When former police officer Michael McNaught bought an RV for family trips a few years back, he quickly realized it was a lot of money to shell out for a vehicle that sat idle in his driveway 11 months a year.
Already an owner of rental properties, McNaught figured he could apply the same principle to his RV. The result is RVezy, an online marketplace for motorhomes, trailers and camper vans he launched with business partner Will Thompson about four years ago.
The peer-to-peer site – which connects renters with RV owners through a secure platform and provides full insurance coverage – now boasts an inventory of more than 7,000 vehicles from coast to coast that were booked a total of more than 100,000 nights in 2019.
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McNaught has turned his brainchild into a leader in its space, negotiating the first-ever RV-sharing insurance policy in Canada with Intact Insurance and developing profitable partnerships such as a contract with Ontario’s Boots and Hearts Music Festival that allows festival-goers to stay in RVs during the four-day country music event. The firm has landed millions of dollars in investment, including a deal with high-profile entrepreneur Michele Romanow of Dragons’ Den fame after McNaught appeared on the CBC pitch show in 2017.
The Ottawa entrepreneur also stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the lockdown caused cancellations to soar by 500 per cent, McNaught decided to put RVezy’s stable of vehicles to work in the fight against the coronavirus, waiving service fees for owners who wanted to rent their vehicles to frontline workers at reduced rates. Since then, hundreds of health-care workers and first responders have used the vehicles as a place to rest and recuperate.
Before building RVezy into a Canada-wide operation with more than 35 full-time employees, McNaught operated a successful home renovation company. In his spare time, he can often be found in local arenas, where he’s an assistant coach with the Cumberland Dukes minor hockey association.