At the age of 47, entrepreneur Victoria Livschitz was looking for some inspiration in her life. She was decades into a career in Silicon Valley working for and founding several tech companies but was feeling burnt out.
One day, in 2017, she overheard several “much younger, much fitter” friends mention a plan to hike the John Muir Trail, an iconic 230-mile route through the High Sierras.
“I just became fascinated,” Livschitz said. “It just captured me, and I asked if there was any chance I could join them. And I was not athletic in any way — I didn’t walk 10 miles in the previous 10 years.”
It happened that her friends had an extra spot on their permit, and they agreed that if Livschitz spent a few months training and could prove herself on a trial trip, she could join the trek.
“My first backpacking trip was a 16-day John Muir trek. And that just blew my mind,” Livschitz said. “It literally changed the course of my life.”
Livschitz, a self-described “serial entrepreneur,” came away from her first backpacking trip with a head full of questions, namely why it had taken her nearly five decades to discover this new passion.
“The answer is obviously that the barrier is too high,” Livschitz said. “Part of it is skills, part of it is gear, part of it is food … there’s just so much that actually goes into going in the wilderness, enjoying it and coming back safely.”
“I sort of conquered a lot of these barriers in a short time as an adult, and being an entrepreneur, I sort of said, ‘I think I can eliminate a lot of these by a combination of technology and services,’” Livschitz continued. “And so this mission, which is deeply personal to me, is to open up the great outdoors.”
With a small group of friends, Livschitz launched RightOnTrek, a company that she describes as having the ultimate goal of being the Grand Central of planning outdoor adventures, big and small.
Livschitz describes the company as a way of rethinking each step of planning an outdoor excursion. While there are a growing number of apps geared toward the outdoors, such as the popular hiking app AllTrails, Livschitz’s company is focused on more in-depth, comprehensive trip planning. She compares it to a travel agency tackling the logistics of an international trip.
Included in RightOnTrek’s offerings are custom-made itineraries that cover all necessary recreation permits and break down treks by user ability, AI-created meal planning using individual data and gear rentals.
Livschitz notes that there isn’t a good platform to comprehensively plan adventures, but “there’s an unlimited amount of tech that increasingly adds more and more value to the outdoors by letting you compare gear lists, compare food, get permits and then share trip reports and interact with others.”
RightOnTrek isn’t the first time Livschitz has mixed her life’s passions with business. Livschitz was the Lithuanian national chess champion at the age of 17, and gave chess lessons to help pay for college after moving to the United States. Livschitz once advertised the lessons by playing 26 games simultaneously in a park, losing just three of them.
Almost by accident, she ended up building a professional chess academy, and in the early days of the Internet she took the academy online, collaborating with friends who were chess grandmasters to give lectures and write guides to the game.
“We weren’t prepared for this experiment to start taking over our lives — we just thought it was a fun project,” Livschitz said, adding that she ultimately made the decision to shut down the chess academy in order to focus on her career.
After spending years as a software architect, Livschitz decided cloud computing was the wave of the future and founded Grid Dynamics in 2006, eventually taking the company public last spring.
While RightOnTrek is the latest in a string of business endeavors, Livschitz feels that the company is different.
“In the past I’ve always made products for somebody else and I couldn’t always relate to them,” Livschitz said. “Now, I mean, we literally eat our own food. I build my hiking plans using my software.”
Since the company first launched in 2018, RightOnTrek has garnered more than 10,000 users. As the company is gradually scaling up, Livschitz says it has operated various offerings as experimental prototypes, similar to how a tech company launches beta versions of software, figuring out what works for groups of differing ability levels.
The meal-planning offering was the latest to launch. The company uses AI software to plan out the caloric needs for users and packages a day’s worth of food together, including hot breakfasts and dinners. The company’s test kitchen is focused on getting away from freeze-dried meals and making fresher, easy-to-cook meals that won’t weigh down a pack.
Livschitz moved to Montana last fall, deciding that Whitefish would make an ideal location for the company’s headquarters with its proximity to Glacier National Park and the sheer amount of public lands.
The hope is for a brick-and-mortar shop that will include a commercial kitchen, gear warehouse and operations center, but Livschitz acknowledges that the company is on “stage 1.5 out of a 10 stage process.”
One of the next stages includes completing a database of all the biking trails in northern Montana, and then digitizing the national parks and wilderness areas.
“We’ll put our Silicon Valley diligence behind digitizing every piece of record that we can find to make this nice database to explore,” Livschitz said. “We’re figuring out how to enable people to collectively and collaboratively put together an awesome wilderness quest.”
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