Campanyon makes nature accessible to everyone

Campanyon makes nature accessible to everyone

The way we travel is changing. During the pandemic the few opportunities left for travel were local and in nature, away from crowds. With tourism now back in full swing, the industry is signalling that this trend is here to stay. And Norwegian start-up Campanyon is at the forefront of it.

With over 10,000 bookable stays across more than 20 countries, the online booking platform Campanyon has already established itself as the leading platform for outdoor stays across the Nordics – only a year after launch. It’s now aiming to strengthen its position across Europe.

Talk to any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that timing is critical in terms of both when to launch and to succeed with a new business. The same held true for Kristian Qwist Adolphsen and Alexander Raknes, the two founders of Campanyon, when they decided to explore Campanyon as a new business idea in spring 2020.

A passion for sports and the outdoors

The two originally met while studying at Copenhagen Business School, where they quickly became friends due to their shared passion for entrepreneurship, sports and the outdoors.They ended up working together at the digital marketing agency Precis Digital, and eventually, they both joined Google. It was there that the first ideas around Campanyon were formed.

Campanyon makes nature accessible to everyone
Campanyon’s founders: Aline Nieuwlaat, Werner Huber, Kristian Qwist Adolphsen, Alexander Raknes and Sven Röder.

After being sent home from the Google offices shortly after the Covid pandemic hit, the pair spotted some new and interesting trends emerging across various industries, as a direct result of the lockdown. One of the trends that captured their attention was the increasing appetite for being in nature, as people were longing to escape isolation but were banned from travelling abroad. This resulted in new records for nature-focused and camping-related search terms and overnight stays.

Alexander and Kristian decided to do more research on this budding market and quickly realised it was extremely difficult to both find and book places in nature in a seamless way, mainly due to it being a very fragmented market consisting of small platforms with limited supply. At the same time, they couldn’t find any platform in the Nordics that attempted to unlock unused private land for campers to book and stay.

“It was very clear from early on that the market and appetite for local, authentic, and nature-focused stays was growing. At the same time, there were very few established players offering user-friendly solutions – which we found interesting,” Kristian says.

Being an avid skier, surfer and mountaineer, Alexander could relate to the trend they were observing.

“I, too, had been longing for cheaper and more sustainable options to spend the night in nature, get local tips and meet like-minded people.”

Teamed up with former colleagues

Those insights led to the early-start of Campanyon, which began during late spring of 2020. A few months later, the two teamed up with former colleagues Aline Nieuwlaat, Sven Röder and Werner Huber, who all are very experienced with product engineering and UX design, and they quickly became Campanyon’s co-founders, too.

Aline was just wrapping up her work on a food app when Alex called her to let her know about the idea for Campanyon, something that immediately resonated with Aline.

“I’m a passionate camper so when Alex called, I was instantly committed to join the journey! Just before that I saw an ad from another player in the market and thought to myself how smart the idea was to offer private land to campers.”

Funnily enough, the five co-founders are based in five different countries. The first time they met in person after they started working on Campanyon was in December 2021 – the day they signed the deal with Schibsted Ventures in Oslo and around one-and-a-half years after they began working together on Campanyon.

Being born out of Covid and having a fully remote setup from day one, the team knew this would come with both opportunities and challenges. They have been fortunate to learn from leading companies, such as Google, on how to approach and adapt to working remotely and they have introduced some of the things that worked well directly into Campanyon, while skipping the things that weren’t quite as efficient.

Campanyon makes nature accessible to everyone

In the early days, it was clear that too many initiatives were being launched all at once, to make everyone in the organisation comfortable with the new setting of working remotely. This meant almost daily check-in meetings, coffee huddles, shared lunch breaks and other attempts at creating a shared working experience – which to some extent had the opposite effect.

The tech team is the perfect example of Campanyon’s effective teamwork.  For Sven, hiring and scaling has been a fantastic challenge and opportunity as the CTO. His team consists of a healthy mix of employees and freelancers from all over Europe.

“We have some incredible talent on board that is motivated to work in an ‘always on’ start-up environment. Open communication and cloud tools that support our development flow allow for rapid iterations of UI/UX and continuous updates of our services.”

Crucial to have local people on the ground

Campanyon has people working from nine different countries now, and nowhere is that more palpable than in the sales team. Kristian sees it as crucial to their success.

“Having local people on the ground across our key markets has been instrumental in growing both supply and demand. The local presence gives us the opportunity to establish relationships with key stakeholders and offer customer service at a different level, something that is particularly important in the Southern European markets we operate in.”

Campanyon got off to a great start since its launch in 2021. Or as Kristian puts it, they’ve been extremely busy growing since the launch.
“Since we launched the platform last year in April, we have grown from around 100 host listings in Denmark and Norway to more than 3,000 host listings across more than 20 markets.”

Alexander, who embodies the companionship that is core to the company’s ethos, visits many of the newly onboarded hosts to get feedback and foster a sense of community.

“I’ve already met a lot of campers and great hosts in unique places, and all of whom have stories that I want more people to hear.”
Campanyon experienced a huge appetite for joining the platform early on and they have used various channels to create awareness and grow the number of hosts in efficient ways.

“We have also seen a large number of organic signups from hosts in locations we don’t actively target, which is really funny and also inspiring, as we see the project resonates across so many different countries and cultures,” Kristian says.

Going forward, the focus for Cam­panyon will remain on growing in key markets in Europe to further establish their position as the leading platform for stays in nature, while continuing to enhance the user experience to become “campers’ best friend”.

Author Jeremy Sudibyo

Jeremy Sudibyo
Brand & Content, Campanyon
Years in Schibsted: 1