Ep. 39 Nic De Castro: LandTrust & Making Conservation Profitable

Nic is an entrepreneur who built technology companies in Silicon Valley, New York, LA & Boulder over the past decade. He is now based in Bozeman, MT where he’s building LandTrust, a marketplace that enables sportsmen to book hunting trips on private lands across the US. Through LandTrust, they aim to increase quality, private-land access for sportsmen and create a new, profitable revenue stream for rural landowners like farmers & ranchers to keep rural lands intact & in family hands.

In this episode, we talked about how Nic came up with the idea for LandTrust, how they provide people the opportunity to go out and have experiences with their friends and family with nature, how to make potential income through LandTrust and the importance of conservation.

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Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Eric Malzone 0:00
We're live Nick de Castro. Welcome to the Black Diamond podcast, my friend.

Nic De Castro 0:04
Yeah. Thanks for having me, Eric.

Eric Malzone 0:06
Yeah, it's exciting. I've been wanting to talk about land trusts I've been talking to about, to my friends and colleagues about it for, really since our initial conversation a few months ago. So it's great to have the ability to dig into it a little bit more. And I'm really excited to tie in what you're currently doing, what the platform is all about, and the purpose that you have behind it into also the grand vision that you have, you know, years down the road for where this could go. And the best place to start. Always Nick is just you. Give us your backstory, man, how did you get to be the founder of land? trust.com?

Nic De Castro 0:41
Yeah, sure. It's been a, it's definitely taken a winding path to get here. So I was born in Southern California, don't tell our Montana friends. And I was born in Laguna Beach and grew up right outside of it. You know, I was always at the beach, spear fishing or surfing just in and around the water hunting out there in the deserts. And then I went to school in Boston, and then moved to New York after and kind of started in the digital advertising world, for my career. And I spent about a decade doing marketing and advertising technology and lived in New York and Chicago, Boston, LA, San Francisco, Boulder, and then found my way up here to Bozeman. So you know, ad tech and marketing tech was a was a really interesting industry, I think I was lucky to be in it at a time of explosive growth there. I think when I first got in and 2010, I don't even know if Facebook had advertising it. If it did, it was very, very new. So getting to see the proliferation of that and really understanding how to digitally acquire and retain users. Super important skill sets, I think for founders today, especially startup founders, but you know, it wasn't the most fulfilling of jobs, was able to pay the bills. And you know, I'm grateful for that. But working on land trust now is definitely a bit more fulfilling from that perspective.

Eric Malzone 2:17
Where did you go to school in Boston?

Nic De Castro 2:19
I went to bu he did.

Eric Malzone 2:21
Do we know that? I went to Boston College?

Nic De Castro 2:23
Oh, no way. Yeah. So yeah, you went to a school that's called Boston College. It's not in Boston. I went to Boston University, which is in Boston. It was one of the most annoying things you tell people are gonna be like, Oh, you got a Boston College? Boston University.

Eric Malzone 2:40
Kind of Fun fact, Boston College is one of five I guess, universities, or post or post grad? what's the word I'm looking for? It's one of only five universities that don't have the word University in the name. Oh, so people can go search that out? little fun fact for today. So, land trust what what was the impetus man? When when did the light bulb go off?

Nic De Castro 3:07
Yeah, that's a good question. So when I was doing my ton of travels, I did about a million miles I was in sales for my entire career. So living on planes and in airports and doing all that so I didn't get a lot of hunting and fishing done during my 20s I would say which, you know, I love I love to hunt and fish. And when I went out to Boulder to work for my now, one of my board members, and his company that was kind of reintroducing me back into the outdoors, Boulder, you know, boulders right there at the foothills of the mountains and started to fish and, you know, hunt more. And it was really kind of like, Hey, you know, I think I'm, I think I'm good with cities. I think I'll kind of want to get back out and do this, this type of stuff. So then I moved up to Bozeman after Boulder, and, you know, lantra started as a way to scratch my own itch. And for those of you who haven't heard of Lanchester, seen it I started it with the intention of being sort of like Airbnb or vrb. O but for

hunting and fishing on private lands. You know, we're we're blessed out here in the Rocky Mountain West with a ton of public land that you know, any and all of us can go out, and fish and recreate on which is amazing. But inevitably, any hunters that are listening to this, there's always awesome looking private property where turns out a lot of animals like the Hangout. And so that was sort of the impetus for it. I had been a really early Airbnb host in New York City. Back when I was living there. In 2011, I think I joined as a host. So I had already seen the power of the sharing economy. And so that that kind of model was ingrained in me. And so when I saw this problem of it's really a marketplace problem of, you know, how do we connect supply and demand Hear and remove the friction and opacity from it. So that was the impetus for me starting landrus was really to scratch my own itch.

