Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do at FreewayCamper? Please introduce yourselves!
Nikolai Voitiouk-Blum, FreewayCamper: Our founding trio includes Julia Blum (37), Max Wagner (36) and me (35) – we met while studying business administration at LMU Munich and stayed in pretty regular contact since then.
Before founding the company, Julia gained ten years of experience in eCommerce and product management, for example by building the online shop for an organic super market. Max worked intensely on the topic of customer data and customer centricity in recent years and helped establish a specialized consulting company. Before FreewayCamper, I worked at Flixbus for six years. I established and headed the entire operations department for the first three years and did the same for business in Eastern Europe for the last three years.
Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?
Nikolai Voitiouk-Blum, FreewayCamper: During our camping vacation last year, we noticed that very little has changed in the camping market compared to 10-15 years ago – planning and booking a trip with a laptop or smartphone is hardly an option compared to other types of travel, and that’s exactly where we saw an opportunity for our own company.
FreewayCamper takes an integrated approach
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Nikolai Voitiouk-Blum, FreewayCamper: www.freeway-camper.com takes an integrated approach – we want to offer the entire camping experience on our platform and make it as easy as possible for our customers to find what they need and book it with just a few clicks. I’ve only come across isolated solutions and a lot is still scattered across a broad range of information sources and not available in the digital realm yet.
Munich Startup: Was there a point when you nearly failed?
Nikolai Voitiouk-Blum, FreewayCamper: We had completed our homepage and purchased our camper vans for our first station in Munich in March, right on time for Easter business, and had already gotten our first team members on board. Then came lockdown. I calculated a 0-case scenario and we would have survived the year even with minimal turnover – but that obviously wouldn’t have been any fun.
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?
Nikolai Voitiouk-Blum, FreewayCamper: For next season, we’re going to open new stations and make the first campsites bookable. In five years, www.freeway-camper.com will be the world’s leading platform in the field of camping – we’ve clearly set that goal for ourselves.
“We’re going to build our teams independently of cities and countries”
Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?
Nikolai Voitiouk-Blum, FreewayCamper: The development in the startup scene in Munich speaks volumes – it’s a very attractive city. But we’ve always taken an approach that doesn’t depend on location, even before corona. We’re going to build our teams independently of cities and countries. We’d like to create a kind of “virtual company.” That means we don’t focus on national borders, but rather on where we can find the best talent, and are going to build on the foundation of virtually networked teams. We already have a strong team in Zagreb as an example.
Munich Startup: Bike or e-scooter?
Nikolai Voitiouk-Blum, FreewayCamper: I’ve used my bike non-stop since 2000. But I’ve also installed and tried out some e-scooter apps just in case.