The lightbulb moment for Jim McGovern came after setting up two Ontario teenagers with a local to show them around Whistler. “They had the best day of skiing ever,” McGovern remembers. “The ‘local’ elevated the experience. Inside knowledge is something most of us want when we find ourselves somewhere new, but there was no platform for meeting up with a local.”
So McGovern started one. Yervana launched in June 2018. For a fee it matches “explorers” and “locals” with skills and knowledge to share. Locals apply to have their trips listed on the site and activities range from nature photography to ski mountaineering. It’s part of a growing number of websites and apps aiming to link the adventurous with guides to fuel their stoke, including AirBnB Experiences and Heli, a bespoke adventure matchmaker.
Vancouver-based Yervana is separating itself by working with government and industries to allow its Locals (insured to $2 million) to work in national parks, provincial parks and private lands.
“Collaboration is at the core of Yervana’s DNA,” McGovern says. The one he’s most excited about is a new partnership with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides that allows its members to become Locals on the site while allowing Yervana to offer backcountry skiing for the first time.
And he’s pursuing the inspiration for the app too. Soon, ski instructors, resort guides and mountain hosts could all be on the app, too. McGovern sees a day in the very near future, where the ski instructors’ profiles, reviews and ratings will all be in the palm of your hand. “The path to purchase has changed, and the younger generation wants to make a social connection and know what they are getting before the purchase.”