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Wheel Estate Owners Growing RV Sharing Firm

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September 14, 2018 by   Leave a Comment

Chad and Cherie Ball

Editor’s Note: The following is a Q&A conducted by Calgary’s Business with Chad and Cherie Ball, owners of peer-to-peer rental firm Wheel Estate.

Calgary’s Business: What is Wheel Estate and how did the company come into being?

Chad and Cherie: Wheel Estate is a peer-to-peer RV trailer sharing marketplace. We efficiently connect people who would like to rent a travel trailer with owners whose trailer would otherwise go unused, backing each reservation with our $1-million insurance policy.

Our story begins in 2008 and like many Canadians our family was hit hard with the recession that year, and by 2010 we found ourselves struggling to make ends meet.

When it came time to take a much-needed family vacation, there were few options we could afford, so we thought: why not go camping? That’s cheap, right?

We have a love-hate relationship with tenting, so we thought let’s see how much renting an RV would cost. As we quickly learned, renting from a traditional RV rental dealership would cost us roughly the same amount as a beach vacation, which is when we turned our attention to our neighbor’s driveway, where their travel trailer had been sitting all year unused.

While our neighbor was happy to rent us their unit for the weekend, their insurance company was less than thrilled, which is when we learned there was no formal insurance policy in place for this type of arrangement. In fact, they told him if money exchanged hands, his policy on his trailer would be null and void if something happened while we had it.

In the end, we borrowed a friend’s trailer for that August long weekend in 2010 and made our way to the mountains. Along the way, we began to notice storage yard after storage yard filled with RVs. That was the day the light bulb went off and we thought: “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a website for RV owners to earn some money by renting out their units when they are not using them, to people like us looking for an affordable way to go camping?”

At that moment, the idea for Wheel Estate was born.

After a little more research, we also learned that in Canada there are approximately 2.1 million personally-owned RVs and nine out 10 are used on average just 14 days out of the year. Canadians also spend $1.9 billion per year on insurance, maintenance and storage costs, all for RVs they aren’t even using. To us this seemed like such a waste, and that these units could be utilized in a much better way.

Little did we know that after our weekend getaway in 2010 that we would be on a seven-year journey before Wheel Estate would be able to launch.

CB: What were the biggest challenges you faced in setting up the business?

Chad: My background was from the new home construction industry, and Cherie was oil and gas industry. So when we wondered why there wasn’t a simple website to connect the RV owner to a renter, we obviously had no idea what we were in for. The first thing we knew was we didn’t have a company if we couldn’t find an insurer to write a one-of-a-kind policy for a peer-to-peer transaction, which to our surprise hadn’t been done before.

For the full story click here.

 

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