Eric Malzone 5:11
Yeah, it's it's really interesting to me seeing the, you know, we'll just call it the Airbnb model because they they really deserve that. But it being applied to so many different things, you know, the Airbnb model applied to swimming pools, right? Yes, in California and yes, places that have swimming pools, and where else have you just had a curiosity? Where have you seen this type of model applied to that's been pretty creative? And maybe surprise you a little?

Nic De Castro 5:35
Well? Yeah, I mean, the swimming pool. One is definitely you're getting out to the really niche use cases. And in the sharing economy, you know, I believe there's a lot of power in it. But there are people who, you know, are detractors from it. And sometimes for good reasons.

You know,

I have really focused and studied sort of Airbnb and VR, vo and more in that kind of like, home sharing, just from, you know, what I've looked at for as I build this company. So I know that there's all sorts of interesting use cases that people have applied it to. But that's really I think I've seen one for saunas in Europe. So I enjoy saunas. I don't know that that would proliferate here, though. In the US. Yeah.

Eric Malzone 6:30
Yeah. That would be a little. Yeah, I just can't see. Yeah, that's, that gets a little odd. You know, I be curious, I'm 44. I feel like I can easily kind of bridge the gap between generations, I can understand a lot of it. But I think for there's definitely a value system that's that's more apt to the younger generations of ownership of a thing isn't as important as access to a thing. Do you? Do you see that? Or do you agree with that? Or what? What's your take on that? Add generational value system?

Nic De Castro 7:09
Yeah, generally speaking, I do agree with that. I think that that's what has led to the explosion of a lot of these sharing economy things and also experience driven things. So I would say, younger generations are definitely putting more value on experiences, rather than, you know, purchasing things. Not that we don't still have a very consumer driven economy. And really, if you look at what Land Trust today provides, we provide people the opportunity to go out and have experiences with their friends and family in nature, you know, going on hunting trips with your with your buddies, or your family. That's truly the thing that land trust is, is helping facilitate. And, and it is really all about the experience. I mean, we were just talking before we hopped on this podcast about a handful of the unsuccessful, I'm saying that in quotes, hunting trips that we both had this season so far, but I won't speak for you. They were awesome experiences regardless. Yes, they went, we went. Yeah, we were not successful from a harvest perspective. And I still, I still want to do that. But I was able to go out spend time in nature get away from technology be with friends. And that's really what it's all about.

Eric Malzone 8:27
Yeah, it really is. So let's let's talk about land trust a little bit. So give me How does it work? Right I mean, everyone most people are familiar with Airbnb. But from you know, someone who's booking someone who's you know, leasing out their land or if leases even the right term. Yeah, give us the lowdown.

Nic De Castro 8:47
Yeah, I guess technically just just just like Airbnb, where it technically is a short term lease. They don't use the word lease. But I mean, from a technical perspective, that's what's happening. Yeah, you basically say, hey, I've got if you're a landowner, and you've got 20 plus acres or whatnot, that's got good wildlife and habitat, and where if it's adjacent to public land that has access, you know, has pretty unique access to public land or you're on a river, bottom a creek or stream, whatever, for fishing. We are a place where you can come and list your land and be able to host sportsmen, hunters and fishermen right now. For a price of your choosing, and you get to set all your own rules. You know how sportsmen can can use the property, what activities they're allowed to do. You know, if you're in a smaller piece of land, and you just, you want to have just archery only, that's totally up to you. It's your private land you get to you get to make your rules and all that. So make it very simple. If anyone's hosted on Airbnb or VR do before basically exactly the same. Although our product is still obviously not as polished as as companies that are working $50 billion, but the concept is the same. And then for sportsmen, you know, we've got close to a half million acres of private lands across 3637 states or so who have listed with us. So you can think about it a little bit. I mean, it's kind of like we're enabling digital door knocking, and for those who are not hunters, door knocking is sort of, well, it's literally what hunters will do. So before Land Trust, you'd see a private piece of land and you might want to go hunt on it, and you literally go knock on that person's door, and, you know, pitch them on potentially hunting there and get a yay or nay from them. So what Lantos is doing is enabling you to do that, from you know, the comfort of your home or smartphone or wherever, in the states far away or close to home, and with landowners who are all receptive, because door knocking in person has a very low hit rate. So all these landowners, they, you know, they've listed specifically because they're, they're willing and able to host hunters and fishermen on their land. So we just make it really easy. So as a sportsman, you can go to land trust, calm, search by state or species. So you want to go do it, turkey hunt, Montana, you can go and check out a bunch of listings with photos and descriptions and reviews by other hunters. You can, you know, make inquiries at the landowner and kind of discuss what you're looking for the landowners and if everything looks good, you book it with a credit card just like you would an Airbnb or a hotel. And, you know, that's that's kind of it, we send you all the maps, and this is where the product is growing a lot too. But we try to get you fully prepared and all the information you need to have a really successful trip.

