Williamsport, Pa. - Katie Caputo is a strong believer in “collaborative consumption.” She believes in the sharing economy - Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Airbnb. And now she's adding her contribution, Roambler.
Ten years ago, South Williamsport natives Caputo and her brother, Noah created a transportation business called ‘Last Call!’ which may have helped to prevent many DUIs by providing a driver for late night revelers. Essentially, "Last Call!" was a ridesharing service before Uber and Lyft hit the scene.
“Honestly, it was a great business model," said Caputo. "I was trying to prevent drunk driving. People were driving [drunk] because they wanted their vehicles. It really was a success,” she said.
Slowly, the demands of adulthood took its toll on their business.
“At one point, we just decided not to do it anymore,” said Caputo.
After ‘Last Call!’, life “just took hold,” she said. She went back to work, met her husband, had children.
But Roambler is a product of dedication.
About five years ago, Caputo was inspired to create Roambler while her son was young. With her husband working 12 hours a day, by saving dimes, and working at the Polish Club as a means to finance her idea, she managed to execute her vision.
Roambler.com is a way to connect people. Similar to apps like VanLife.com, Airbnb.com, Strava.com, or WarmShowers.org, Roambler.com is a way of connecting others who have a unique experience or expertise to share with someone looking to have that experience.
For example, a photographer, someone who likes to snowshoe, an alpaca farmer, or a trail runner might list their experience on Roambler.com, and invite someone looking to gain that experience -- to learn photography, try snowshoeing, or learn about alpacas -- to seek out and "rent" it, so to speak.
“It just kind of came to me...I did not want to work my life away...a lot of people in Pa. do this [share experiences], but there is no vast network,” Caputo said of Roambler.
The pandemic put a crimp in her plans, but, at the same time reinforced to Caputo the growing demand for Roambler’s services.
“I did not feel it was socially responsible to bring people together...did not want to put anyone in harm's way,” Caputo said of her new business, which went online last summer.
According to their website, “Roambler is a Peer-to-Peer listing and booking platform that links customers to experiences.”
Hosts receive eighty percent of profits.
“We are going to grow grassroots,” Caputo explained.
Hosts do not have to be a professional guide, but for insurance reasons it is suggested, according to Caputo.
According to Roambler's website, "Finding insurance is easy and affordable. Pennsylvania requires Fishing Guides, Fishing Charters, and Passenger for Hire/Boat Rides to carry insurance to be permitted."
As far as continuing Roambler’s mission, Caputo mentioned they “eventually plan to donate income to programs which support outdoor activities.”
She aims to change the mental health of area residents by inspiring them to love the community they live in.
As of now, Rambler offers consumers local hiking, biking, foraging, and boating opportunities. But Caputo has a bigger vision for Roambler which involve snowmobiling, snowshoeing, backpacking, cross county, and jet skiing.
But that is just to start. Caputo also intends to implement skilled mentorship classes, including art, woodworking, and cooking, among other things.
Caputo said she “hopes every city and small town [in Pa.] will have at least one guide.”
Roambler will have a booth at ‘Saturday Get Out’ in downtown Williamsport on Sat., May 1.
Related reading: First Saturday Get Outdoors festival in Williamsport