A professional soccer player, an actuary, a consulting manager. Max Palko could have become all of these, but – luckily for the Rockaway team – life led him elsewhere and finally led him to the position of investment…
After recent investments in the Czech Campiri platform and the Greek Spotawheel start-up, Rockaway Ventures has announced another interesting investment. This time, it’s into Germany’s FreewayCamper, also supported by the founders of the successful Germany company FlixBus. Rockaway Ventures thus once again has set its sights on a company focusing on a camping product. FreewayCamper, which operates primarily in Germany, recently expanded to the Polish and Italian markets. Altogether it raised over EUR 30 million of financing, consisting of equity, venture debt and bank debt. Rockaway Ventures was the lead equity investor in the round.
FreewayCamper was founded at the end of 2019 in Munich by Julia Blum and Nikolai Voitiouk, who build on their extensive experience in e-commerce, M&A and marketing. FreewayCamper aims to disrupt how campground vacations are planned and how caravans are reserved. It is striving to achieve this through comprehensive digitalization of the whole booking process. The European outdoor travel market is currently estimated to be worth EUR 156 billion.
In a short time, the founders managed to surround themselves with an experienced management team, whose members came from FlixBus, the largest European bus transport platform. At FlixBus, Nikolai Voitiouk was responsible for CEE expansion. At Flixbus, whose attractive business model of aggregating bus transport offerings made it number one in Europe, Nikolai helped create its entire regional franchise model. As CEO of the FreewayCamper start-up, he wants to use a similar franchise model for its expansion in Germany and CEE. During the first quarter of this year, the company grew by more than 500 %, with 2021 revenues in the lower single digits of millions of euros. FreewayCamper offers a combination of its own fleet and franchise partners. This allows it to both scale the product quickly and provide a high-quality customer experience. It also provides campground reservation services, and is planning to integrate additional products.
“Already today freeway-camper.com is the fastest growing start-up inside the camping travel industry. Within just two years we have built the biggest network of camper rental stations in Germany. This year we started our international expansion with first stations in Poland and Italy. Thanks to the support of Rockaway Ventures and our other investors we will ensure the leading position in Europe within just few years and invest into the integration of the camper rental and campsites booking product”.
Rockaway Ventures had the opportunity to invest in the German platform in the seed investment round, together with existing international investors. Through its investment Rockaway intends to support further growth, fleet expansion and expansion to other countries, primarily Poland and Italy. Rockaway Ventures participated in the investment round alongside Flixbus founders’ SEK Ventures and other prominent German angel investors. The Rockaway Ventures Fund is thus continuing to invest in the highly fragmented caravan rental market. At the start of May the fund announced an investment into Czech start-up Campiri, founded by Lukáš Janoušek and Paul Tesar, which focuses on the digitalization of caravan rentals in the Czech Republic, with recent expansion to Poland, Greece, and Slovakia.
“We see huge potential in the caravan rental market. This is given primarily by extreme fragmentation and insufficient digitalization. And yet suitable tools for consolidation already exist. Our decision is also the result of excellent analytical work by the entire investment team. Despite the global economy’s gloomy outlook, we believe that this segment will be a winner in the long term,” says Rockaway Ventures General Partner Andrea Lauren.
This year the Rockaway Ventures Fund (RVF) opened the Czech RVF SICAV qualified investors fund – since April it is thus possible to invest in Rockaway Ventures through Amista and J&T Bank, and starting in July also through Conseq. RVF SICAV, which is registered with the Czech National Bank and administered by Amista invests solely in RVF. Its structure and investment amount allow investors to invest in Czech korunas, with a minimum investment amount of CZK 1 million, making investment into tech start-ups, including FreewayCamper, possible for a broader range of investors.