Happier Camper Is a Hit with COVID Campers. It's Raised $3.7M to Grow.

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

Happier Camper Is a Hit with COVID Campers. It's Raised $3.7M to Grow.

Ryan Edwards, the co-founder of Happier Camper, said he's asked all the time if his company leans on influencer marketing to promote their vintage-style trailers beloved by millennials.

With a waitlist six months out and demand growing from hotel-weary travelers, he said it isn't a priority yet.

"We almost don't need to," said Edwards.

That's because the $25,000 to $50,000 custom trailers have been a hit with a loyal fan base, and rising demand during the pandemic has only helped. Orders for compact trailers at the lower price end, including Happier Camper's 75-square-foot camper, are growing as newbie road trippers look for COVID-safe travels.

The L.A.-based manufacturing startup closed a $3.7 million round last week that will help it fulfill its backorders and Edwards said he's already looking to raise a second round.

The RV Industry Association, which tracks RV manufacturing, said it's seen a spurt in new RV customers doubling from about a quarter of all buyers to 55% this year. Even though manufacturing facilities had been closed due to the pandemic, RV producers report record sales.

"They provide the freedom to still travel while allowing you to control your environment," Geraci said. "As states opened up after having been in lockdown, people flocked to RV dealerships."

Edwards wouldn't disclose the investors but said the round was led by the same angel investors and small boutiques that will help Happier Camper close a second at the top of next year.

The colorful, fiberglass campers are among the smallest on the market, and come filled with a set of modular cubes that Edwards compares to Legos. You can reconfigure the pieces inside the camper — to construct a bed, for example — or bring them outside for seating. The kitchenette unit was built to move around, too.

Unlike traditional RVs or Airstreams, which Edwards see as his biggest competitor, these lightweight models attach to almost any four cylinder car with a hitch. They start at around the same price of a mid-range sedan depending on the model and add-on features.

"Someone who's never towed a trailer in their life can quickly and efficiently learn," he said. "It provides this self sufficiency and autonomy."

Geraci said travel trailers like the ones Happier Camper sells cost less and generally attract a younger demographic of buyers. Customers 45 and under were already the fastest growing group of RV owners before this year. The pandemic, she said, "has supercharged that."

The industry is also banking on this new wave of trailer and RV customers that they hope to make lifetime consumers.

"As they fall in love with this lifestyle and this amazing community, they're going to look to trade those units and get the next best one," she said. "We believe many of those will be RV-ers for life."


Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

A Yard Tractor, a Crane, and a Top Handler: LA’s Mission to Decarbonize Ports
Evan Xie

Back in 2017, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced plans to go zero emissions. The pledge, which built on the ports’ 2006 clean air goals, was an ambitious one, and officials estimated the cost of eliminating air pollution could reach $14 billion. Still, the plan, which involves transitioning to zero-emission terminal equipment by 2030 and zero-emission trucks by 2035, represented a critical step in the fight against climate change.

Read moreShow less

Adwoa Beauty Founder Julian Addo On Leaving Corporate To Start Her Textured Hair Care Brand

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Adwoa Beauty Founder Julian Addo On Leaving Corporate To Start Her Textured Hair Care Brand
Courtesy of BHE

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Adwoa Beauty founder and CEO Julian Addo explains how her corporate career taught her how to succeed in business and how she landed a partnership with Sephora.

Read moreShow less

Hospitality Startup Jurny is Using AI to Make Property Management Easier

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Hospitality Startup Jurny is Using AI to Make Property Management Easier
Courtesy of Jurny

Last week, Los Angeles-based Jurny announced it had released a free AI-enhanced property management system (PMS) powered by GPT-4 on its platform.

As previously reported by dot.LA, the hospitality startup provides software and services to hotel and short-term rental operators in an effort to streamline their operations and make guest service available from a single dashboard.

Read moreShow less