A CONVERSATION WITH
NIKI CHOO, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO,
1. Tell us a little bit about Campsyte, your customers, and the demand you are seeing in your market.
Our big mission is to get people outside. Campsyte is building urban outdoor spaces, kind of like an adult playground modeled after campgrounds. We design space so people can work and play, meet, eat, and drink outside. Each site is equipped with all the amenities to make it fun to be outside. We are open for co-working and events. We know that spending time outside is good for us on so many levels: it improves productivity by 19%; creativity and feelings of well-being increase. This is why companies use us, because they see the benefits of allowing their workers time to be outside. Our customers include big tech companies like Airbnb, Google, and Paypal; and smaller startups like Reside and Strava. We've grown entirely through word of mouth and currently get 4 times as many inquires for space than we can fill.
2. Can you share a bit about your background and how you ended up working on this? Was there a “Eureka” moment for you?
I grew up in Canada with a love of the outdoors. I started whitewater kayaking when I was fourteen and eventually convinced the owner of the rafting company where I learned to train me as a guide. I was soon assistant kayak instructing and raft guiding. This time outside really shaped who I was and how I draw energy from nature. It's been a theme throughout my life and even when I was investment banking I would take time to mountain bike before heading back to work late hours. I also grew up with an entrepreneurial father who started a residential development company and learned a lot about city planning, zoning, and construction. When I met Dennis, my co-founder, we started collaborating on how to make our cities better and stumbled upon Campsyte's current model. I really liked to work outside and there were no good places to do that in the city. That's when we decided to turn towards outdoor space in the city.
3. What makes up a Campsyte and what kind of amenities do you provide?
Each of our sites has WiFi, electricity, beer, kombucha, cold brew on tap, outdoor seating, lighting, fire pit, hammocks, trees. The images below should give you a good idea.
4. How do you work with property owners? How receptive have they been to Campsyte as a tenant?
We work with parking lot operators as well as land owners. For the most part, people have been very receptive to the idea. We're improving space and in general, for those that are losing money, like parking lot operators, to Uber and Lyft, we're a welcome change to their dwindling bottom line.
5. What’s one thing you’ve learned about running a company that you would share with other founders?
There are too many lessons to count! It's been a really fun ride so far, and I can't wait to be doing this for the next 10 to 15 years. I think that would be my one advice to other founders: do something that you feel is worthwhile. A lot of people get stuck on passion, but I think it's more about working on something that can sustain your interest for years and years. If I've learned anything, it's just to keep at it, and keep going, because if you believe in what you're doing, you'll find a way to succeed.