Small Town Tech Startup, Camp Native, is Now Serving Over 12,000 Campsites

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Camp Native, the fastest growing marketing and campground reservation platform in the US, is now serving over 12,000 campsites nationwide from the small town of Spearfish, South Dakota.

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

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.

In the summer of 2015 Camp Native, a tech startup located in Seattle, WA, graduated from 9Mile Labs, a B2B Technology accelerator, and was in the midst of completing a seed round.

Founder and CEO, David Woodbury, had the idea of building Camp Native (a marketplace for finding and reserving accommodations for your next outdoor adventure), in a community that embraced the outdoors.

In October of 2015, Camp Native moved their operations from the robust tech ecosystem of Seattle, WA, to a small rural town in South Dakota called Spearfish with the help of Spearfish Economic Development (SEDC) and Angel Investors. A town of just over 10,000 people, Spearfish had made several top ten lists from sites like National Geographic and Outside Online. The business friendly tax laws of the state of South Dakota, lower cost of operations, and the growing popularity of this small town made this an ideal location for the company.

Today, Camp Native is serving more than 12,000 campsites nationwide from a 3,500 sq ft office space in a historic building on Main St. downtown Spearfish. The company now has 10 full-time employees working diligently to on board and assist properties with utilizing their growing platform.

Camp Native is the fastest growing recreational property reservation platform on the planet. They have signed over 600 properties in less than a year of sales efforts. Woodbury says, “In less than a year we’ve signed more reservable properties to our platform than is offered by KOA who’s been in business for 56 years." They are disrupting a billion dollar industry from a sleepy little mountain town in South Dakota.

Woodbury is proud of what they’ve accomplished in their 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 fund in town. He says, “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.”

“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.” - Steffanie Salazar SEDC Executive Director

Although technology can bridge geographic gaps, challenges still exist with operating a tech startup in a small town. Woodbury says 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 believes that the pros far outweigh the cons and he’s glad he made the move both from a personal and professional standpoint.

About Camp Native
Camp Native is a trusted marketplace for campgrounds and campers, enabling them 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 Park 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 is the solution. Campground owners can take advantage of these services at no cost on campnative.com.

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Jessica Goehring
Camp Native
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