THE founders of a Kinross-based travel business have doubled their campervan rental fleet after securing financial support through the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme to help fulfil increased demand from international tourists.
Stravaig Motorhome Rental was launched during lockdown by commercial airline pilots Sarah Fitzpatrick and William Findlay, and now has a fleet of six luxury campervans available for tourists to take on road trips across Scotland.
After a successful first season, the couple received a £50,000 loan from Transmit Startups, a delivery partner of the Start Up Loans scheme, to turn their plans for expansion into reality.
The business’ two and four-berth motorhomes are already fully booked for the remainder of the summer, with reservation enquiries for next year also now beginning to come in.
Stravaig is a Scots word meaning to roam, wander about, or travel through and reflects the couple’s fondness for the Scottish outdoors, which led them to purchase their first motorhome in 2020.
Sarah and William continue to run the business alongside their day-to-day roles as pilots with British Airways and easyJet, respectively. But, as air travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, they said they would also consider expanding the team ahead of next summer.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, co-founder of Stravaig Motorhome Rental, said: “I have always fancied owning a campervan and while the airline industry was obviously quieter during lockdown, we saw the opportunity to start a new venture renting out our motorhome to other tourists. Business picked up quickly, especially when travel abroad was off the agenda, so we turned to Transmit Startups to support our expansion plans.”
“The process was straightforward and quick, which meant we could get the new vans ready to go in time for the peak period and so far, we have welcomed lots of international tourists this summer. Our location at Balado airfield, just off the M90, makes it easy for people coming into Scotland via Edinburgh and Glasgow airports to rent a campervan and head further north.”
“We pride ourselves on being a personable, family-run business and are always available, 24/7, for customers to call if they have any queries or issues while they are out on the road. Our aim is to maintain that personal touch as we continue to grow, potentially replacing a couple of the older vehicles with fresh new models in the near future.”
Stravaig Motorhome Rental is one of more than 160 small businesses in Perth and Kinross to receive a Start Up Loan from the British Business Bank. Combined, entrepreneurs in the region have received almost £1.4 million in funding to set up their own businesses since the programme was launched in 2012.
Barry McCulloch, senior manager, UK Network, Scotland at the British Business Bank, said: “During lockdown, a new wave of entrepreneurial businesses was born from exciting ideas that people hadn’t yet had the time or opportunity to turn into reality. It is great to see many of them, including Stravaig, go from strength to strength and we’re pleased to play a part in supporting their growth. The Start Up Loans scheme was designed to support creative, ambitious entrepreneurs of any age through loan funding, but also provides founders with help for additional business activities such as marketing, accounting and training opportunities.”
Transmit Startups Business Advisor, Shirley Wilson, supported the couple through the process of applying for their Start Up Loan, at a time when Sarah had been furloughed and William was at risk of redundancy. Shirley said: “They were professional, proactive and knew exactly what they wanted to achieve, but it was a very uncertain time and they were understandably unsure whether they’d done the right thing. I could see the demand for rental motorhomes was high, so after working together on cashflow I was happy to put their application through, allowing them to add more campervans to their fleet. For anyone venturing into business ownership, access to mentoring is a hugely important part of the scheme. I’m so pleased to see they’re doing fantastically well.”