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Startup Corner: Danny Collins, 37 North Expeditions LLC

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Minimally viable product …
I spent four years guiding in New York state and also spent some time as the expedition manager for a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World in the rainforest of Ecuador. When I returned to Springfield, I decided to bring that basis of knowledge and skill set to help more people get out and explore the Ozarks. 37 North Expeditions is a full-service guiding company that has many trip options around the Ozarks.
 
Problem solving …
Our product is convenience. We handle all the logistics, including trip planning and transportation, so all a guest has to do is show up and explore. This makes our trips a great alternative form of exercise or an enjoyable social experience with other like-minded people.

Seed money …
Given our company is in the service industry and that we sell tickets before the day of the trip, we have been able to start up with very minimal funding. Our largest initial cost was insurance, which runs just over $1,000 per year. We also have a few thousand into various marketing efforts, ranging from website/brochures to physical items, such as shirts and decals. We also had a few thousand in what we would classify as research and development to scope out potential trip locations. All in all, we had around $5,000 in startup costs.

Next phase …
We just ended the trial phase of testing out trips, creating a name within the community and attracting return customers. The “branches” we are targeting next for 37N are tourism (Branson/Springfield), private/corporate outings and diversifying our trip types. We plan to have multiple trip options each weekend and start to insert some more advanced trips, such as overnight backpacking and more intense day hiking. In 2019, we also plan to announce our first multiday adventure travel trip (think Montana or Colorado) and our first international adventure travel trip (think Ecuador or Machu Picchu).

Best advice received …
Early on, we had an article [in Springfield News-Leader] come out that brought a bunch of attention to the company, good and bad attention, that we were not quite prepared to address, given our stage of startup at that point. A true adviser told me that obstacles and threats are a good thing; it means you are on to something.
 
Greatest need …
Affordable transportation options. We are doing a great job at keeping our pricing at a place we are comfortable with ... but the largest cost is transportation rental. If we could find alternative options that decrease that cost, our pricing would be more stable and comfortable in the long run.

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