Meet Heath: RV Entrepreneur, CEO and Co-Founder at CampgroundBooking, working in the recreational vehicle and camping industry. Wanderlust-struck, instead of a traditional honeymoon, Heath and his wife took off on a five year adventure in an RV across the country four days after their wedding. He’s a Stoke member who has quite a story to tell.
Check out Heath’s member spotlight to read about the device he says will make you feel like James Bond and a harrowing experience involving an un-hitched vehicle on I-35, along with details on becoming an entrepreneur and what his work life and style looks like.
Can you tell us about what you do and what a typical workday looks like?
The past 6 months I’ve had fairly normal work days coming to Stoke. Everything from on boarding new customers to our software to sales and hiring new team members. Aside from the software, my wife and I also host a conference for RVers, create videos on Youtube, and blog. So some days have a little bit of all the above.
You mentioned the annual RV Entrepreneur Summit that you and your wife host - what does attending the summit entail, and how did this summit come into being?
We traveled full-time in an RV for five years. We ran a video production business and then a software startup from the road. Along the way I started a podcast interviewing other people who were running location independent businesses from an RV (as it turned out, more than I thought).
As the podcast and a correlating Facebook group grew in size, we wanted to gather this community of “RV Entrepreneurs” in person. The first year we decided that if 30 people came, it would be a success. Instead, we had 125 show up and then it’s grown like 100% each year.
Basically, the event is similar in scope to a lot of conferences with speakers and workshops. However, instead of hosting at a hotel we host at a campground. The whole idea is to gather people who have been running location independent businesses from an RV and gather resources that are valuable to others. We have lots of big companies in the RV space (Camping World, Winnebago, Dometic, etc) who sponsor the event and people keep coming back :).
Given your passion for RVing/RV living, what made you choose Denton, Texas to live and work from?
My wife's entire family lives within 5 square miles of Denton. We were getting ready to have our first baby so wanted to be around family for awhile.
What was your path into your business/doing the work that you do?
My path to running my own company is weird and a bit hard to follow.
I left my job in software sales back in 2014 because I wanted to travel AND do work that I enjoyed. Alyssa (my wife) and I hit the road 4 days after our wedding in a 1994 RV and traveled to all 50 states while filming a documentary called Hourly America (see, already very random).
After being in an RV for a little while and building skills as a videographer, we realized that we enjoyed this mode of travel and also, now we could earn money from anywhere. I also discovered an industry (RV/camping) that I could see myself being a part of for decades to come. Better yet, I had personal experience in the space.
I think for me this was a bit of a light bulb when it came to business. For awhile I was trying to start companies in random industries that I didn’t care about or have unique expertise and connections. Starting a company in this space gave me an unfair advantage because I knew it inside and out.
How do you feel about the coworking environment at Stoke and what it’s like to be a member here?
It was great and then we got cold brew and now it’s awesome.
In all seriousness, I enjoy it. It’s hard for me to sit in our apartment and work all day, I go crazy. Just being able to [visit with] coworkers here at Stoke for random conversations from time to time is nice and helps fill up my social interactive meter.
What are your measures of success?
Money. Jk, lots of money. Haha, sorry I’ll be serious.
I’ve been trying to figure this out and the honest answer is that right now I’m not 100% sure. I want to enjoy my work and the people I work alongside and feel like it’s impacting the world. From a financial perspective, I think success is being able to build something and then sell it at a disproportionate value. This is the goal for a lot of software entrepreneurs (not all).
All this to say, I feel as though knowing what you want to do and then finding a way to do that thing everyday is successful. So many people don’t know what they want to do and if they do, are too scared to make it something they can do everyday.
What has been your biggest business/work challenge or most difficult project to see to completion?
Starting CampgroundBooking and getting it to our first $5,000/month in revenue (which happened recently and I wrote about in a blog post here). It’s not a crazy amount of money, but given this is my first go at a software company it has taken longer and been substantially more challenging than I could have imagined. Starting a software company isn’t for the faint of heart.
Do you have a favorite app that you use lately?
My new Apple watch. I know it’s not an app but I got it yesterday and paid for my Starbucks this morning by asking the barista to scan my watch. I feel slightly like James Bond and it has a bunch of apps in it so I’m going with this as my answer.
What are essential traits that an entrepreneur should have or work to develop?
The ability to learn, hear feedback that sometimes hurts and find reasons not to quit when things get tough. I also think the ability to trust your intuition. A lot of times you have data and all of that, but really have to trust your gut that a certain path is right. It’s hard to narrow this down to just the essential ones because I feel like you really need a lot of tools in your arsenal.
What are you looking forward to in the future for yourself or your career?
Taking my family on a month long trip to Italy in October to drive around in a campervan and that will be awesome. I love pasta, coffee, gelato and RVing — basically all the stuff our trip will consist of.
Favorite coffee/restaurant/bar in Denton? What do you get?
Locals are probably burned out on this, but my go to is LSA (Lone Star Attitude). The rooftop bar, queso and top shelf margaritas are just a killer combo when weather permits.
Is there anything else that you would like for us/readers to know about yourself?
On my way back to Denton I accidentally disconnected the tow car on our RV and it slid all the way off a scenic overlook in Oklahoma and cross I-35 while my pregnant wife and I ran after it. It was a whole terrifying thing that still gives me anxiety. Miraculously, we drove it home and no animals or people were injured in the making of my embarrassment (wrote a blog about it here).
Thank you for the insight and stories, Heath!
You can find more about Heath’s company here: campgroundbooking.com
Read more from Heath in his personal blog: heathandalyssa.com
Get connected at the RV Summit conference website: therventrepreneur.com