Interview with Dirk Fehse from PaulCamper: Expand Private Camping Sharing internationally

Thanks for your time Dirk! Can you start by telling us a bit about PaulCamper? 

PaulCamper is the largest and fastest-growing platform to share motorhomes, campervans and trailers.

By utilising vehicles in private and small business ownership, we enable millions of people to reconnect with nature. With PaulCamper renters can easily find and book a van for their great time in the outdoors safely, fully equipped and without any extra costs.

Why did PaulCamper decide to expand internationally? 

Travelling is not limited by borders. We've had thousands of international renters and people who wanted to book a motorhome abroad. As solving the pain of our users is our highest principle, of course, we wanna serve that and create an according offer. Cross-border bookings also make perfect sense for us as a marketplace. I always had the image in my mind that a Norwegian rents a motorhome in the Netherlands, drives through Germany and stays overnight in some vineyards in Italy. That is what I call a united Europe! 

Competition in other markets is always an important consideration, how much did competition influence your project?

Competition is invigorating and helps us to get even better. Of course we have an eye on our competitors, but they have never been influencing our decisions. That is done by our customers. 

Once the decision had been made, how did you prepare for internationalisation and how did you define success?

Actually, we didn't have a great plan for our first expansion activities. Some went well, a lot went wrong. We have learned a lot and will apply our learnings in the future. What is clear for now is that international expansion is tough. It requires a clear strategy and deep customer insights. You need to find the right balance between keeping the product simple while at the same time considering the local needs. Regarding success, we had at least ideas. But honestly, in the end, it's kind of subjective. Is it the amount of supply, the revenue, the distance to the competition?

If you had to start again, what would you do differently?  

I’d give us more time to prepare and to get better user insights. We would differentiate very clearly right from the beginning and not try to jump on the back of our competitors. That might lead to fast results but not really sustainable ones. And we would apply a more lean MVP style approach to enter.

THE take away for a company who wants to go international.

Be 100% serious about it with all the necessary resource allocation or leave it completely.

Let's stay in touch!

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