37 North Expeditions – Springfield, MO
- Published: Monday, June 10, 2019
"Get Sweaty. Get Connected. Get Happy." This is not your average business slogan, but then again, 37 North Expeditions is not your average business.
37 North was founded by Springfield-native Danny Collins and his wife Cristina Bustamante in April 2018. The company specializes in guided tours and is dedicated to helping the communities of Springfield, Branson, and northwest Arkansas explore the Ozarks. All the planning and details are handled by 37 North and the trips can include everything from a simple hike to horseback riding or paddle-boarding, kayaking, and even astronomy lessons.
"I grew up in the area," says Collins, "but I worked in New York City for four years as an architect and helped guide tours on the side." Later, when Collins decided that he needed a change in scenery, he moved to South America where he became an Expedition Manager for National Geographic.
After returning to Springfield to be with family, Collins and Bustamante began taking hikes together on the weekends. Their hobby inspired them to start 37 North and help others experience all the outdoor adventures that the Ozarks have to offer.
"That was when we saw the opportunity to show others the area and help them explore it," he explains.
Collins began searching for ways to bring the idea to life. Soon, he reached out to the eFactory, a resource for startups that was created by Missouri State University’s (MSU) IDEA Commons. Through the eFactory, Collins met Lance Coffman, a business consultant with the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at MSU and located within the eFactory.
With Coffman’s help, Collins took part in a spring 2018 feasibility study, a service offered through the local Missouri SBDC where MSU’s entrepreneurship students examine business proposals and conduct feasibility studies.
Once the analysis was complete, Coffman assisted Collins with advertising, bookkeeping, and pricing for the business. After eight months of planning, 37 North opened and began offering their first tours.
Collins once again sought assistance from the SBDC when it came time to purchase a company vehicle. He admits the prospect was intimidating, but Coffman and Sandra Smart-Winegar, an SBDC business consultant, assisted him by reviewing the company’s options and providing resources to allow Collins to make a confident decision that coincided with his business goals.
"I was nervous about the decision," he concedes. "But the SBDC gave me confidence in the choice. It’s been a great resource and a huge help."
Now that Collins and 37 North have been in business for over a year now, he and his team of guides are looking to the future and hoping to grow beyond their already established areas.
"Right now, we’re focusing on building a brand within Branson and Arkansas," he explains. "We have an amazing community basis in Springfield and we want to replicate that elsewhere. In five years, I’d love to expand to St. Louis and Little Rock."
Collins also plans to look outside of the Midwest, as he wants to offer national and international trips. Just like their other tours, these excursions will be geared towards novices and those who are unfamiliar with planning outdoor adventures. This is part of 37 North’s goal to encourage others to experience new things while socializing and enjoying the outdoors.
"We sometimes have avid outdoorsmen, but they’re usually there for the social aspect of the trip," says Collins. "We have targeted the extreme beginners, though we are hoping to add some more adventurous trips soon."
As 37 North continues to grow, Collins notes that he has loved every aspect of the business. Even challenges like time management and networking do not dampen his passion for 37 North, because he says that doing something he loves never feels like work.
"It’s been a blast," exclaims Collins. "I never imagined we would be anything besides a small startup and I’m excited for the future."