Camplify in the fast lane ahead of ASX listing

Camplify in the fast lane ahead of ASX listing

Camplify co-founders Josh Fischer and Justin Hales.

In just under two weeks caravan-share platform Camplify will park itself on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX: ASX), its tank filled up with nearly $12 million in fresh capital.

The occasion comes as the company, like Airbnb but for campervans and caravans, sits firmly in the slipstream of favourable market conditions, with a domestic tourism boom bolstering the group's bottom line.

But will going public mean the Justin Hales-founded company must tone down its social-entrepreneur heart? Will shareholders be against the company's history of using its fleet to house victims of natural disasters in the future?

Business News Australia jumped on the phone with Hales to ask what this milestone represents for the entrepreneur with his foot firmly on the accelerator.

With $11.5 million in the boot, Newcastle-based Camplify is trucking onto the ASX later this month under the ticker CHL.

The debut, expected for 28 June, marks a major milestone for the company founded in 2015 as a way for owners of caravans to share them with adventurers looking to hit the road for their next holiday.

The service, like Airbnb but for motorhomes, has been booming in the lead up to its ASX listing as Australia's closed borders force would-be jetsetters to think local for their next vacation.

"We went from some stellar growth to the reverse for a few months," says Camplify co-founder and CEO Justin Hales on the initial impact of COVID-19 on the business.

"It recovered really quickly and as soon as people were able to travel from June we started to see things pick up rapidly.

"Since then we haven't slowed down."

The same story is playing out in the international markets Camplify operates in: the UK, Spain and New Zealand.

"In the UK in particular, and also in Spain, sentiment is really high," says Hales.

"People are really excited about being able to travel again.

"There's some fantastic green shoots that we're seeing in those markets, so we're looking forward to them not only recovering in the next little while but becoming camping focused markets for the next few years."

The Camplify team

Rapid growth has always been the preferred lane Hales has taken on the road to listing on the ASX.

The company was founded in 2015 and went through a business accelerator program run by the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA).

From there Camplify was in sixth gear, securing $1.76 million in investment from ASX-listed Apollo Tourism in 2017 which allowed it to break into the UK market.

Buoyant on success, Hales continued spearheading Camplify's growth, bagging further investment from Acorn Investments in 2019, setting the company up for its entrance into New Zealand.

Now Hales is hoping access to the public market will give the company even more leverage to make its next major play.

"We got to a size where, in Australia, you need to make that next leap to be able to have access to the capital that you need to be able to continue to grow at the rate we've been growing," he said.

"It also means we can provide our customers, who are the owners on the platform, the ability to become shareholders. As a part of that we had an offer that went out to all of our owners on the platform for them to participate in the IPO."

While Hales was unable to specify the uptake from Camplify's motorhome owners, he said it was "well received".

"So these funds are making sure we're cementing ourselves into our current markets that are in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and the UK, and really becoming that stable and dominant player in all those markets," he said.

"We're investing into our platform so that it is the best in market in terms of what it delivers to our customers and sets us up for future growth."

Winner of the 2019 and 2020 Australian Young Entrepreneur Award in the Hospitality and Tourism cetegory Justin Hales with his dog storm.

However with great shareholders comes great responsibility.

In early-2020 Camplify stepped up to the plate to arrange free accommodation for bushfire victims - a selfless move on the part of both the company and the owners of the platform's motorhomes.

Hales says becoming a listed company with shareholders to answer to won't impact the group's commitment to being community focused.

"We've always been a really strong community business. We've got that grassroots ability to grow our community of owners," the founder said.

"We really want to continue that because that's what got us to where we are.

"I think that there's elements of us being able to provide back to the community that we service and working to be able to make sure that we're being good corporate citizens."

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