Eric Malzone 11:51
Yeah, that's huge. Right? If you can do all the due diligence out front for the sportsman, that's that's really important. Does the does the landowner have to have some sort of lodging on the land? Is that a requirement?

Nic De Castro 12:06
That's a great question. No, they don't. So we have quite a few landowners that dumped, we do have landowners that do this, it's a really cool thing about sportsman hunters, specifically. So if some of our landowners have ever hosted on Airbnb, they're a little bit tougher critics on lodging, because that's kind of the point of going to an Airbnb, with land trust in our sports, when the point is not the lodging, the point is the access to land to hunt. So sportsmen are much more forgiving from a logic perspective. So I mean, I booked the very first time to ever last year through Land Trust, and we slept in 100 year old cow camp in Colorado with field mice. But it had a wood burning stove and cots and, you know, that was great roof over our heads, you know, we're pretty self sustaining people, that probably wouldn't have been worked very well for Airbnb. So if there is lodging, or you're, you know, happy to let people park a, an RV or pull behind trailer or pitch a tent, or whatever, or if you've got a bunk house, or, you know, guest house or whatever, that's all awesome, because, you know, a lot of these sportsmen are booking what we call hunting vacations, which is them getting a few of their friends or family together, traveling to a new place, and, you know, stand for 356 days, to just, you know, go out and hunt and spend time together. And so if they can stay on the property, that's definitely something that's valuable.

Eric Malzone 13:40
Awesome, you know, I want to touch on something because I would imagine that a certain percentage of people who are listening to this and I'm not asking you to be a Steve rinella. Right. Sure. You know, I think, I think you know, what's interesting is

Nic De Castro 13:53
we're in the office right next to them. So we share with those guys. Yeah.

Eric Malzone 13:58
Man, I watched a lot of his shows, hunting, fishing, and the relationship to conservation. You know, I think a lot of people have a concept that, you know, all hunters are trophy hunters who kill just for the joy of killing with, you know, little concern for the environment and what happened or not, that is so far from the actual truth. Yeah, there are people who are irresponsible, forcible, right.

Nic De Castro 14:35
And every pot in every group or population or tribe, they're always bad actors.

Eric Malzone 14:40
Yeah, and there's only you know, I think I read a stats about 5% of the US population huts. So it's, it's, you know, it's not insignificant, but it's not a huge number either. So when people hear like, you know, about hunting, what what, what's the messaging that you want to get across to people about that community

