Camp Native’s Growing In Its South Dakota HQ
Small towns have recently been the focus of a diversification of the tech industry, and Camp Native has embraced all that small towns have to offer, the company said in an annoucnement.
In the summer of 2015 Camp Native, a tech startup located in Seattle, Wash., graduated from 9Mile Labs, a business-to-business technology accelerator, and was in the midst of completing a round of funding.
Founder and CEO David Woodbury had the idea of building Camp Native, a marketplace for finding and reserving outdoor accommodations, in a community that embraced the outdoors.
In October of 2015, Camp Native moved their operations from the robust tech ecosystem of Seattle to Spearfish, S.D., with the help of the Spearfish Economic Development Corp. (SEDC) and investors. A town of about 10,000 people, Spearfish had made several top 10 lists from sites like National Geographic and Outside Online. The business-friendly tax laws of South Dakota, lower cost of operations, and the growing popularity of this small town made it an ideal location for the company.
Today, Camp Native is serving more than 12,000 campsites nationwide from a 3,500-square-foot headquarters in a historic building on Main Street in downtown Spearfish. The company now has 10 full-time employees.
Camp Native describes itself as the fastest-growing recreational property reservation platform on the planet. They have signed more than 600 properties in less than a year of sales efforts.
Woodbury said he is proud of what the company accomplished in its first year. “We came in and did things different from the start, we knew what the going rate was for sales personnel in this community and we chose to pay 30% higher base salaries. We offered benefits such as health insurance bonus, gym memberships, and unlimited vacation. As a result, we have an amazing core team, 0% turnover, and advocates of our business across the community. We also make sure to get out as a team and support community events.” With reduced costs of operations, the Camp Native team is able to get out and become involved with unique experiences.
Woodbury hasn’t stopped with Camp Native. He’s helped develop another tech startup in the community by supporting another entrepreneur on the technology side as well as launching a digital marketing agency. He’s even moved a key executive from Miami to Spearfish, and is assisting in launching an angel investor fund in town. He said, “In Seattle, I’m just another entrepreneur trying to build a company. In Spearfish, we are rock stars, but more importantly we can have an impact on this community and I can see and feel tangible evidence of that.”
Steffanie Salazar, executive director of SEDC, said, “Camp Native is still an early stage business, but many in the community view it as already successful. Camp Native has come in and provided a new way of doing things, they treat their people well, and they are invested in the community. Spearfish Economic Development took a risk when they committed funds to bring a pre-revenue tech startup to Spearfish, but so far it’s paying huge dividends.”
Although technology can bridge geographic gaps, challenges still exist with operating a tech startup in a small town. Woodbury said that the biggest challenges are access to capital and a major airport. Woodbury does most of the fundraising for Camp Native outside of South Dakota so it can be costly and time consuming to get in front of the right investors. Even so, it can be done using platforms like Gust, Angel List, LinkedIn, and F6S. At the end of the day, Woodbury said he believes that the pros far outweigh the cons and he’s glad he made the move both from a personal and professional standpoint.
Camp Native allows campgrounds and campers to list, discover, and reserve the perfect campsite. Camp Native connects people to their optimum camping experience, whether in a remote tent site, an RV resort, a cabin in the woods, or an upscale lodge. For campground owners seeking to expand their marketing capabilities, grow their audience, and increase their sales, Camp Native offers a solution. Campground owners can take advantage of these services at no cost on campnative.com.