Wonder Fund North Dakota, a North Dakota Development Fund investment program directed by O’Leary Ventures (OLV) has selected the tech start-up company LandTrust as its first investment. LandTrust is an online land sharing marketplace connecting landowners with outdoor enthusiasts, creating income for the landowners and allowing access to private lands for recreational experiences. This investment will drive economic development in rural communities throughout the state by creating new jobs and new income streams for North Dakota farmers and ranchers. To book an experience or learn how to list your land to the site go to https://landtrust.com/.
Similar to other companies in the sharing economy, such as home sharing sites like Airbnb and VRBO, LandTrust is a land sharing site where landowners can earn income by hosting a full range of outdoor recreational experiences on their land including hunting, fishing, bird watching, RVing, and more. Landowners currently list over 1 million acres on LandTrust which can be searched by state, property name, or activity.
This $1.25 million investment from Wonder Fund North Dakota comes with a commitment from LandTrust to establish a base in Fargo, N.D. as the company expands in the Midwest.
“With LandTrust expanding into the Midwest we saw the need to establish a headquarters staffed with folks familiar with regional farming, outdoor recreation, and land management practices,” said Nic De Castro, Founder and CEO of LandTrust. “North Dakota has created such a phenomenal business environment for startups like LandTrust that it made it an easy decision for us to set up our next corporate office in Fargo.”
The financial impact of LandTrust’s business operations across North Dakota will span rural economic development, employees in the field, and full time employees in a Fargo office. Initial direct and indirect financial projections of LandTrust operations in North Dakota for 2023 is between $1.2 million - $1.5 million growing to $20 million - $22 million by 2027.
“This investment will drive economic development in rural communities throughout the state by creating new jobs and income for North Dakota farmers and ranchers,” Commerce Commissioner Josh Teigen said. “Local businesses in surrounding communities will also benefit from an increase in tourism-consumer related activity from the expansion of agritourism operations in North Dakota. This deal is a premier example of how capital formation can help drive economic development, tourism development, and community development while simultaneously giving our landowners another revenue opportunity for their assets.”
“Our LandTrust investment marks the first among a strong pipeline of investments we will make in 2023,“ said Kevin O’Leary of O’Leary Ventures. “We believe in Nic and his team and their ability to execute a bold vision to create jobs and impact in North Dakota while opening new revenue streams for the State’s land owners.”
Wonder Fund North Dakota's investment is part of the $6 million LandTrust Series A round of financing with lead investment by the Wilks’ Brothers, who are among the largest private landowners in the country.
The Wilks’ commitment is more than being the lead investor in LandTrust’s Series A financing, they are also adding hundreds of thousands of acres of their own lands to the platform.
"We invested in LandTrust and are adding some of our lands to the platform because it allows us to provide the general public access to our private land in a safe, secure and simple way to create a more equitable and accessible outdoor experience for all,” said Justin Wilks, Executive Vice President at Wilks Brothers.
“We believe the Wilks Brother’s investment and contribution of their land holdings to the platform will allow LandTrust to scale in an accelerated manner. This is a win for North Dakota and the American farmer,” said O’Leary.
About LandTrust: LandTrust is an easy to use online marketplace that connects landowners with outdoor recreationists to create income for landowners and recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. LandTrust currently lists over 1 million acres owned by hundreds of landowners, many who are 4th, 5th, or even 6th generation owners, offering do-it-yourself outdoor opportunities including hunting, fishing, birdwatching, foraging, and farm and ranch tours.
Activities on LandTrust can be booked similarly to other online marketplaces in the sharing economy, such as home sharing on Airbnb and VRBO, with the landowner retaining control over their land. LandTrust currently lists lands in the Rocky Mountain West and Great Plains with plans to expand into five more states in 2023.
About the North Dakota Development Fund: The North Dakota Development Fund was created by the North Dakota Department of Commerce in 1991 as an economic development tool. It provides flexible funding through debt and equity investments for new or expanding North Dakota primary sector businesses.
About O’Leary Ventures: O’Leary Ventures is a generalist venture capital investment platform managed by Kevin O’Leary with a diverse track record of investing across many business sectors. As an investor for over three decades and as a host of hit TV series’ Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den, O’Leary has invested in many early-stage companies across virtually every sector.