More than a way to make money
Camp Native calls themselves a market for finding and reserving campsites, making the process automated and seamless in order to plan “your next outdoor adventure.” They encourage you to embrace the outdoors, so it only made sense for them to do the same.
Walking the walk
Like most startups, Camp Native found stability in the fast-paced metropolis of Seattle and were well on their way to expanding their business. However, before following in the footsteps of most tech startups, the CEO David Woodbury decided to try something different.
He began corresponding with an unlikely source in an unlikely location. He emailed Bryan Walker, Executive Director for Spearfish Economic Development, located in Spearfish, South Dakota. Have you ever heard of it? Me neither.
David’s plan was to get some funding in order to move Camp Native to operate out of Spearfish, a small, rural town nestled into the edge of the Black Hills. After emailing back and forth, and eventually finding angel investors, David and his team successfully moved their tech startup to Spearfish in October 2015.
Small town rockstars
So how is a tech startup expected to thrive in such a small town? It’s actually more realistic than it seems.
By relocating, Camp Native cut their cost of operations and now enjoys the benefits of South Dakota’s business friendly tax laws. By doing so, they were able to develop a core team of employees with 0% turn-over in the first year. This is because they can afford to provide their employees with insurance, unlimited vacation and even gym memberships.
In addition, being a big fish in a smaller pond works to their benefit. Camp Native can support their community by participating in events around town.
In David’s words, “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.”
Even though it has only been a year, Spearfish has already signed over 600 properties to their service.
Worth the risk
From the start, Camp Native set out to explore and do things differently. Though David and the team are happy with their move, there are still challenges that they face due to their location, most significantly, access to capital and a major airport.
However, these are issues that they can overcome. David still believes that the pros outweigh the cons and expects Camp Native to keep prospering as time goes on. In this case, Silicon Valley was not the way to achieve success.