Vermont startup NatureShare has ambitions to be the social graph for nature enthusiasts
A Q&A with NatureShare CEO Brendan Cahill. The Woodstock, Vermont–based company was founded in 2009 as Green Mountain Digital and raised $1.5 million in new funding in late July. Investors include the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies’ Vermont Seed Capital Fund. The company also announced in late July that it was changing its name to NatureShare.
SUB: Please describe NatureShare, and the value proposition you bring to mobile apps.
Cahill: NatureShare is a social platform for the outdoors—our goal is to get people outdoors. As technology becomes more social and mobile we think that just as RunKeeper is the social graph for fitness, NatureShare will become the social graph for wildlife and outdoors.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Cahill: Everyone who loves the outdoors. In particular for our first iteration of this product, we will target people who love birding, looking at wildflowers and other wildlife viewing.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition and what differentiates NatureShare from it?
Cahill: There are some really great communities online for species, but we do not see any other companies with the supporting quality of apps and content in the marketplace.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps taken in establishing it?
Cahill: In 2009 Andy Stewart and David Roberts met and had the idea of taking classic field guides and transforming them into apps. They brought the apps to market in the Fall of 2009 and we’ve been fortunate enough to work with great partners such as the Audubon Society, Orvis and Gardeners Supply Company.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for NatureShare? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Cahill: We saw that our members were creating more sightings and storing them on our site. They were registering the apps and sharing their posts more and more on Facebook and other social media sites so it made sense to create a web platform to enable this more seamlessly.
SUB: How did you come up with the name?
Cahill: It was a group effort across the entire company. Once it was suggested, we all knew it felt right.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Cahill: There are so many great things we are excited to do with this product in the outdoor space that the greatest challenge is prioritizing the features.
SUB: You just raised $1.5 million in new funding. Why was this a good time to raise this round, and how do you plan to use the new funds?
Cahill: It was a great time to raise this money because we have demonstrated that our app users were using our products and adding sightings and sharing the sightings. By raising the money we were able to create a platform where members could do this socially. We will also be using the money to build our Technology and Marketing teams so stay tuned for announcements and hiring opportunities.
SUB: Do you plan to raise additional funds in the near future?
Cahill: No plans at this time.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Cahill: We generate funds by app sales.
SUB: What are your goals for NatureShare over the next year or so?
Cahill: Our primary goal is to continue to build an engaging community-driven product with easy-to-use features and great content. Right now the platform is in a private beta, but we’ll be opening it up in the near future.
NatureShare – www.natureshare.com