Riparide raises $4m for international expansion plans

Australia: Melbourne-based online portal Riparide, which specialises in providing unique properties and experiences in regional Australia, has raised $4 million in investment as it looks to accelerate its international expansion plans.

The investment round was backed by private investment groups Macdoch Ventures and Upswell Ventures.

Founded in 2014, Riparide promises to offer “soul-fulfilling escapes” in accommodations ranging from caravans to yurts, tipis, old tram or train carriages, yachts, hotels, cottages, shipping containers and holiday homes.

The startup aims to use the funding to launch overseas in the next 12 months when travel restrictions ease, with Auckland [New Zealand] and two unnamed US cities in its sights. With more than 1600 sites already in New South Wales and Victoria, Riparide is targeting 250,000 bookings over the next three years.

Riparide co-founder Marlon Law said in a press release: “We’re excited to inspire more people to live life fully. Now, more than ever, society needs to disconnect from the stresses they face on the daily and plot weekend escapes.

“It’s fantastic to have such great partners backing Riparide’s mission,” he added.

As lockdowns begin to ease in Australia and vaccination rates rise, Riparide believes that it is well placed to target more demographics that want short nature escapes, in order to help them relax and unplug their batteries away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

That is particularly evident in the millennial generation, which supposedly accounts for the majority of the startup’s users. Around 85 per cent of them are between the ages of 25 and 44, and millennials have played a key role in Riparide reporting a 300 per cent year-on-year increase in bookings despite the pandemic.

Law said: “I think the movement back to nature and outdoors and adventure has been quite evident, especially through the millennials. They’re the ones most plugged in to this modern world, and they’ve got a desire for something unique, something out of the ordinary.

“They’re wanting to go and do trips that help their happiness and wellbeing,” he added.

To satisfy its adventure-seeking guests and remove their feeling of lockdown-induced claustrophobia, Riparide is focusing its attention as much on the guest experience as the minimalist accommodation it provides, and being able to promote an active lifestyle.

While many of the units are accompanied by A-frames, decks or baths, Riparide’s users are able to add activities and experiences to their itinerary that they can then share on social media, such as nearby waterfall visits or hiking trails. In some cases, guests receive GPS coordinates to find their tiny homes that are in the most off-grid, secluded locations available.

Of the companies that have fared best in spite of the pandemic, many have specialised in rural, cabin-style accommodation, with an angle on improving the health and wellness of guests who stay with them. This has been noticeable in the investment in and / or booking surges observed at the likes of Getaway, Unyoked and Raus in recent times, as well as at Riparide.

Macdoch Ventures associate Eliza Jackson said:“Riparide makes new regions easily discoverable with travellers’ stories, ensuring properties are controlled for factors like isolation and adventure. As a result, the time it takes to make a booking is far lower than other sites,” she said.

“Riparide’s impressive growth and engagement metrics are testament to the customer love and community they have created around their mission of helping people find fulfilment.”

Law added: “People have been bunked up in their buildings – people want to be free and get out of that apartment or house and the confinements of Covid. We’ve seen it before and we have no doubt that it’ll be a huge period of people being adventurous and being freed again.”