Keith Leong, Co-founder at Camp Reservations Canada

1. What does Camp Reservations Canada do?

Camp Reservations Canada is a platform that allows campgrounds and municipalities to manage their campgrounds and accept reservations online. We make it easier for campground managers to facilitate bookings, communicate important information and promote their campground. The benefit for campers is that they can quickly search for, compare and book camp sites.

2. What inspired you to start? What problem are you solving?

We came up with the idea in 2016 when we were looking for camping locations in Alberta for a long weekend trip. After searching online, we spent twenty to thirty minutes on the phone with each campground confirming availability and the amenities available at each site. Once we identified the problem, we started validating during our MBA program at the Haskayne School of Business.

3. How did you determine who your audience might be for this product?

Chatting with potential campers was easy because we could talk to people in our class, friends, etc. to learn about their thoughts and experiences.

We interviewed twelve campgrounds to understand the process they use to manage reservation and determined that there are 3205 campgrounds in Canada. Our primary source of information was the Canadian Campground Association survey from 2016, which delineated all the private campgrounds in Canada versus federal, provincial, etc.

4. How did you go about building your team?

The idea started with myself and my wife Renee, now our VP Communications. We now have a team of five including our other Co-founder, Cameron Sandboe, and two developers in Edmonton. Cam and I met during our MBA program and I have known our developer, Phil, since we were kids. We were all friends first which was important for us.

5. If you could hire someone today to help you with one thing what would it be and why?

Since we are in a niche industry, we could benefit from a strategic marketer and sales person to help us with our expansion to Eastern Canada and the Western United States. Those using our platform aren’t traditional digital consumers, so we need to use a unique approach.


6. What are your greatest achievements so far?

We have happy customers who keep open lines of communication with us, providing us with the information we need to properly promote them. The relationships we have built are invaluable and help us build a better product.

7. What are your future goals for your company?

We are currently in thirty campgrounds and we hope to have 120 on our platform within the next 6 months. Our long-term goal is to expand into the United States and Europe, build partnerships with vendors and create loyalty programs.

Advice Corner

8. How has Startup Calgary helped your company evolve?

Startup Calgary was the first organization we connected with and our connector to the rest of the community. This led to our participation in The Accelerator and the Valhalla Angels BaseCamp.

The network of likeminded individuals, key contacts and learning opportunities helped alleviate stress and anxiety because we realized how many others are going through the same thing. We were also able to reinforce the concepts we learned in our MBA program.

9. Who do you look up to in Calgary’s startup community? Which companies are doing cool things?

Mohamed Elhabiby, Co-founder at RoboGarden, started talking about his idea in the fall of 2015 during the MBA program. He spent two-and-a-half years in the development, promotion and commercialization cycle and now he is seeing fruits for his labour. He is a great example of the stamina and drive needed to bring a product to market and now he is a global player. He tapped into a lot of resources including government connections, startup community programs and accelerators.

10. What event, program or resource in Calgary’s startup community made the biggest impact on your company?

The Valhalla Angels BaseCamp with Randy Thompson opened our eyes to the startup world, including the angel and venture capital communities and accelerator programs. We heard of so many things that we had been missing out on – and all of them could be found in the Startup Calgary events calendar. Sometimes things just happen when you see them at the right point in time!

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Published on February 11, 2019