Events May 30, 2017

In just four years, Yescapa has become Europe’s leading rental platform for motorhomes and campervans between individuals. Today, it has a community of over 85,000 users and 100,000+ rentals per day. Benoît Panel, CEO and co-founder of Yescapa, was interviewed by Violette Marquis, head of communications and marketing at AngelSquare, the French angel investor. He shared his experience in growth management after two fundraising rounds.


Violette Marquis: Yescapa is a platform that makes motorhome rental between individuals safe and easy: how did you get the idea?
Benoît Panel: I was planning to go on a campervan holiday with my son and as prices were quite high - between 150 and 200 euros per day - I looked on website. I found 1,800 people offering to rent their campervan and called 40, but none agreed as at the time, as there was no insurance policy available to cover the rental of your campervan. That’s when I decided to create a platform to facilitate motorhome rental between private individuals. I launched my startup in 2011 and called my site "jelouemoncampingcar". I was driven by one ambition: to democratize this type of holiday.


Violette Marquis: How did it all begin?
Benoît Panel: In March 2011, we signed an insurance policy to cover the risks in the event of a rental. Two months later the platform was up and running, ready to receive the first offers and we signed our first rental deal. Then, in early July we were featured in the show Télématin and immediately contacted by the TV channel TF1. As you can imagine, this exposure greatly facilitated our launch.


Violette Marquis: How did you finance your launch?
Benoît Panel: With our personal capital which amounted to 3,000 euros. We worked extensively on the platform in the first year and recruited our first employee 1.5 years later, funded by the platform activity. Today, we are a team of 32 people.


Violette Marquis: Tell us about your first seed fundraising?
Benoît Panel: In my experience, the most important thing with Business angels is the personal relationship. Business angels will support you for years and they have decision-making power over your company. This is why it is very important to establish mutual trust. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t choose them. Stéphane Romanyszyn (founder of was interested in our business from an early stage but we were not ready because we were working hard on the summer season. After the summer, our valuation naturally increased but we kept it at the pre-season level. He really appreciated the gesture and opened up his network. We chose our Business angels for their funds, but also for their expertise. In case of over-subscription, I would recommend securing some key partners - as we did with Frédéric Mazzella and Damien Grulier ( BlaBlaCar), Stéphane Romanyszyn (, Thierry Vandewalle and Xavier Gury (fonds Windest), The Family and Arnaud Lecherf – and imposing your conditions on the others. They like to see that there is a captain on board.


Violette Marquis: You changed your company name from jelouemoncampingcar to Yescapa: how did you manage the name change?
Benoît Panel: The site was already translated into eight languages but we needed a unique brand to take us to a more international level. After a long and difficult project, we agreed on Yescapa. But even today, some customers still remain very attached to the old name.


Violette Marquis: Can you comment on your second € 3 million fund raising with MAIF Avenir?
Benoît Panel: Raising funds from Business angels or from investment funds are two very different processes. While an executive summary on an A4 page is enough to convince a Business angel, this is not the case for funds. They expect a much more structured and thorough approach. Due diligence, legal, accounting and financial aspects are verified by independent firms. We hired a senior profile from a bank to support us during this second phase of fund raising.


Violette Marquis: Were the time-frames different?
Benoît Panel: Absolutely. There was a 9-month gap between the first and the second round of fundraising.


Violette Marquis: We recommend having 6 to 7 months of cash up to the first arrival of funds. Why did you sign up with MAIF?

Benoît Panel: MAIF was very active on the collaborative economy front and intended to sign with one of our competitors whose business practices were unethical. I contacted MAIF to warn them, and managed to convince them to support us instead. By May 2016, they had become our insurer. It's very positive to have them on board. It has pushed us to be more thorough and to analyze our failures and to progress.


Violette Marquis: How did the Business angels react to the arrival of MAIF?

Benoît Panel: It's not always easy because you have to coordinate everyone. There are two types of business angels: the dormant and the active. Some business angels wake up at the very last moment and express their disagreement. We have to find a good compromise and a workable format so that they are not too restrictive.


Violette Marquis: In terms of process, what has changed between the two fundraisers?

Benoît Panel: With business angels, we exchanged every few months in an informal manner by brainstorming. With funds, those days are over. Our first board meeting with the MAIF and the business angels was a real disaster. We didn’t send the documents upstream, we didn’t follow the proper reporting format, and so on. With financial funds, everything has to be formalized in compliance with very specific rules. In order to accelerate the decision process, we had to improve in terms of formality, preparation and precision.


Violette Marquis: You've gone from a small startup to a leading company with 32 employees in no time: how did you maintain the initial momentum and start-up spirit?

Benoît Panel: Maintaining the dynamics, information sharing, cohesion and proximity is not easy as we are working in different geographical locations. We have implemented several corporate event programs: for example, once a month, we present our results and our issues in a very informal way; employees present their work…We also organize fun events like go-cart sessions, wakeboarding...



Q/A from the audience

How did you use the money from the first fundraiser?
Technical development of the platform, web marketing, recruitment, communications...
It is important to keep the Business angel informed on how you use their funds.


How did you create the Board after the first round of fundraising?
Around expertise to strengthen our weaknesses: technical, internationalization, strategy, operational. Business angels can advise you and help you save time.


What are your priorities today?
User satisfaction remains our number one priority. This indicator will allow us to continue growing and indicate if we need to raise more money.


What is the best timing for fundraising?
Our business is seasonal. You need to show yourself in the best possible light. Never tell your Business angels that you need money. Go and see them when the growth curve is sexy. Business angels want growth.


How is your governance organized?
A steering committee (including key company members to define the main orientations) plus a Strategy committee with investor members who contribute to the 3-month and long-term vision.


Do you still have time to brainstorm?
No. We’re just too busy.


Have you established any agreements with Works Council or B2B actors?
No, but we’re working on it.


How innovative is your business?
We are more user innovative than technologically innovative: pooling a property that is not used 365 days a year. It is in line with the current car usage trends and AirBnB ... Evolution of mentalities.


What are the pitfalls of internationalization?
Dispersion in terms of focus and technical challenge. We planned to penetrate Portugal earlier but finally decided to first consolidate our position in France.


Could Wecar compete with you?
No, because their investor (SNCF) would be in disagreement. We have very few entry barriers to our business. We focus mainly on network, top quality of service, easy use of our platform, and an industrialization process but personalized service.



Yescapa is a platform that makes motorhome, campervan and converted van rentals between individuals safe and easy. The website assumes a trusted third-party role and offers a turnkey solution for secure and constraint-free motorhome and campervan rental.
- 3,300 vehicles for rent
- 85,000+ users
-100,000+ rentals a day
- Volume of business: €8 million
- 0.6% of the French Fleet today with a target of 2/3 % in each country
AngelSquare is the community for the best French angel investors, which to date has closed an estimated 80 seed & series A deals.



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