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Pitch in and pitch up: Will Smith and Jay-Z take a stake in ‘Airbnb for camping’ startup Hipcamp

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Will Smith Hipcamp

American actor, rapper, media personality and venture capitalist Will Smith.

West Philadelphia born and raised? Is the playground where you spend most of your days? Have a couple of guys who are up to no good started making trouble in your neighbourhood? The Fresh Prince himself may have the answer for you. And no, it’s not moving in with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air.

Rather, Will Smith and Jay-Z have pitched in and pitched up, becoming the latest investors in Hipcamp, a US startup designed to get millenials out of the city and enjoying some fresh air.

The pair have contributed to the startup’s $25 million Series B round — Jay-Z through his VC fund Marcy Venture Partners, and Smith through his Dreamers Fund.

Calling itself the Airbnb of camping, Hipcamp enables people to offer their land to campers, allowing travellers to spend their summer, summer, summertime trips somewhere a bit more interesting than the local campground.

Properties range from private forestland to vineyards to cosy cabins, and are available in all 50 states, from Miami to the Wild West.

 

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A little A-frame nestled under dark skies and apple trees. SiloSide is simply magic. ✨ – ????Book SiloSide, VT on Hipcamp. Link in bio. ????7 miles from Big Deer State Park [email protected]

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For these two US superstars, the investment may seem a little out of their usual field. In fact, they’re not typically seen in fields at all.

However, Marcy Venture Partners co-founder Larry Marcus suggested it’s not as unusual as it might first appear.

The fund is “about investing in culture and where people’s passions, time, and attention are headed”, he explained in a statement.

“Hipcamp is on the forefront of culture, creating meaningful and joyful experiences with the outdoors.”

The Dreamers Fund is also “all about improving lives through technology”, managing partner Kosaku Yada said in a statement.

“Spending more time outside has an undeniable, positive impact on people’s lives, and we’re so excited to support Hipcamp in their mission to get more people enjoying fresh air.”

In a statement, Hipcamp founder and chief Alyssa Ravasia said she is “proud to collaborate with some of the world’s most influential cultural leaders”.

This is the latest in a string of high-profile celebrity startup investments.

In May, Jay-Z also invested in Impossible Burger’s $US3 million Series E round, alongside the likes of Katy Perry, Serena Williams and will.i.am. Will Smith’s son Jaden Smith also invested in the plant-based burger business.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Snopp Dogg has taken a stake in Swedish buy-now-pay-later player Klarna, which is valued at about $5.5 billion.

And, back in March, actor, environmentalist and noughties dreamboat Leonardo Di Caprio doubled down on his commitment to tackle climate change, investing an undisclosed amount in a fund backing startups in the sector.

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].