In a four-part series, Dynamic Business talks to The Sharing Hub’s startup community about their businesses and their story with using an accelerator programme.
In part 3 of the 4 part series, we speak to Justin Hales, Founder and CEO, Camplify. Camplify is a platform that provides holidaymakers with hundreds of options to experience the camping lifestyle without having to own their own camper van.
“The Sharing Hub started as a way to work together so we can learn from each other and also provide a sense of camaraderie. Running a startup can often be extremely challenging, but it’s great to be surrounded by like minded people who challenge you and who you can share each little victory with,” said Michael Rosenbaum, Co-Founder at The Sharing Hub.
“Instead of being a corporate entity, we are more of a community to help guide and share knowledge for specific challenges of being a sharing economy startup in Australia. We put on meetups and some of us all work together in a co-working space in Pyrmont – really practising what we preach about sharing and community!”
We interviewed Justin about Camplify, and how this network and community has helped him to grow his business in Australia, New Zealand and in the UK.
Tell us about your startup – why and when did you decide to found it?
Nostalgia was a huge factor in developing the idea for Camplify. As a kid, every holiday consisted of caravanning in our family’s 1980s Viscount caravan around Australia.
In November 2014, my wife and I were toying with pet-friendly ideas for our Christmas holiday. I loved the idea of revisiting a caravanning experience and looked into hiring a caravan. It was really hard to find any suitable options, and I couldn’t help but notice the 50 caravans sitting unused around my local neighbourhood. I thought “wouldn’t it be great if there was an Airbnb for caravans”. As fate would have it, there was a local business accelerator for start-ups which enabled me to secure an initial investment from Slingshot of $30,00 and officially launch Australia in 2015.
Camplify has now grown to become Australia and the UK’s largest caravan, campervan and motorhome sharing community.
How has The Sharing Hub helped your startup to grow?
The ability to collaborate and work directly with other dynamic start-ups to share our experiences and learnings along the way has been invaluable to our business. From discussing new technologies and government legislations through to sharing supplier recommendations and hosting combined networking events, our involvement with The Sharing Hub has helped us tackle many challenges together, whilst opening many doors.
What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned or realised since joining the accelerator?
One of the biggest things I’ve learned via our involvement with the Sharing Hub is the value of networking. I’ve always understood the importance of networking, but a more specific network of companies in the same sector and stages of growth, all moving at a fast pace and experiencing similar hurdles and triumphs is a fantastic support network to have. We always come away brimming with new ideas and partnership opportunities after our regular meet-ups.
How has your startup changed since you joined The Sharing Hub?
When we first joined The Sharing Hub, we were only operating in Australia. Our business has now expanded into the UK and New Zealand, with further European markets on the horizon. Many other companies within The Sharing Hub are also exploring other markets, and we regularly share our insights, networks and learning with each other along the way.
What does the future look like for your business?
We’re getting set for our busy peak summer holiday period in Australia, whilst continuing to build our community of owners and hirers in the UK and New Zealand and preparing for an additional market launch in Europe.
Would you recommend an accelerator to other startups, and why?
I would 100% recommend an accelerator to other start-ups. It’s enabled us to build a network of like-minded entrepreneurs, who we can pick the phone up to whenever to brainstorm ideas and discuss opportunities together. It also provides a platform for all participants to discuss similar trends and learnings, which we are then able to offer as mentoring advice to other businesses starting out in the sharing economy.