, writers, editors and narrators.
The corporate’s seed spherical included a strategic funding from AAA and participation from Pasadena Angels, SeraphGroup and others. The seed spherical follows HearHere’s $1.6 million pre-seed funding introduced final yr, which additionally included investments from Tenting World, AAA, Pasadena Angels and extra. Sears mentioned Tenting World’s involvement in HearHere’s pre-seed and seed funding spherical was a results of the businesses’ “pure synergy,” as HearHere offers entertaining and academic content material that RVers can get pleasure from throughout their journeys all through the nation. Final yr, Tenting World introduced plans to combine HearHere into its journey planning instrument to offer shoppers with real-time content material as they journey.
The app is out there on the Apple App Retailer, with an Android launch anticipated to come back quickly. Free accounts include 5 tales, whereas paid accounts value $36 per yr and include limitless entry. HearHere is at present obtainable within the continental United States, with plans to launch in Alaska and Hawaii later this yr.