Nic De Castro from LandTrust
LandTrust validated their concept and raised a $6 million Series A funding round
LandTrust connects outdoor enthusiasts with private landowners across the U.S. to build a more sustainable future for working lands.
"I could test our hypothesis right away - without reinventing the wheel".
– Nic de Castro, founder of LandTrust
Growing up, you could always find Nic De Castro out in the wilderness, hunting and fishing. After college, he found himself living in New York City, working in tech and enjoying a front-row seat to the transformative effect platforms like Airbnb were having on his community.
Later, when Nic moved to Montana, he quickly saw an issue only a marketplace business could solve: connecting outdoor enthusiasts with private landowners. He explains:
“Whenever we wanted to hunt, fish, forage, or bird watch on private land, we had to track down the owner and ask their permission. It was really difficult and took away from the magic of being out in the wild – but I knew it was a problem I could solve.”
The vision for LandTrust was born: a marketplace that would allow the outdoor recreation community to easily and safely connect with private landowners.
Nic had founded a marketplace business previously and knew that alone, his idea meant nothing.
"Execution is everything. My hypothesis as a founder was not 'Can I technically build a marketplace?' It was 'Can I get supply and demand to talk to each other, transact, and like the experience enough to come back?'"
Nic’s search for a ready-made solution quickly brought him to Sharetribe. Working together with a developer, he was able to quickly build and launch LandTrust on Sharetribe in October 2019.
As Nic explains, creating a high-quality marketplace was crucial in driving adoption: “It’s a very high-touch, high-trust environment. Our users are often paying thousands of dollars per booking to hunt on land for a few days, and our landowners are letting people on to their property with weapons. Building trust has been central to our success.”
Since launching in 2019, growth has come fast. Users from 37 U.S. states have joined LandTrust, and recently Nic raised an additional $6 million in funding to continue the platform’s expansion. Nic reflects on the journey so far:
“If we’d had to raise the money from investors to build a marketplace platform by ourselves, I’m not sure where we’d be today. The marketplace technology isn’t what makes LandTrust valuable: it’s the relationships we’re building between outdoor enthusiasts and landowners.”
As LandTrust’s expansion continues, the team remains loyal to the Sharetribe platform. “We’re abstracting certain features from Sharetribe into our future plans and using the API to add a lot of powerful integrations to our platform,” comments Nic.
“One of the biggest benefits is that we don’t have to build or maintain the platform's infrastructure – it’s very economical.”
Nic continues to grow his team and the LandTrust network. Today, 17 people work for LandTrust and there are over one million acres of land available for users to explore through the LandTrust platform.
“So far, we’ve been more than doubling every year, but we know marketplace businesses take a long time to scale. Our focus is on making the product as great as it can be, and Sharetribe is a major part of that.”
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