Nic De Castro of LandTrust

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Nic De Castro (founder and CEO) of LandTrust, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of LandTrust – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

LandTrust was created for two groups:

  1. For landowners who need to adapt to maintain their lands, LandTrust offers an online platform that elevates their management of hunters for more than just two weeks of the year by attracting interest in land use during all hunting seasons, creating new recreational interest, and developing demand where there was little.
  2. For sportsmen and outdoor recreation seekers, LandTrust offers access for hire to private land. The genesis of LandTrust came from my own ‘pain’ that I had experienced in the marketplace as a sportsman seeking access to private lands for outdoor experiences. I was eager to pay for access to private land, but there was no simple, safe, non-disruptive way to connect with landowners who would be interested in allowing access. Having been a host on Airbnb for years and experiencing the benefits of that marketplace, it was natural to apply that model to this market.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

In the beginning, I heard from folks on the demand side of the marketplace and folks who weren’t either on the supply or demand side tell me that “landowners would never do that” for a myriad of reasons. I made it my responsibility and mission to make sure that I listened to all legitimate objections from my prospective customers, but also that I would not be discouraged from my vision by those who weren’t in the arena.

What does the future hold for LandTrust?

At LandTrust, we believe the future sustainability of private working lands will depend on a portfolio of income streams from agricultural production to recreational and conservation income. The future of LandTrust is one where farmers and ranchers leverage LandTrust to generate significant income for their operations from multiple types of recreational and conservation-related activities and practices. For the consumer, LandTrust will be a platform where they discover amazing outdoor experiences on private lands. The higher-level goal for LandTrust is to reconnect the 99% of the population who don’t produce our food, fuel, and fiber with the hard-working families who’ve dedicated their lives, for generations, to farming/ranching and elevate the incredible land stewardship that they do on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Montana?

The tech startup scene in Montana is definitely growing, especially here in Bozeman. We’ve got access to local capital at the pre-seed through Series A stages from organizations like The Frontier Angels and Next Frontier Capital. We’ve got a growing talent pipeline that was greatly sped up by the Zoom Boom of COVID.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Work on something you actually care about. There are many ideas out there for businesses that could make money, but it’s incredibly difficult to will a company into existence, which is what being a founder is. You’ll need to actually care about the problem your business is working on, your customers, and the market you’re working in to sustain you through the inevitable struggles you’ll face as you build the business.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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