Nic De Castro 15:00
It's a great question. And yeah, that point couldn't be further from the truth. You actually mentioned, Steve rinella he did a great documentary called stars in the sky, which is on Netflix right now. So I mean, he dives into that presents, hunting through the modern lens with advocates for and, you know, opponents of hunting and he, I think, as with any well done piece, you present all sides. So I recommend anyone listening who has maybe doesn't have a point of view yet or maybe thinks I don't know under is why do they do that? And, you know, how could that be conservation? that's a that's a good place to start. The facts are that hunters actually drive the lion's share of conservation dollars every year for habitat and wildlife. And it is kind of a interesting dichotomy. You know, you love you have these animals and you know, sportsmen are so fanatical, I was just one of our employees here. She's not a hunter doesn't come from any of that background, I was just driving around to do a shoot a landowner testimonial video this morning. And I'm just picking deer off on the drive out there just that's just natural, looking for deer. And she's like, how do you see these things? Because we're, you know, we love We love these animals, we do kill them. It's so it is it is a weird dichotomy. And I it's hard to explain. But yeah, so I mean, I think hunters, I believe the number is somewhere around a billion a year that hunters put into conservation directly, both through voluntary donation, but also through the mechanisms that are in place, from, you know, buying tags and licenses, purchasing firearms, ammunition and other sporting goods that are related to hunting and fishing activities. So we are by far and away the largest drivers of wildlife and habitat conservation. So, you know, it's important to remember that and then the other piece here too, specifically to landowners. For those who don't know, the lower 48 is 7070, to 75%, private lands. And so if you're, if you consider if you're concerned about conservation, you know, 75% of something is a good place to start. Obviously, we love you know, we love public lands, and there are plenty of groups out there who are dedicated to, you know, advocating on behalf of public lands, which which is great, but we see Atlantis, this kind of leads into our larger vision, we see the real opportunity in building a, you know, for profit private lands conservation company. And conservation has historically when that word is said, it's relegated to nonprofits and government, which, it's great that they're doing the things that they do. But we believe that there's an opportunity for the third leg of the stool, which is for profit. So that's really where Land Trust is going is going. You know, we started with a was built Airbnb for hunting and fishing on private lands, which is great, it's what we do today, if you go to our website, you'll look at it looks kind of like that. And that's, you know, that's what we're delivering on today. But, you know, after getting in this space, and learning and talking to all these different constituents, the thing that's kind of been revealed over time is, you know, private rural lands are simultaneously critical to wildlife and habitat conservation, while also being increasingly difficult to make financially viable. And it's those financial pressures that these critical landscapes face that make them really vulnerable to being sold and developed, which erases habitat forever.

You know, I don't know if anyone has ever seen a subdivision get undeveloped. If it didn't turn out the way they want, once habitat has developed, it's never going back. And so I think it's really important that in the hunting community, and for those who aren't in the hunting community, this might, they probably don't know about this, but there's kind of this certain sectors or certain segments that are, you know, we're pure public land and public land is the only way to hunt. And there could be even at some, in some cases, an antagonistic perspective of private land, which I think is really unhealthy and it's a false choice. I give an example to folks. So Ted Turner owns a big ranch here, close to town. Gallatin gateway, my buddy actually has a property that backs up to it. So I may never step foot on Ted's Ranch, you know, he does. He does allow people to come down on his land. It's a lot of money. It's probably anywhere from 10 to $20,000 to go out and hunt the bull elk. It's a little rich for me right now. But I'm really glad it's there, because he he put it in a conservation easement. He actively manages the habitat and wildlife. And it's an incredibly beautiful place. And I'm even though I'll never be a consumer a quote, quote unquote consumer on his land, the benefits of all the work he does, flows over into public lands, you know, that habitat and wildlife work that he does doesn't stop at a fence. You know, habitat, wildlife don't work like that. So it's this kind of concept of private land conservation for the public benefit. And guess what, I'm really glad that when I look over there, that it's not the next subdivision of Big Sky or the next condo or hotel a big sky, because that's what it would be. It's right there next to the big sky, and it's on the other side of the mountain from the Big Sky ski resorts. So, because of that happens, that habitat is again gone forever, you never see something get undeveloped. So I think we need to have that perspective. And we need to appreciate all the work that private landowners Now obviously, Ted's a wealthy guy, and has a lot of resources. But this type of stewardship mindset is prevalent. I would say, by and large across private landowners, farmers, ranchers, working lands, who have been stewarding these lands for generations, in many cases, whether it's 40 acres or 400,000 acres. So Atlanta is really focused on making private rural lands financially sustainable for the purpose of conserving habitat, Wildlife, accessibility, and our connection to those landscapes. And that connection piece is where we're kind of starting right now with getting, you know, getting us out on these lands, whether it be 100 fish, we'll get into other activities as we continue to grow, but nature based outdoor recreation, and I think that's what, that's what's really important to us. And we'll be soon connecting these private landowners with all sorts of different conservation related dollars that, you know, can help help with the bottom line of, you know, having a piece of rural, rural land.

