SUM­MER DREAMIN’

BUSI­NESS MAV­ER­ICK ARI AC ERMAN, FOUNDER OF BUN , ACHIEVED RUN­AWAY SUC­CESS BY AP­PLY­ING TECH SMARTS TO HIS LIFE­LONG LOVE FOR CAMP CUL­TURE.

Hamptons Magazine - - Contents - BY AN­DREW C. STONE

Busi­ness mav­er­ick Ari Ack­er­man, founder of Bunk1, achieved run­away suc­cess by ap­ply­ing tech smarts to his life­long love for camp cul­ture.

Your kids are away at camp. Do you check on­line to view pics of them at swim lessons or singing songs around the fire? If so, you can thank Ari Ack­er­man. The Man­hat­tan-based phi­lan­thropist’s Bunk1 is the on­line por­tal of choice for camps.

Ack­er­man con­ceived the idea in 1999 while study­ing man­age­ment at North­west­ern. Eager to grant par­ents a peek into their chil­dren’s camp lives while keep­ing kids free to play and bond, he grad­u­ated hell-bent on bring­ing Bunk1 to life. When ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists failed to see the po­ten­tial, Ack­er­man drove cross-coun­try, con­nect­ing with camp own­ers and build­ing grass­roots en­thu­si­asm.

He raised enough money to get Bunk1 go­ing at about 60 camps. Par­ents were soon send­ing Bun­knotes, to be printed out and dis­trib­uted in-cabin, and view­ing pass­word­pro­tected photos. “It was a one-way win­dow,” Ack­er­man says. “Par­ents wanted to know their child was okay, and it kept the kids off the com­puter while at camp. It brought tech­nol­ogy with­out in­ter­rupt­ing the magic.”

Bunk1 has since served more than 5 mil­lion cus­tomers, de­liv­ered 25 mil­lion Bun­knotes, and posted over 35 mil­lion images. New ser­vices fol­lowed, in­clud­ing on­line camp reser­va­tions, a med­i­cal data­base, and tech­nol­ogy that dig­i­tizes kids’ hand­writ­ten let­ters.

Ack­er­man re­cently sold the com­pany for $10 mil­lion and is fo­cus­ing on his next ven­ture, Jewish dat­ing app Tribe. But Ack­er­man will al­ways be Bunk1’s dot­ing dad. “I’m so proud,” he says, “that Bunk1 truly helps peo­ple.” bunk1.com

Ari Ack­er­man lets kids and par­ents share the ex­pe­ri­ence of sum­mer camp via Bunk 1. be­low, from left: Camp Brook­woods; Camp Set­toga, JCC Man­hat­tan.

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