CRUISING THROUGH THE SHARING ECONOMY
Written on the 12 February 2015 by Laura Daquino
FOR a population of 23 million, there are a staggering 500,000 of these in Australia, and Gold Coasters are proving more keen than anyone to buy into the market.
We are often hearing something is 'the next Uber' of a certain industry, however that claim holds more weight for this startup that plans to seize a growing market for caravanning, an ageing population and capitalise on the shared economy in a very similar way - except legally.
Founded by four entrepreneurs - Justin Hales, Kale Hook, Steve Norris and Tim Chaston - who have backgrounds in industries including IT and real estate, Camplify was born in Newcastle last year with a goal to connect caravan owners, users and parks.
Having recently soft launched, the startup is already tracking at a couple of hundred registrations, with more than 50 per cent of this interest coming from the south east corner of Queensland.
Camplify was born out of personal frustration, when CEO Hales observed the gap in the market by looking around his neighbourhood and noticing the number of caravans in backyards that go unused for most of the year.
"I was looking to book a caravanning holiday for myself and left it a bit late, finding out that everything was booked out about 12 months in advance," says Hales.
"I thought, surely, I can just rent someone else's considering how many there are when you look around."
Camplify borrows from the shared economy concept, where the owner can rent out their caravan to an interested nearby tenant for a holiday to make extra cash.
From research, Hales discovered most caravans aren't in use for 330 days a year. The team has also worked out that $2400 is the average return on a 20-day per year rental.
The business is still pre-launch, but through a $30,000 seed capital injection from the NRMA Slingshot program last month, Hales anticipates it will hit the ground running very soon.
"We started with essentially just an idea of what we wanted to create and went to the NRMA with it, and they have since basically helped us every step of the way to shape it into a fully-fledged business," says Hales.
With this initial tick of approval, Hale says there is the option that Australia's road and motorists association will invest more into the business later down the track.
"At the moment though, it's all about forming two-way partnerships with caravan parks and securing interest from potential customers," says Hales.
"We want to give access to the camping, caravan experience to the whole Australia population as we know from experience, they don't have access to this at the moment."
Hales says Camplify intends to position itself as a market leader on a global scale, with a particular view towards the US.
"It's such huge market over there, with more than 9 million RVs and only a couple of small players in our area but no one really taking it by storm," he says.
"Australia is a really good market for testing - we take customer service very seriously and want to make sure we are getting an honest value service for our dollar so we see that getting the product right in this market will help build a really strong position overseas."