Updated: Jan 23
David Clapper is an affable man, with a contagious enthusiasm for the Georgia-based camper rental company he started with his friend Eric Van de Steeg. The company was founded in 2016, after Clapper went to California and went camping in a rented modified conversion van. He was so enamored with the experience he had that once he got back to Atlanta, he looked around for camper van rental options in Georgia.
He didn't find any east of the Mississippi River, and that's when he realized he might have stumbled into an opportunity.
He and Van de Steeg bootstrapped the purchase of the first sCAMPer Van (a brilliant company name if I do say so myself), and then launched an IndieGoGo campaign to see what kind of reaction they'd get.
"We knew that we were on to something when we put our 1st van up for rent in April of 2017 and it booked up every weekend until fall almost immediately. We could not get another van fast enough to meet demand. We did a report of missed opportunities having only 2 vans that 1st summer and quickly realized how much desire there was for our product."
With demand far outstripping the speed they could purchase new vans, Clapper turned to $400k in Angel Investment and loans to grow their fleet from 2 vans to 6 by the end of 2018. In 2019, the company expanded out of Georgia into Asheville, NC, and put in an order for their 8th van.
With 2 markets and 8 vans, sCAMPer Van has been growing like gangbusters, with expansion a key part of the formula. Case in point? Vans #9 and #10 are being built as I write this.
But the growth hasn't come without a few bumps in the road. Clapper has never run a business of his own before, and it has been a great experience to "learn the processes of running the business--finding the correct vendors and forecasting the expenses vs. revenue, etc." Like most businesses, capital has been an obstacle as well, but through it all Clapper has maintained his enthusiasm and belief in the mission of the product.
"[It's been great] being a part of something unique and fulfilling--not just for me personally but for those that are experiencing our product. The feedback that we continue to get back from satisfied customers has been one of the absolute BEST things about building this."
Clapper says the company is focused on running a lean organization, and plowing all revenue back into the company to fuel growth. Now entering his fourth year of entrepreneurship, Clapper has a few bits of advice for other entrepreneurs:
"Slow down. Don't rush success--take your time to formulate a successful plan long term."
For more information about sCAMPer Van, you can check them out at any of the links below:
If you own a company that you'd like to see featured in the Owner's Corner, reach out and we'll get you in the cue!