First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michele Matt: Thank you very much in advance for giving us this opportunity and being part of startup.info. Very much appreciated. My family and my team are luckily well, and we are optimistic that these special times will end soon.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded MyCamper.
Michele Matt: I was born into an entrepreneurial family. My grandfather had built one of the largest furniture stores in Switzerland, and my dad has also set up his own company. Since I am a boy, I dreamed of having my own company and creating something by myself.
The idea for myCamper was born during a trip with my girlfriend and my VW bus, called “Charly,” in Sardinia in the summer of 2014. We sat in front of our bus during a warm summer evening and enjoyed the simple life, the freedom, and the view over the big wide sea. We drank a glass of wine and philosophized about life. We talked about our faithful travelling companions and realized that our freedom-loving van is locked up in the garage far too often – and this is not a single incident. Privately owned campers (camper vans, motorhomes, and caravans) are, on average, 90% of the time standing around. And this is exactly the problem we wanted to solve. We wanted to put these freedom-loving vehicles back on the road and give them back their freedom.
How does MyCamper innovate?
Michele Matt: We revolutionize the conservative camper rental market by opening it up to privately-owned camper vans safely and simply.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Michele Matt: As we are a startup in the tourism sector, we were hit hard during the first wave in spring this year, as these are generally important months for us. However, as people had to stay at home for several weeks, they were longing for nature and freedom and started to go wild camping, as all campgrounds were still closed. After the federal council communicated that people are able to travel, we experienced a real boom. We had 3-4 times more booking requests during the summer months compared to last year.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Michele Matt: Fortunately, we didn’t have to lay off any of our teammates, but we were in a financing round during the first lockdown period. That was a tremendously tough time, as we relied on the new capital, and investors became nervous as we are in the travel and tourism sector. It was very hard to close the round under these conditions.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Michele Matt: Talk about the problems and issues with friends, teammates, and your family -> “shared suffering is half suffering,” we say in German. If that doesn’t help, get experienced mentors/coaches who can advise you and maybe help you with concepts and models that help to better understand the issue/situation.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michele Matt: Our main competitors are other international camper sharing platforms. We grew during this corona year by more than 100% versus last year. No other bigger player in our sector was able to grow by even more than 50%. This makes us very proud. Our plan to stay in the game is speed. Get as fast as possible market share and try to become number one.
Your final thoughts?
Michele Matt: If I may share our roadmap with you, we are currently number one in Switzerland and two in Sweden. Next year, our goal is to grow at the same pace as we did this year and become number one in the Nordics.