Capital Factory Spotlight: Bonfire

As our community continues to grow, Launch DFW is on an ongoing mission to introduce you to some of the region’s incredible startups. We’ve partnered with Capital Factory, a tech hub and accelerator new to Dallas that also offers coworking, to spotlight a few of the Dallas-based entrepreneurs that call CF home.

MEET BONFIRE

Founding year:  

2013

Founders:  

Jerry King & Mike Konkov

Company mission:  

Provide a simple reservation management software for campgrounds and RV parks to use to automate their reservation operations while upgrading their digital channels to accept online reservations.

What was the inspiration to start Bonfire?  

Bonfire was born out of another reservation concept, RVSpotfinder.com, that initially wanted to be the Travelocity for campgrounds. During the discovery process to validate that concept, we learned that campground owners loved the idea of marketing their available sites online, but increasing their reservation volumes would actually be a hindrance since almost 75% of campgrounds didn’t even have a reservation management software. They would be working harder just to keep their reservation operations organized instead of working to provide an exceptional experience for their new camping guests. So, in 2016, RVSpotfinder.com pivoted from a booking engine to a reservation management software. In doing this, Bonfire is able to increase the volume of reservations and give the campground owners a tool to organize and manage those reservations.

What services do you provide?  

Bonfire provides a B2B reservation management software, a dedicated online booking page for each campground, and integrated payment processing options. The management software is focused on being simple to learn, simple to use, and simple to train for staff. The software provides the basic tools and features needed to manage reservations. There is a calendar representation of reservations, a daily dashboard for arrival and departure activity, core industry reports, an additional amenities feature and connected virtual cash register and a Guest Book.

The online booking page is optional to use and is a dedicated online page just for that specific park and their available sites. This page can be linked directly to the campground’s website so their prospective campers are not enticed to choose another campground that may have better pictures or better pricing.

Bonfire is a good fit for new campground owners just taking over the business or a veteran owner or manager wanting to upgrade their park with a simple tool that doesn’t take hours of training and setup to get started. Bonfire also provides ancillary marketing services like website and park map design as a compliment to the Bonfire platform that automatically integrates their online booking page. We find that when a new owner takes over a campground, they want to rebrand and upgrade more than just their software. With Bonfire, they can get a total facelift on their campground business with an all-in-one option.

 

What innovation does Bonfire offer businesses?

75% of campgrounds are not using online booking software. Additionally, campgrounds are still using pen & paper, whiteboards, and excel spreadsheets to manage their reservations. Bonfire alleviates the manual labor that comes with maintaining those physical tools but also provides and connected database of their campgrounds information to bring the business into the digital world. Bonfire is also cloud-based, so remote business owners can stay connected to their team from anywhere.

Any interesting partnerships or collaborations?

Bonfire is a solution that is focused on the simplicity of use. One partnership that aligns fully with that model is our integration with Square. With Square, Bonfire customers can create and connect a merchant account in a matter of minutes. And Square’s product positioning is also one that focuses on simplicity. Additionally, one of the major benefits of using Square is that they have a robust set of business tools that can be used in conjunction with the Bonfire platform.

What can we expect next from your team?

Expect to hear Bonfire’s name mentioned more and more as camping activities grow in popularity. This sector of the travel and tourism industry is only just starting to mature and adopt more digital business tools. The travel industry has found solid footing connecting customers with experiences, airfare, and lodging. However, the campground sector is just starting to see the adoption of similar booking channels for RV rentals, campsites, and glamping experiences. Bonfire will be a complementary solution supporting sustainable growth.

Your thoughts on the DFW business community?

Dallas has seen some good progress lately in creating a community that supports early-stage startups and small businesses. Major startup organizations like Capital Factory coming into Dallas and offering their services is a good sign of positive change. One necessary element that the DFW startup community is still missing is funding organizations that focus on pre-revenue companies and angel investing.

With so many young entrepreneurs coming out of accelerators and schools like UTD, early-stage funding is one of the most important resources to a startup company. Combine a little cash to support experimentation based on lean startup methodologies, and Dallas startup companies can validate concepts and take another step toward Product-Market-Fit and, ultimately, meaningful revenue. The DFW startup community has an assortment of education options that teach the lean startup canvas. So let’s support that education with resources that can put those teachings to work and create value.