Have you ever wondered why it’s so expensive to hire a camper van for the weekend? Wouldn’t it be a fantastic idea if, for a fraction of the price, you could borrow your neighbours motorhome thats been sat unused on his driveway for the last 6 months? Well, so has Martijn Peeters, founder of the camper van sharing platform, Camptoo. We sat down with Martijn to discuss what Camptoo is all about. We also discuss his recent success in gaining £500,000 of funding for the business and what he really thinks of the sharing economy as well as some top tips for young hopeful founders for gaining funding and investment.
Hey Martijn, could you tell us about Camptoo?
Camptoo is a sharing economy platform, connecting owners and renters of campervans, caravans and motorhomes. Camptoo was launched in The Netherlands in 2014, largely out of frustration when we couldn’t rent a campervan for a weekend as traditional rental agencies required a minimum rental period of 2 weeks (costing £2,000 which we didn’t have), and private owners were simply too afraid to rent out their vehicle. Since launching, over 175,000 nights (2,000 in the UK) have been booked in Camptoo vehicles across Europe and Australia, which makes Camptoo one of the largest, as well as the most trusted platforms. There are over 2,500 vehicles to choose from across Europe and a further 400 across Australia, with more being added every week. Vehicles are properly insured to allow both owner as well as renter a carefree holiday, with Camptoo providing all the necessary paperwork, checklists and roadside assistance.
Camptoo is a win-win for both owner and renter. As a campervan or motorhome owner, you can generate a significant amount of extra income instead of having your vehicle stand idle on the driveway, anything from £5,000 to £10,000 additional income a year. As a renter you can choose from a broad range of vehicles, varying in size and level of luxury to match a range of budgets, ensuring it best suits your needs.
You recently raised €500,000 investment through crowd-funding – how will you be spending that cash?
Primarily, the money will be invested in marketing, to ensure more people in the UK are aware of Camptoo. We have recently hired our first UK country manager, Ed Bassett, and his role is to help grow awareness, engage with our users to improve the UK site (based on their customer feedback), and build partnerships with other travel and outdoor companies.
Furthermore, around 20% of the funds will be used to develop additional handy features on the Camptoo platform to further streamline the booking process. We’re currently developing a new, automated resolution centre to allow owners and travellers to finalise a booking after the vehicle is brought back, meaning the deposit can be processed on the same day automatically.
Do you have any tips for companies looking to crowdfund?
Always be authentic and stay true to your brand’s values. Passion is key when it comes to selling your company to others, but you also need to know your business inside out in terms of the numbers (margins, profit forecasts etc). Practice makes perfect, so take the time to present in front of family, friends and your users to ensure your pitch goes smoothly. You’ll find out that users who truly love what you’re doing are happy to invest and become ambassadors.
How do you see travel developing in 2020?
Sustainability in tourism and avoiding the tourist crowds will continue to be two key drivers for travel in 2020. We expect more people will take an interest in holidays off the beaten track, to more unusual destinations with fewer tourists as a result.
There’s no denying that Brits currently are a nation in need of some downtime, and we know a simple remedy is spending more time the great outdoors. Being immersed in nature is good for our mental and physical wellbeing and we encourage travellers to seek travel options that allow them to explore – whether it’s the woods, beaches, forests, mountains or more.
Flying has also had a lot of negative press recently, with many citing ‘flight-shaming’ as a reason not to take a holiday abroad. Because of this, we believe more Brits will be looking for staycation options to avoid flying altogether. We certainly hope people try more UK travel as there is so much to explore, particularly when travelling at a leisurely pace in a campervan or motorhome.
What are your views on the sharing economy overall?
We firmly believe that the sharing economy as an industry will only continue to grow. The likes of Uber and Airbnb are household names and consumers are familiar with the concept of sharing, rather than acquiring. We’ve seen this affect the concept of car ownership, with sales of cars falling year on year.
The idea of sharing items these days is not unusual; we’re swapping fast fashion for clothes swapping and renting, we use Borrow My Doggy to share people’s dogs and use Airbnb to stay in people’s homes on holiday.
The number of companies offering peer-to-peer lending will only continue to grow, as consumers look to reduce their consumption and more of us choose to have fewer material possessions. We aim to be a significant part of this growth in our sector and hope readers will try out Camptoo soon.