“Fundraising is like trying to play chess while riding a rollercoaster” David Troya, Glamping Hub
David Troya is one of the co-founders of Glamping Hub, a Sevilla-based startup that has become one of the main communities to find and book glamping sites (luxury camping accommodations). The company raised a €1 million Series A round from Axon Partners Group in September and has experienced significant growth over the past few months.
To know more about David Troya’s career, his expectations and his thoughts on fundraising we sat with him for an interview. Here’s what he told us.
For those who don’t know you, who is David Troya and what’s Glamping Hub?
It’s always tricky to describe yourself but I guess at my core I am an enthusiastic, optimistic individual. My mission in life is to make my time here as extraordinary and fun as possible. And by that I mean, going beyond what might have been expected out of me and finding challenges that keep me motivated, entertained and in a constant state of personal growth.
Glamping Hub is the leading booking portal for luxury camping accommodations around the world. We lead the company from Southern Spain and serve thousands of travelers from dozens of countries. Our primary market is in North America. This is a project I started pretty much as a hobby when I was doing an MBA in San Francisco. Eventually, I became more engaged with it and asked myself “how far can I take this?”; I still ask myself that question on a daily basis to keep me motivated. The difference is now the company benefits from the work of truly amazing professionals that are really driving the growth of the company.
What does Glamping Hub offer that competitors don’t and what’s the company’s business model?
I truly believe that we offer an unparalleled hand-picked collection of unique outdoor accommodations. We have chosen uniqueness, sometimes at the expense of faster growth, and I think our customer base understands the value that that has produced.
“We have chosen uniqueness, sometimes at the expense of faster growth” David Troya
We have a commission based model, which implies there is potentially no risk for hosts to list with us. Most glamping site owners feel truly identified with our concept and like being part of our community. We attract travelers that are appreciative of the type of accommodations we list.
How important was it that you were in San Francisco when you had the idea of building GH? Did that kind of atmosphere inspire you?
My time in San Francisco was absolutely crucial. I had always been intrigued with creating things and forming organizations. At 9, I created a comic book that I’d sell to people around me and covinced some of my friends to draw stuff for the publication and formed a small organization. At 23, I tried to start my own business: I wrote a business plan and won a local contest with it but I let my environment convince me that it was just too risky and early in my career to take that sort of risk. I almost let the Southern Spain mindset beat the entrepreneurial spirit out of me. I think my instict was then to go abroad and be in an environment where thinking different and having the guts to pursue your dreams was not only accepted but encouraged and praised. I found that in San Francisco and I started unleashing my creativity, I started two businesses in 2 years and my San Francisco friends helped me and applauded my initiatives.
You then decided to move to Sevilla to build the company. Why?
Great question. There are many things I criticize about the Spanish culture but there are others I love and it is a country I want to see grow. I have benefited from the social systems of Spain my entire life… scolarships, subsidized housing, free health care, etc.. It would have been easy to stay in San Francisco but I felt a moral obligation to Spain, creating wealth here and shaking things up as much as possible. I also wanted to provoke the same effect that San Francisco entrepreneurs provoked in me. The feeling that if other people around me can start businesses then I can do it too.
The other answer to this question is that I truly love a challenge. Creating and expanding a global concept with an open mindset in the heart of a traditional place like Sevilla looked like a truly interesting challenge to me, so I went with it.
What advantages and disadvanges have you found in building a startup from a city that is not known to be a hub of entrepreneurship?
The main advantage is that people that have an entrepreneurial mindset really want to work for us. We have a decent pool of talent to draw from and people are naturally drawn to what we are doing. There aren’t many organizations like ours in town. Obviously, we are developing this company for a fraction of what it would cost in the US, particularly in San Francisco.
Finding likeminded people in Sevilla has definitely been a challenge. At times, it feels like a pretty lonely process because most locals cannot really relate to what we are building or why. The amount of red tape in Spain is also pretty frustrating.
In 2014 you raised your first round of financing from VCs. What was the experience like? Was the fundraising process what you expected?
Fundraising can be a nerve wracking process, especially if you are expected to execute accurately at the same time. I describe it as trying to play chess while riding a rollercoaster. It is a true test to someone’s sense of poise. I already got a taste of it on our angel round so it was not all that different than I expected.
Any tips for entrepreneurs who are fundraising for the first time?
Be ready to use all your personal and professional skills at once. I would also recommend focusing on what is actually going right, rather than what could go wrong.
“To first time entrepreneurs I’d recommend to just start before analyzing too much what may happen if you start your business” David Troya
Based on your experience, what advice would you give other entrepreneurs who might be starting their own companies at the moment?
I would say that time is now. At a certain level, even in Spain, there is more money than projects that need funding. It is a matter of getting your business to that level. I completely understand the paralyzing fear that most people feel when they are contemplating being entrepreneurs but I recommend to just jump off and start before analyzing too much what may happen if you start your business, then adjust quickly as your venture moves forward.