If You Build It, Kevin Costner Will Come

Punch Buggy, iSpy, and TikTok finally have some competition.

HearHere, a subscription-based audio app built to educate road trippers about their surroundings, has bagged a $2 million capital raise and an A-list celebrity narrator.

Kevin Costner – famed actor and neighbor of Hearhear CEO – has joined as financial backer and narrator.

Americans Rediscovered the Road in 2020

HearHere – which will tell stories about geographic history, natural wonders, and colorful characters who have lived in the area – has 5,500 stories recorded across 22 states and plans to be nationwide by summer.

They’re banking that enough users will pay $35.99 per year for a subscription to get access to the unknown history around them on their road trips, voiced by the Dances With Wolves and Field of Dreams star.

There’s reason to believe they have a growing audience:

  • According to U.S. government data, in the first two weeks of August Americans drove 12 million long-distance (100-500 mile) road trips per day, compared to 8.6 million in 2019. In other words, they hit the road almost 40% more than the year before.

“We see this as augmented reality in that these stories really do overlay the landscape and give you a different perspective while traveling,” said CEO Sears.

Been There, Done That

It remains to be seen whether location-based narrative or storytelling apps can find scale in a world surrounded by a million other distractions.

  • Walking tour app Detour was sold to Bose in 2018, which only wanted its software and content and promptly shut the app down.
  • Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake’s Findery, which lets travelers share localized info with one another, has been largely dormant for years and never took off.

But HearHere counters that struggle with two strategic investors: AAA, which has 57 million U.S. members, and Camping World, which owns the Good Sam Club, the largest organization of RV owners in the world. Other prominent investors include Snap and Costner himself.

the takeaway

“Greatness courts failure,” said Costner’s Roy McAvoy in Tin Cup. Now the actor can put that to test in the real world.

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