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