A Young Couple Parked Van at a Viewpoint of Lake Tahoe

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck last March, initial bookings to rent Recreational Vehicles plummeted but that didn’t last long.

“Covid was a big, big spike for the company,” said Jeff Cavins, Outdoorsy’s co-founder and CEO. People realized they could quarantine in RVs and maintain freedom of movement in a controlled environment, he said. As a result, RV sales and rentals are at all-time highs, he said.

A record 20 million people visited Outdoorsy’s RV and outdoor travel marketplace last year and 89 percent of the renters were from Generation Z or Millennials, Cavins said. Today, more than 11 million U.S. households own an RV, according to the RV Industry Association.

“The upswing in RV ownership over the last 10 years is driven by strong interest from younger individuals and families who live an active outdoor lifestyle and Baby Boomers who are entering retirement,” according to the association. That trend only strengthened during the Pandemic because work-from-home arrangements encouraged more people to move and a shortage of houses also prompted people to look for alternative home arrangements like RVs, Cavins said.

In addition, there are thousands of people running businesses on Outdoorsy running mobile bed and breakfast businesses. In fact, one businessman in Atlanta made $8.2 million on Outdoorsy renting out RVs, Cavins said. And a 28-year-old woman in California earned $2.2 million last year, he said.

Jeff Cavins, Outdoorsy’s co-founder and CEO

Outdoorsy’s marketplace is open to anybody that has an RV – anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. Among its most popular rentals are Class C RVs which have a bunk over the cab that are popular with families and Class B RVs which are camper vans popular with couples.

The most popular destinations include anything in the Southwest, Cavins said. Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Montana are popular destinations for RV rental customers, he said. It also changes with the weather, he said. Florida is popular in the Winter.

The nomadic life seems to suit the Lone Star State. Texas is the number one market for RV purchases in the world, Cavins said. That makes it a great home base for Outdoorsy, which moved its headquarters to Austin in 2018.

And to further fuel growth in the RV industry, Outdoorsy announced Thursday that it has raised $120 million in equity and debt financing. To date, the company, founded in 2015, has raised more than $220 million.

Outdoorsy has 90 employees in Austin and 105 overall in Texas. The company has a total of 250 employees and is hiring.

Outdoorsy’s $120 million raise includes a $90 million private placement equity round led by Moore Strategic Ventures, ADAR1 Partners, Monashee Capital, SiriusPoint, and Convivialite Ventures, the corporate venture group of Pernod Ricard, with participation from existing investors Altos Ventures, iAngels, and Greenspring Associates. Pacific Western Bank provided the $30 million debt facility.

Outdoorsy Launches Roamly

Outdoorsy plans to use the funds raised to scale its operations and to drive growth and expansion of Roamly, its insurtech business.

“Roamly’s digital annual insurance product recently came out of beta in the U.S.” Cavins said.

Outdoorsy created the product in response to a problem its customers encountered in the RV rental industry. RV owners couldn’t get their insurance companies to cover their RVs when they rented them out to others because the insurance industry doesn’t view the RVs as commercial vehicles, Cavins said. So Outdoorsy created an insurance product for RV owners who want to rent their RVs to others on Outdoorsy’s marketplace.

“Roamly is insurance that moves with you,” Cavins said. “It’s a very unique insurance product.”

The world of RVs is viewed by the insurance industry with a unique classification like jet skis or snowmobiles and it basically considered a toy, Cavins said. And so, they don’t want them commercialized, he said.

“We’ve solved this problem,” Cavins said. “We’ve been working on it for over three years.”

Outdoorsy plans to expand Roamly’s market in the U.S. and Canada and launch Roamly in Europe, Cavins said. It will also aid in the expansion of Outdoorsy’s new accommodations venture with Collective Retreats, he said.

Earlier this month, Outdoorsy announced it is expanding its outdoor experiences portfolio by partnering with outdoor luxury accommodations operator Collective Retreats. The companies will work jointly to build a suite of offerings designed to cater to road travelers and guests looking for an elevated outdoor accommodation experience.  For example, Collective Retreat specializes in “glamping” or high-end camping experiences with good food and wine and champagne in places like Vail, Aspen and Governor’s Island, New York. Outdoorsy will offer its customers access to Collective Retreats services like good food and wine. It will blend glamorous camping with RV camping in select locations.