Rising StarDeborah Kane of GoCamp Offers the AirBnb of Camper Vans

Love camping, but not too keen on sleeping on the ground? Want to experience the wilderness without hauling around tents and sleeping bags? Ever wished you could have access to a camper van without the hassle and expense of owning one? Enter GoCamp, the “AirBnb of camper vans.”

For founder Deborah Kane, it all started with a green Vanagon Camper in 2007. Now she has made it her mission to provide “road trip ready” camper vans at your convenience. Here’s more from Deborah:

The spark that inspired the birth of your concept: I was camping and sleeping on the bare floor of my tent because I’d forgotten the sleeping pads. I can’t go car camping without forgetting something and I hate schlepping gear to and from the garage. I really wanted to make the leap into having outdoor adventures in a camper van, but I didn’t own one at the time. I thought, “why isn’t there an AirBnB like platform for camper vans?”

The problem it solves: GoCamp makes camping easy. Renters get to hop in a camper van that is “road trip ready” and already packed with everything they’d need for a successful camping trip. And GoCamp also solves a big problem for van owners because most people who own a van rarely use it! Now, instead of having their expensive camper van sit idle in the driveway depreciating, they can earn a little money when they aren’t using their van.

How you came up with the name: That was pretty easy. I just asked myself what I wanted my customers to do. I want them to “GoCamp.”

How you differentiate from your competition: There are other outfits in town that will rent you a camper van, but typically the vans are company-owned as you would expect from a rental car company like Hertz or Budget. Because GoCamp operates on an AirBnB model where every van is owned by an individual owner, all of our vans have their own unique character. Driving away in “van #6” just isn’t as fun as driving away in the van Pat and Jody have lovingly maintained over the years (the van called “Tla-na-na”). If you are renting a camper van from GoCamp, you are in for an authentic experience made richer by personal connection to a local camping enthusiast. And because we didn’t have to incur huge amounts of debt acquiring our fleet, our overhead is very low, which allows us to offer the best prices in town.

How you make money: We take a percentage of every rental facilitated by the site.

What keeps you up at night: Bears.

The best advice you’ve received: Piper Davis, of Grand Central Bakery, advised me to focus on operations and hire staff in that area well before I felt like I could afford it. She was right. And a fellow camper van enthusiast, Harley Sitner of Peace Vans in Seattle, told me to treat my customers like family. He was also right.

What wild success looks like: If GoCamp were wildly successful, I’d be taking my own epic camping trips in the summer!

Why Oregon is a good place to start a business: Oregon is a great place to have started this business. The West Coast remains a popular tourist destination, outdoor adventures beckon around every corner, and our proximity to iconic National Parks allows GoCamp customers to be sleeping under the stars somewhere magical in no time.

This video was produced by Jamie, Tom, and Nick, from Apertunity Productions, who rented a van through GoCamp and filmed their adventure.

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