Eric Malzone 22:10
I mean, there's so much in there that I love about what you're talking about. And it really is, to me interesting. You know, a lot of private landowners that the ones I've talked to, I mean, in stewardship is is, is a great term and word that needs to be get out there more, because, I mean, a lot of people I know, who have moved here actually, from jokes at the beginning, how you know, people from California who moved to Montana generally, you don't like to say that you're from California? No, no, although people can probably sniff it out pretty fast. But I do you know, there's there's distinct people that I know who have invested in land here and are very much about the stewardship, because if you are like, for me, I am from California. I grew up in that in the San Francisco Bay Area in the Silicon Valley before, it was the Silicon Valley. And I can tell you, yeah, if there's anybody more traumatized by development? Yeah, I am. I mean, I was riding my bike around in orchards and my youngest memory all around, you know, the silicon like it

Nic De Castro 23:13
was, it was the Garden of Eden.

Unknown Speaker 23:14
I mean, it was, yeah,

Nic De Castro 23:15
California was just an incredible in the Bay Area's one of the most beautiful places in the world. And now it's been developed to an untenable

Eric Malzone 23:25
level, it's crazy. So and, you know, my, when I sit around in the middle of my day, and I have like, 30 minutes of just kind of brainless, you know, time to kill, I just look for, you know, 100 acres, 200 acres here in Nigeria. And I'm like, Alright, well, how much you enable that. And I think that's a really cool thing is that, you know, you can develop this, this idea. Now, that being said, I was, you know, anecdotally having some lunch with some friends who are not friends, just acquaintances who happen to be from California, they're thinking about moving to Montana, and they're both developers, and they're talking about how they're gonna you can buy this land and how would it cost to, to subdivision, you know, subdividing it. I'm like, I'm like, Oh, God, don't do that. I stopped them. Like, guys don't do that. In fact, don't talk like that around me. Yeah,

Nic De Castro 24:13
I live. I live here, man. Come back to this bar. Yeah,

Eric Malzone 24:18
exactly. And that's, that's the kind of stuff that I think that's the difference is, you know, a lot of people who, you know, come in these areas who want those values, and it's really important, I think, I think private stewardship is you know, it sounds counter intuitive, but it really is the way to go. Because people who love it, you know, like Ted Turner people will say whatever you want about a rich guy and you know, whatever his ideological ideologies are, but that's a great thing, man. I think it Tim Southwell, who I think I don't know if you talk to him from I

Nic De Castro 24:48
did, yes. I've gotten to speak with Tim a couple of times a great guy.

Eric Malzone 24:51
Yeah, very similar values. Right. And it's it's a really interesting thing. You know, I have this stat that stuck in my head. From back when I took my hunters egg course, was that less than we talked about the endangerment of species in animals? Far less than 1% actually comes from hunting. The rest of it is Oh,

Nic De Castro 25:12

Eric Malzone 25:14
Its habitat loss. And that's, that's the enemy. And it's not the hunting community there actually now biggest advocate for it. So that's something that I really want people to understand is like, no, you're you're, it's sure it seems obvious, though. Those people kill animals. So they're that they're No, no, it's so far from the truth. Got to understand that I want that point to be very clear, and you're right that no Steve rinella under this under the stars documentary, which is on Netflix is something that I highly encourage people to watch.

Nic De Castro 25:41
In the modern in the modern era, in the modern era in the United States, it's hunting something to extinction is not something that could possibly happen, you know, market hunting in the 19th century, so yeah, okay, that was definitely was pushed, pushed to the brink, but it was sportsmen who were saying, Hey, we should we should regulate ourselves, we need to bring these things back. It was, you know, organizations like the national wild turkey foundation. And all these other species related started by hunters, species related nonprofits that really resurrected these species, in most cases, so yeah, that's, that's just uh, that's, that's, that's not what happens. It's when you sell off a piece, and they put a strip mall, and they put us up to date, but a subdivision, that's what that's what puts species in danger. And so if we can, in a lot of cases, we speak to a lot of landowners all over the country. And people are passionate about their lands, and especially when you look at agricultural ranching and stuff like that, but even just, you know, folks who own rural land, maybe it isn't a working land. It's not that they're like, man, how do I get rid of this thing, people like having rural land, it's just the fact that most of the time it comes down to this, I can't make this thing work out financially. And the selling comes not joyfully but with like, this is our kind of the last, this is what we have to do, we're backed into this corner. And if we can contribute in any way, shape, or form elantras, to alleviating that financial burden. And I'm not under any naive misconception that conservation alone will make properties sustainably financially, but in conjunction, you really need to look at a portfolio, look at it like a portfolio. So ranching and farming, they'll be called those legacy businesses, we love them, I think beyond just their value to the company or to the country from a commodities perspective. Culturally, I mean, these are things that I think we all want to see continued lifestyles and ways of life that these people have, in today's politically charged environment, farmers have like a 90 plus percent approval rating across parties, like what other group or subject or or policy would have that kind of bipartisan support. So, you know, it's part of the fabric of the country. So if we can turn conservation into a crop and make it, you know, make some money and contribute to an operation, or to that bottom line of that land, where they don't have to stare down the barrel of well, we either go bankrupt or we sell. Because that's a that's a that's a bad choice.

