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Wheel Estate

CBC carried an article about a relatively new company offering a variant of ride-sharing: Wheel Estate.

Chad and Cherie Ball may be looking for a vacation after a summer of matching wannabe campers with RV rentals.

The Okotoks, Alta., couple is into their second season running Wheel Estate, a business that helps owners rent out their towable camping trailers in a style similar to that of Airbnb.

They got the idea for the business 10 years ago when they tried to rent a neighbour’s RV and discovered his insurance would be void once money changed hands.

“We were hit by the recession pretty bad back then and we just wanted an affordable getaway, trying to hit the reset button,” Cherie Ball told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday.

It took the couple six years to secure an insurance policy to back their idea and launch the business, which they did last year.

Wheel Estate only offers trailers, not motorhomes. And I’m not sure how well they will be able to compete against these guys.

I had written about Outdoorsy before. When I jumped on their website, they took my location data and presented me with hundreds of options — all of them local to me — and everything from travel trailers to Class A, B and C motorhomes.

With Wheel Estate, I had to start a booking process to see what, if anything, might be available in my area, and, as mentioned, limited to just trailers.

I ran the same scenario across both sites: rent a travel trailer, 1 week in September, Kingston area.

Outdoorsy brought me 61 RV rental options. Wheel Estate only 2.

Whether this type of service really takes hold is anyone’s guess although there does seem to be some momentum behind Outdoorsy.

I do know that we would not ever consider renting out our Class A. Our coach is too complex and ad hoc rentals would simply invite mechanical issues through inexperience and/or neglect. Not to mention the wear and tear on the coach itself.

But, if Lorraine and I were in our thirties and we wanted to go out in a trailer for only a week or so a year, renting a trailer for a few hundred dollars a week would be a lot more affordable than buying one for tens of thousands of dollars along with the additional storage and maintenance costs.

And Millennials are the primary market for these sharing economy services, not an old guy like me. They might be jumping all over Wheel Estate and Outdoorsy.

Outdoorsy

I do not see any scenario where we would offer our coach up for rent. We have way too much money invested in our coach and it is a surprisingly complex machine to operate safely. That said, if we had a trailer that sat unused most of the time, we might consider being part of Outdoorsy.

Outdoorsy is a sharing economy technology startup. It connects owners of RVs with potential renters. If you are interested in renting an RV at a certain location, you can jump on their site and see if there are any available RVs, everything from trailers to motorcoaches.

Outdoorsy just raised $25 million in Series B funding from several venture capital firms.

Here is part of their press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Outdoorsy, the world’s fastest-growing outdoor recreation marketplace, powering road trips and recreational vehicle (RV) adventures, today announced it has raised $25M USD in Series B funding led by Aviva Ventures and Altos Ventures. Aviva and Altos are joined by existing investors Tandem Capital and Autotech Ventures. The Series B funding will be used to expand the company’s sales and marketing efforts, broaden its geographic footprint and grow its engineering and product teams.

Outdoorsy is tapping into a new consumer travel trend and building a third lodging category with mobile rooms. Users are able to go where home-sharing sites and hotels cannot go, reaching more places than ever before.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in San Francisco, Outdoorsy is turning the travel industry on its head, having booked over 263,000 days in the last year alone and generated nearly a hundred million dollars through the platform. The company hosts the largest bookable inventory of RVs worldwide online and is rapidly expanding its global fleet towards its goal of mobilizing the more than 17M idle RVs around the world.

“More than 12 percent of American households own a recreational vehicle, yet rarely use it,” said Jeff Cavins, co-founder and CEO of Outdoorsy. “At the same time, more than 35Mconsumers try to rent a recreational vehicle in America each year with no luck. With Outdoorsy, we leveraged this global, cross-cultural phenomenon of RV travel, especially among Millennials, and brought this multi-billion dollar RV industry online and into the sharing economy.”

Millennials now make up 38 percent of all recreational vehicle usage in North America as part of the larger trend of experiential travel and the desire to have unique experiences. With 40 percent of its user base being under the age of 40, 17 years younger than the industry average, Outdoorsy is tapping into this new consumer travel trend and building a third lodging category with mobile rooms. Users are able to go where home-sharing sites and hotels cannot go, reaching more places than ever before.

“RVs are the perfect gateway experiences for consumers, and the rising demand for campervan and RV travel was a growing trend in which we wanted to invest. Moving this market to an on-demand, online sharing economy was a logical way for us to participate in this new travel market,” said Anthony Lee, Managing Director at Altos Ventures.

“Every on-demand agency in the recreational vehicle market needs to be using Outdoorsy and its pro tools across their operations,” continued Lee. “Outdoorsy built the first solution that definitively shows the world’s largest enterprises down to the at home operator, that they can list and rent safely, while enjoying peace of mind and economic benefits that were never before possible.”

To create this on-demand marketplace, Outdoorsy utilizes state-of-the-art technology. In its first year in market, it introduced Wheelbase, a free, cloud-based and fully-insured RV fleet and rental management application for any business operating from three to 3,000 units. It also built, distributed and parallelized computation and real-time analytics engines to monitor and report on useful real time data, which promises users privacy and security.

“Our marketplace didn’t exist just a few years ago,” says Ryan Quinn, co-founder and head of software development. “The platform is a game-changer in this industry and ensures that our users can enjoy ease of use and peace of mind with every interaction.”