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Just drive off: For many people, a road trip in a campervan is the epitome of freedom. Indie Campers has developed a successful business model based on this type of travel. As it continues to grow, the Portuguese company is receiving support from akf servicelease – financial, as well as with know-how.
"I experienced one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life at a campsite in Bryce Canyon National Park," Souela Gkegka explains. Travel is her passion and together with her partner Grzegorz Witucki, she has been to many countries around the world. The two record their travel adventures on social media and on their blog, "Scroll The Globe," where they are known as Stella & Greg. "I write and kind of model, while Greg takes the pictures and films," she says. The two arrived in Bryce Canyon in the spring of 2022, when they took the first road trip of their lives in a campervan: across the western United States. Starting in Las Vegas, the two drove through Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California. "We had this dream for many years," Stella, who found out about Indie Campers on Instagram, recalls.
"I experienced one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life at a campsite in Bryce Canyon National Park."— Stella (Souela) Gkegka, Blogger
Indie Campers hasn't been around that long in the US; the company headquartered in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon opened its first branches in North America in 2021. Indie Campers was founded in 2013, when Hugo Oliveira returned to his home country after three months in Australia, bringing with him the idea of renting out campervans for surf trips. He founded Indie Campers together with a friend from Austria. The latter left the company in 2014. Over the next few years, Indie Campers became the market leader for renting campervans in Europe. Today, it offers its services in more than 70 cities in more than 20 countries on three continents.
"What we offer are road trips," Alexandre Prata explains. He is Chief Business Development Officer at Indie Campers and responsible for keeping the company on track for growth. "Our business has evolved in a unique way: In the beginning, we only rented out our campervans and motorhomes. Now, others can advertise and rent their own through our platform. In addition, we also started selling campervans. All of this to empower people and allow them to travel anywhere they want," he explains.
Prata joined Indie Campers in 2017, when the company had 350 of its own vehicles. Today, some six years later, it has 3,500. "That's very fast growth; a lot of partners get scared when they see something like that," he says. Not so akf servicelease. The akf leasing subsidiary is part of the akf group, of which Vorwerk is a shareholder. "We have a few customers with very large fleets," explains Managing Director Holger Büscher. In recent years, his company has increasingly become a mobility company, with its own large rental business. It also entered the business of leasing company bicycles in the fall of 2022. Another mainstay is doing business with start-ups: "We help companies grow. We give them the freedom they need to realize their dreams and visions," says Büscher. "In doing so, we can offer more than just financing." akf servicelease helped Indie Campers enter the German market in 2020, and now the two companies are already entering their fourth travel season together.
"We give companies the freedom to realize their dreams and visions."— Holger Büscher, Managing Director of akf servicelease
"If you need the first 200,000 euros for your business, you can go to any bank," Büscher explains. "But if a company wants to grow and needs larger sums for its valuable assets, that's where we come into play." Büscher and his team offer much more than vehicle financing, though: "We know the business and understand the market. So we can also support Indie Campers with our know-how and contacts."
"We want Indie Campers to become the epitome of road trips with campervans."— Alexandre Prata, Chief Business Development Officer at Indie Campers
Prata and Büscher can imagine several variants for the next stage. Further growth plays an important role for all of them. "We want more and more people to get to know and love this special way of traveling," says Prata. "Maybe they'll even buy their own van from us, maybe they'll offer it in our marketplace. It doesn't matter if someone rents, buys or leases an RV for a road trip: We want Indie Campers to be the go-to place for that."
In the beginning, there was sales financing: akf Bank started out as a subsidiary of Vorwerk AG in 1968 to provide customers with easy financing for Kobold and Co. The bank still belongs to Vorwerk, however the range of services has grown enormously since then. Under the umbrella of the akf group, there are now akf leasing and akf servicelease in addition to the bank. Together, they offer not only financing products, but also comprehensive leasing offers and high-performance full-service solutions, from fleet management to long-term rentals.
For Prata, a road trip is the best way to travel anyway: "It leaves a lot of room for chance and discovery." Stella and Greg also love this aspect in particular: "For me, freedom means being able to travel from one place to another in a very uncomplicated way and without any major obligations," Greg explains. For him, a road trip with a van comes pretty close to this ideal. "We were able to experience many unique moments with the RV," Stella recalls. In addition to the spectacular sunrise in Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, a landscape of endless expanse with spectacular rock formations, is particularly memorable to her: "We stayed in an extremely remote place where there was no cell phone reception and nothing nearby. It was incredibly quiet. An elemental experience."
"For me, freedom means being able to travel from one place to another in a very uncomplicated way and without any major obligations."— Greg (Grzegorz) Witucki, Blogger
The two of them can easily imagine going on another road trip: "We still have a big dream of traveling through Australia in a van," says Stella. That's a good thing too, because Indie Campers has also been available in Sidney and Melbourne since the beginning of 2023.
Stella and Greg met about 15 years ago. Since then, they have been traveling the world together. For the past seven years, they have both been living in Malta, and for the past three years, they have also been documenting their adventures in the blog "Scroll The Globe." Stella's real name is Souela Gkegka. She was born in Albania and grew up in Greece. She discovered her passion for traveling as a child while on vacation with her parents. Greg's full name is Grzegorz Witucki. He was born in Poland when the Eastern Bloc still existed. His uncle was a ship's cook, and he sent Greg postcards from all over the world, awakening his love for travel.
More about Stella and Greg adventures