Eric Malzone 28:35
Yeah. And that's, that's a really key thing. I think people are really starting to recognize now that these great causes, right? You got to make them profitable.

Nic De Castro 28:45
Yep, that's it. Nothing really comes down to that. And so that's what I really love. I love being able to work on what I work on every day. If you think about the market, the incentives that the market economy brings, in this model, it's really interesting. So if you were to, you know, have a place and start, you know, renting it out on Airbnb, and you start making some money, say, oh, man I'm making, I'm making some income, you start thinking about the potential that you could have. And you might, you know, buy a big screen TV and get faster internet and put a Jacuzzi in the backyard, because you know, that you'll be able to make more money from that asset that you have. Well, if you look at that through the lens of land trust, we have landowners that, you know, that sign up with us and make a few $1,000 off some bookings, right, pretty, pretty fast. Just let people come out and enjoy their property. They start thinking, Well, how do I improve? This is an asset that I didn't really look at from this perspective before. And, you know, improving that asset is how did that work? You know, maybe it's adding new water sources, maybe it's leaving three or four rows of corn. If you're a farmer on the edges, just for more, you know, for more habitat, maybe it's adding back Bearing trees or pollinators. So that's that's the, you know, asset improvement. And we think that that incentive, hey, you'll, you're gonna have better habitat, which will have better efficient wildlife populations. And that that kind of virtuous circle is there. So we think that that's that incentive is the best way to approach conservation. And I mean, Aldo Leopold, the godfather of modern conservation, I'm going to paraphrase here, but he said, conservation is basically going to boil down to rewarding the private landowner for conserving the public good. That's not a direct quote. So don't attack me, folks. But it's, it's paraphrased. So, yeah, really, we want we want to highlight the work that's already being done by the private landowners of the US. We're a huge amount of habitat and wildlife are conserved, and then enable them to continue that and make it have that financial incentive there.

Eric Malzone 31:04
Yeah, it's great, man. So I want to dive into, like how you're doing, like, when I think about Land Trust, and, you know, similar models to it, there's a chicken and egg problem, right? Like, okay, what do you need? First, you need the landowners, or do you need the two

Nic De Castro 31:21
sided marketplace? problems? Yeah.

Eric Malzone 31:23
So what do you what was your to get this thing off the ground? What What was your approach?

Nic De Castro 31:30
Yeah, it's a good question. Yeah, getting two sided marketplaces off the ground are very difficult yet, it's a chicken in the egg or certain circles, they call it the cold start problem. We're what's known as a supply side marketplace, which means the supply side is the harder side to get. So every two sided marketplace has one side, that's harder. And we are built around private landowners. So that is, that is the core without private landowners we have we are nothing. So that's the harder side, that's where I spent my time originally, being a sportsman and knowing a bunch of sportsmen that wasn't too concerned about whether there would be some demand there. from that side. So. And it really started with me. Going through finding landowners cold calling, doing door knocking all this kind of stuff, just to get our first handful of properties listed. Ironically, maybe, ironically, isn't the right word. But we really kind of launched the company last October. So it's been a little over a year. And with the majority of our listings in New Jersey, of all places, we're based here in Bozeman. But yeah, New Jersey, we got like 13 listings from one farmer is a great guy. And we were able to really kind of launch the business there, we had a handful of listings and some other places, too. But yeah, I mean, getting that getting kind of that critical mass and getting to the place where, you know, speaking about the business and the value proposition, that's kind of an always evolving thing. And I come from sales, sales background. So, you know, pitching is sort of natural to me, at this point. But it should always be, your pitch should always be evolving, and you should be taking feedback and looking at how your customers react to that. So that's gotten much better. And then there's a certain amount of social proof. So when landowners come to land trust down, they see a bunch of really beautiful properties and places that it might be nearby them in their state that look like their place, it's just, uh, you know, it, there's a certain point where like, hey, this, you know, seems legit, where you don't really have that luxury as a startup founder when you first start because no one knows who you are, no one knows your name. No one knows what this thing you're trying to do. And they don't really see many other people doing it. So we've gotten past that piece, and we still have plenty to go. I say, usually we're like in minute two of the marathon. So there's still a long, long, long way to go. But we've kind of gotten past that chicken and egg problem.

