The Dyrt Cofounders On Remote Van Life And Startup Insights

Remote life in a camp
Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

The husband and wife co-founders of Portland-based camping app, The Dyrt are taking a truly remote route towards success.

Sarah Smith and Kevin Long have set out on cross-country road trips in their van and plan to spend months working in campgrounds in order to understand the experience they provide to their users. This will help them understand their product better and make changes as needed. The Dyrt is the number one camping app on Google Play and App Store.

“The Dyrt is all about making it easier for people to go find campgrounds. Our whole thought was, ‘Let’s go actually live this as founders after over half a decade of building this platform and this community; let’s go live this for the next six months and let’s make the product be the thing that we use to find our experiences.’ It’s really fun to be on the ground and getting this feedback.”

Kevin Long, Cofounder and CEO, The Dyrt

(As told to GeekWire)

The Dyrt’s policy allows its employees to work from anywhere, as long as they have a good internet connection and signal for a video call.

During the pandemic more people traveled closer to their homes which led to a lot of growth for The Dyrt.

The startup currently has 40 employees and the app lists 40,000 campgrounds and camping spots. The database consists of a whopping 2.5 million pictures, videos, tips and reviews submitted by The Dyrt users. The app took five years to have around a million pieces of user generated content while the other 1.4 million were added in the last 11 months alone.

The company is building a cell coverage feature for campgrounds across the U.S.

“The trajectory is just exploding. We’ve gotten very good at basically finding those people who love to review. It’s pretty awesome.”

Kevin Long, Cofounder and CEO, The Dyrt

The Dyrt has raised around $12 million till now.

“We are a very capital efficient, scrappy startup compared to other players in the space that have just been raising ridiculous amounts of money.”

Kevin Long, Cofounder and CEO, The Dyrt

Kevin Long revealed that they’re selling a $36 Dyrt PRO membership every two minutes. It’s a yearly package that unlocks additional features and discounts for users within the app. The additional features include trip planning, downloadable maps and map overlays for camping on dispersed land. The Dyrt partners with more than a thousand campgrounds across the U.S. and PRO subscribers get a 40% discount in these campgrounds.

Using the product has provided invaluable insight for Smith and Long.

“The fact that I could experience it myself and say, ‘This would make it a lot better,’ is important.”

Sarah Smith, cofounder, The Dyrt

“We do user interviews all the time. Our design and UX team is interviewing people all the time. That cannot replace the founders taking the product and going out and using it for their real existence.”

Kevin Long, Cofounder and CEO, The Dyrt

The duo has set up two small work areas in the van and their dog Brandy tags along with them too. The cofounders expressed that they’re enjoying the “vanlife” for the first time. But they face challenges too.

“It looks like a really great Instagram moment, right? Here’s the hard thing: we’re running a super fast-paced startup that’s growing at a phenomenal rate and I’m on a computer for 10 hours a day, six days a week. We are going to some places, and I’m leaving and I’m like, ‘That didn’t count as visiting that place. I literally sat in this van on this computer.’”

Kevin Long, Cofounder and CEO, The Dyrt

According to Kevin Long, it’s important to remember that the demands in your personal life and work are no different on the road.

“No one cares if you have some problem with internet connection, that’s your problem. When I’m at home, I wake up and I’m good to go. When I’m rolling into a new town, Sarah and I have to research cell service, we have to have water for the week, electricity, battery power. And we need to get to places a day early just to test it and run Zoom calls with people to make sure I’m good to go. And if it doesn’t work, we gotta be ready to pack up and go drive four more hours and find a new spot.”

Kevin Long, Cofounder and CEO, The Dyrt

It’s important to know ones responsibilities as a spouse and as a cofounder. Splitting tasks and having time apart helps.

“We’ve already been through the ringer for seven years at The Dyrt. So we kind of already sorted it. If this was the beginning of a startup world, I would suggest having a house, then once you sort all that, then go crunch it down into a 19-foot van as step two of the process.”

Kevin Long, Cofounder and CEO, The Dyrt

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