Area woman’s business connects people to nature
A desire to introduce people to the natural resources the area has to offer inspired Katie Caputo Noll to launch Roambler, a web-based business which brings together those seeking to learn more with those who know more.
“About five years ago, I got the idea for Roambler because I was thinking about our area and how we have all these amazing natural that we can explore, but there are a lot of people who maybe feel they can’t explore them because they don’t have a host or mentor to show them these experiences,” Caputo Noll said, describing the moment when the idea was germinated.
Caputo Noll, 34, grew up in South Williamsport and spent a lot of her time with her family enjoying their river lot, water-skiing, boating, jet skiing, fishing, kayaking and hiking. Basically everything that the area has to offer.
“We’ve had a river lot for a long time and we’ve been able to have a love of the river for that reason. I think there are so many people in the area that the river is inaccessible to because you need the experience or the skills of a mentor to be able to experience that,” she said.
“The river is like my great love. So, when I think of my home, so this is my home Williamsport-South Williamsport, I think of the river. That always keeps me going,” she said.
Caputo Noll, who is the mother of two children, credits that love of the river for inspiring her to begin her business.
“I wanted to create Roambler so that other people could access those experiences through hosts, guides, mentors,” she explained.
‘I want as many people as possible to be able to experience things that are our public resources,” she added.
At first Caputo Noll wasn’t sure that she would be able to bring her dream to fruition, but in July, she officially launched the website for Roambler. Because of the pandemic, although the website was up, she did not book any experiences because she felt it wouldn’t be right to have people travelling to areas where cases of COVID-19 were particularly low, such as in The Wilds region of the state.
Roambler is not just for those in the area, but Caputo Noll wants the coverage to extend throughout the state.
“There are people who are doing these things–there are people who love to fish, they love to hike, they love to mountain bike, they love to go on trail rides. They have these experiences to share and now they have a platform where they can share these experiences with others,” she stated.
Currently Caputo Noll has four Roambler hosts representing interests in boating, backpacking and kayaking in this area and one in the Cumberland Valley who would like to share mountain biking. Caputo also is a Roambler host sharing her experience in kayaking.
As part of the sharing economy, similar to Uber and Airbnb, people can go to the Rambler website and sign up and become either a customer or a host.
“You sign up, you create a profile, complete your profile and if you want to host, you create a listing. It’s pretty simple and easy to use. Create your listing and publish your listing and then you’re a Roambler host,” Caputo explained.
There is also a passport which allows users to collect experiences. Everyone who signs up for Roambler receives a passport. Hosts receive the passport and a host stamp which has been customized for their area of expertise.
“When a customer books the experience, they bring their passport and the host of that experience stamps their passport with their custom stamp,” she said.
When anyone signs up on the site, their emails are verified. There is also a document verification where documents can be shared so that the credentials of hosts can be verified.
“If a host says that they are a certified nature therapy host, they will share that documentation. For our fishing and boating experiences, Pennsylvania has regulations for fishing and boating. To be a fishing guide in Pennsylvania you have to pay the state and become an actual fishing guide. We require that of fishing guides and they’ll share that information with Roambler,” she explained.
Caputo Noll envisioned adding other types of experiences to the Roambler line-up.
I would like to have lots of experiences and lots of hosts on the site. I’d like to have any experiences that people can live in the wilds. I’d like survival experiences, bee-keeping experiences, foraging, mushroom hunting…hiking, backpacking, boating, fishing, even fourwheeling,” she said.
“There’s also an area for skills. If you have a special skill, like if you’re a carpenter and you’re really great at carpentry, you could list a carpentry experience, because people may want to learn that. That’s where the skilled mentorship side of it comes in,” she added.
Cultural experiences are another area Caputo Noll said that someone could share.
“We have various different cultures in Pennsylvania as well and I would like people to be able to share their cultural experiences with others,” she noted.
Hosts set fees for their experiences and Roambler receives a of that fee for their service.
“Mostly I’d like people to know that if they have these skills and these experiences to share, that they can join Roambler and earn money in their free time sharing these skills with others, and that I really believe that it will create stronger communities across Pennsylvania,” she said.
“Another goal is introducing more people to these experiences will also promote conservation. When you grow up with a love of the river or a love of the mountains, you’re going to respect those mountains. If you have a mentor to share that with you that’s where you learn that,” she added.
To find out how to become a Roambler host or to book an experience visit Roambler’s website at: www.roambler.com
Caputo Noll said that the site is now open for bookings.