Though many of us buy new toys and gadgets thinking we’ll use them constantly, they often get set aside before too long. Caravans or RVs fall into that category. While retirees spending their kids’ inheritance on a luxury caravan for a road trip around the country may get their money’s worth, the majority of caravans sit on front lawns for the better part of the year.
A Newcastle startup wants to get these caravans on the road by connecting owners with renters. Justin Hales, CEO of Camplify, said the idea came from his experiences on family holidays as a child.
“My family and I used to go caravaning with my extended family every holidays. On a return trip we were ran off the road and decided to sell our caravan. We never had that type of holiday again. In October my wife asked me to see about hiring a caravan for the Christmas holidays but I couldn’t find any out there. I thought that with all the caravans sitting in people’s front yards, surely I can come up with a solution that solves both problems,” Hales said.
Camplify allows owners to list their caravans or other recreational vehicles for hire. Just like Airbnb, owners can then chat with potential users and pick which they’re comfortable lending their vehicle to. The platform, which charges a booking fee, estimates that a caravan would be hired for an average of 6 weeks per year, giving owners a spare $3500.
The startup is also keen on creating a sense of community around the platform, hoping caravan owners and renters create connections around holiday experiences.
Camplify is one of six startups taking part in the first Jumpstart accelerator program, run by Slingshot in conjunction with the NRMA. Hales said he first heard about the program after attending a roadshow event in Newcastle and pitching it to the NRMA.
“When we started all we had was an idea. Over the past three months Slingshot has assisted us in validating that idea and developing a full business around it,” Hales said.
“The biggest challenge is educating the market in this type of disruptive business. Once people understand the idea they love it.”
While a number of owners may be wary of handing over something as expensive as a caravan or RV to a stranger for weeks at a time, many others would surely jump at the chance to make some extra cash for something that goes unused for most of the year. This, and encouraging users to make connections and share tips and advice on their holidays, can help Camplify build a devoted community.
The NRMA connection will also help – with the Jumpstart program promising its startups access to the NRMA’s member base if the product fits, Hales believes Camplify is well-positioned to make the most of the connection.
“The NRMA and caravaning go together like footy and a meat pie. We are the perfect new business to introduce to NRMA members and offer them an additional service,” he said.
As Camplify prepares to launch in late March, the focus over the next few months is simply growing the platform.
“The goal is to launch our system, focus on listing caravan owners, and provide holidaymakers with an amazing holiday,” Hales said.
Image: Josh Fischer and Justin Hales. Source: Simone De Peak.