Eric Malzone 34:10
Where Congratulations, I know, that's huge. What When did you guys start when elantris officially launch? When did you start? When did you launch?

Nic De Castro 34:22
That's a good question. I've been kicking around the idea since 2017. And then decided in 2018 to just like, I got to do this thing. And, you know, sort of build my first kind of investor pitch deck then and I went full time, July 1 of 2019. And that correct 2018 2018 I think so two to two July's ago, not this last one, the one before. I think that's 2018 and then we launched October Second, this last year. So we've been, we've been live and in the public's hands for just over a year.

Eric Malzone 35:13
How is the how's the pandemic affected your business? Have you noticed an uptick? downtick? Any change? Yes?

Nic De Castro 35:18
It's a good question. When the, we were having a phenomenal first quarter, growing very fast, and then the shutdowns and lock downs happen. So April sucked, frankly. You know, it's interesting too. And I was telling our investors about this, that it's not that our sportsmen or really our landowners were worried about the virus itself. It was more of an economic thing. So we had a huge month lining up for April, and then it kind of just fell apart. And we started caring for these guys. We were you know, booking five, you know, booking booking like big trips for the coming season. And they dropped out, it was a, you know, three of the guys in the group got furloughed. So like, we still want to go, but we just need to wait and see how this turns out. So that was, you know, hey, look, the whole country kind of took a kick in the pants then. But you know, May and June it kind of came back. You know, sports man, I think from a psychographic perspective, we're pretty we believe we're pretty self sufficient people. So, the other thing too, that we didn't face that a lot of other companies especially companies like Airbnb face, is Airbnb at least. Well, now it's a little bit different post post pandemic, but beforehand, Airbnb is kind of a core value prop is to travel to a new place on a plane and stand up. And a lot of those places were cities stay in somebody's place, generally speaking. So pandemics, planes and cities don't mix super well. They have pivoted heavily into rural stays nearer to home, and that's done very well for them. Our our trips are sportsmen, even if they're from Missouri, and they're booking something in Montana, they'll drive it's a it would be more rare for a trip being booked, regardless of its cross country or not to have that sportsmen fly. So, from that perspective, we weren't impacted in nearly the way that some of these big travel marketplaces were. And, you know, from a supply side, our landowners or social distancing as a way of life.

Unknown Speaker 37:39
Yeah, farming, farming,

Nic De Castro 37:40
ranching, living in rural communities. It was when we were talking to these folks, as a step was just setting in there like, yeah, it's not like nothing about my life has changed. So we're, we were pretty uniquely positioned to deal with that. I think

Eric Malzone 37:57
it's so interesting to see what this pandemic has done to the dispersment of people, you know, leaving urban areas. I mean, I don't know about Bozeman, but in the Flathead Valley, the real estate market is absolutely nuts. It's chaos. My neighbor's house sold

Nic De Castro 38:16
in two hours, cash, no contingencies. No inspections. I mean, I saw sight unseen, by the way. So

Eric Malzone 38:30
yes, I don't see a lot of that we saw a house that is, you know, a three like a three one. And, you know, a year ago would have been on the mark, I think it was on for 350. And now it's on the market for 750. And, you know, we'll see, I mean, there's a good chance, it's the only one on the market right now. And they'll probably sell and, you know, it's just it's but it's what it's doing culturally is going to be interesting, because it's an amalgamation of the sudden influence from urban areas into these rural areas.

Nic De Castro 39:01

Eric Malzone 39:02
You know, I it's gonna be an interesting experiment. I'm not having Well, yeah,

Nic De Castro 39:06
you've been hearing what's going to happen. Texas has been experiencing for a while, don't California, my Texas. And I would encourage people to, I'm sure I'll receive criticism for this. But yeah, if you move to these places that you really like you'd like them for reasons. They were this way before you got here. And you know, progress is always progress. And I'm sure I could receive a ton of criticism for even Land Trust. But yeah, I think it's, I would encourage folks to kind of like a maybe sit back a minute and see how people do things before hopping in and, and trying to steer the ship.

