A Telluride-based camping app went digging for gold in October.
The Dyrt, which has crowd-sourced more than 4 million photos, reviews and tips of 44,000 campgrounds around the country, raised $11 million in capital in October.
The camping startup plans to use the funds to double the size of its company, which currently has a staff of 40, and grow its annual pro subscription. The funding round was led by California-based Realization Capital Partners.
“Over the last five years, we focused on winning the most active camping community, which means we have more user-submitted photos, reviews and tips of campgrounds than anyone else on the Internet,” said co-founder Kevin Long, who called from a campervan in South Carolina. “And, now that we’ve built up that community, we’ve now turned on our monetization strategy, which is The Dyrt Pro subscription.”
The Dyrt was born out of the 2015 Telluride Venture Accelerator and founded by husband and wife, and avid campers, Long and Sarah Smith after they grew frustrated over not being able to find adequate campground information online.
It’s now the No.1-ranked camping app on the Apple and Google Play app stores, and has 30 million annual visits between the app and website, according to Long.
Smith and Long choose the best reviewer in each state at the end of each month to win prizes, which currently include gift cards worth $150 and $100 from outdoor retailers.
“When you’re looking for an Airbnb, you want to see pictures and reviews and know what you’re getting,” Long said. “Camping is no different.”
In addition to leaving reviews, videos, photos and tips for specific campgrounds, users can directly book a private campsite, glamping spot, or RV space on the app or website. The Dyrt features 1,557 private Colorado campgrounds with almost 6,500 reviews.
The startup is also about to launch site availability for many public campgrounds, which will give users the ability to see what’s available for specific dates and be transferred to the public campground site for the actual booking.
Last year, The Dyrt rolled out its pro annual subscription for $36 a year, which enables users to receive camping discounts, plan road trips, find free camping areas on public lands and use the app offline.
Long said sales have tripled in 2021 and users are signing up for the subscription every five minutes. He would not disclose the number of paid subscribers.
Before this, the app and website made revenue from outdoor brands’ sponsored content.
“That was great revenue to help build our community and broaden our reach because we could leverage these outdoor brands,” Long said. “But then once we became bigger than a lot of these brands with our reach and email following, that’s when it was time to turn to a consumer subscription app.”
Smith and Long left their home in Portland and throughout 2021 have been traveling across the U.S. in a campervan, using their subscription app as a guide. They started in Jenny Lake, Wyoming, which was the No.1 ranked campground in the U.S. on The Dyrt, and have made their way through Colorado, Virginia and Minnesota, among other states.
The company has 11 job openings posted. The Dyrt’s staff is remote, although Long said they’re targeting Colorado hires for the upcoming year. The founders tell employees that anyone can work from anywhere if they have strong internet service and are able to join a video call during regular work hours.