Eric Malzone 39:48
Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's a really good message. And, you know, just kind of sit back and be quiet.

Nic De Castro 39:55
You know, go drink, go to the bar, go to one of our amazing breweries. I don't want to sell Montana. More than we do, but Montana has incredible breweries. And maybe you just like sit and listen to people for a while.

Eric Malzone 40:06
Yeah, well, I have two predictions. I think two years from now. Two winters from now we're gonna see a lot of homes go for sale, you know,

Nic De Castro 40:14
a personalized view.

Eric Malzone 40:16
I think we're gonna see a lot of sprinter vans for sale as well. So yeah, if you're in the market for those things, wait. It's a it's a great

Nic De Castro 40:24
point. Yeah. I mean, I moved up here from Boulder. And, you know, Denver has just exploded. And they're like, Well, you know, Bozeman is gonna be the next Boulder. I said, Yeah, I don't think so. People who say why, why don't you think that? Well, because we have real winter here. It's already been it's only it's not even just past the middle of November. We've already had a few days that were five or six below. So boulder doesn't have real winter Boulder. It's like in the 30s. It's chilly. And you know, it'll snow and the snow will sit on the street for a day and it's gone. Montana has got real winter. And it definitely weeds people out.

Eric Malzone 41:04
I found myself in very scary situations due to my ignorance. You know, I'd be like drowning like, Huh, there's no other cars on this road. I wonder

Nic De Castro 41:15
why. Yep, you need to have the right vehicle. You need to always have the right things in your vehicle in the wintertime or any time you need to have you know, water and warm clothes and boots and you know, probably a hatchet or an axe way to make fire. There's you can't just go driving around at nighttime in the winter. It's not a good idea.

Eric Malzone 41:34
Yeah. But you know, what I do here is that Idaho is a wonderful place. Yeah. Boys if you're thinking about making a move. Yeah, I think Boise's was a call. I mean, up here. It's dark. It's great art and cold. And most people are kind of assholes.

Nic De Castro 41:52
So I agree. Yeah. And the beer sucks. I take that back.

Eric Malzone 41:58
Man, well, hey, Nick, where do people get to get ahold of you if they want to obviously Land Trust calm, but if they want to get back to us question. Yeah.

Nic De Castro 42:07
Yeah, so I don't have any social media and I haven't in years. So I got rid of my Facebook and Instagram, probably in 2015. I mean, I used to work in that industry. So I saw the sausage was made everyone's now you know, seeing that new social dilemma thing. And my wife rolls her eyes when we watched it. And she's like, this is what you've been preaching at me for years. So no social media, but if you want to get ahold of me or have questions, you can shoot me an email, Nick, it's just an IC,

there's no k on that Atlanta, trust, calm. We've got a number on our site to the kind of has our

catch all number, if you shoot us a shoot that number of texts, or give it a call, someone on the team will be able to get, you know, pick it up and route you the right way. But yeah, I'd encourage, you know, if you're a landowner who's got, you know, 20 plus acres, or you're adjacent to public land, or your, you know, on a stream or something like that, and you've got wildlife and get habitat, there are a lot of sportsmen around this country who are eager and willing to, you know, pay for the opportunity to come out and enjoy your place. So recommend you get in contact with us super easy to list, our team will help you out and for sportsmen a great way to be able to go out and have a private hunting private land hunting experience, close to home or in another state, you know, we have a bunch of both and, and really just to have some new experiences with with friends and family and maybe not have as much pressure to, to wake up as early and then get cut off at the trailhead, and have your whole day change even a little bit later, probably only because you're you got the place to yourself, which is really nice. And you know, the other part too is is meeting these landowners. I mean, there's just such cool people. And that really goes back to the beginning of like, I want land trust as we continue to grow to reconnect us as a public to these rural lands and lifestyles, the people who live there and work those lands, they're great people. And we've already seen so many good relationships from sportsman, both local and and from, you know, other places who made these land owners and you know, just have great experiences.

Eric Malzone 44:25
Awesome. Well, Nick, thank you so much for coming on. It's been an absolute pleasure and love what you're doing man fully supported. So keep up the great work.

Nic De Castro 44:33
Yeah, I appreciate that. Thank you for having me on.

Eric Malzone 44:35
Ladies and gentlemen, Nic de Castro.

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