Campers for Tesla Cybertrucks
As founder and CEO of Stream It, King's background in data centers led him to an opportunity with transit vehicles.
The Las Vegas-based company developed a platform to stream HD video from 10 cameras on a municipal bus. But the COVID-19 pandemic diminished ridership, leading to a big pivot to a camper for the upcoming Tesla Cybertruck: CyberLandr.
"What do we do? Transit is shut down, and we need to find another line of work," says King. "We were bouncing around different ideas, and it turned out I had ordered a Cybertruck the day they announced it."
He says he wasn't really a pickup guy, but thought Tesla was "really stretching the boundaries of what a vehicle could be" with the Cybertruck. That led to the opportunity: "No traditional pickup camper would work."
King says Stream It was uniquely positioned to fill the void because of its experience with tech and transportation, so the team embarked on R&D. "Aerodynamics are so important for electric vehicles, much more than a gas vehicle," says King. "What if we could have no aerodynamic drag by fitting it entirely in the Cybertruck's vault? That would be the holy grail, because then your reduction in range would only be based on weight, not by aerodynamics."
That led to a collapsible design -- the CyberLandr retracts into the pickup bed on the road -- along with retractable solar panels, an automatic door, and induction cooktop. The shell is largely made of advanced composites, and the interior features a bedroom, living room, bathroom, and kitchen.
The business moved to Austin before launching pre-orders for the CyberLandr in April 2021.
King says he initially looked to RV manufacturers to partner with on production. "None of them had what it takes," he says. "It would have to be an outsider. Nobody in the industry is using the right materials or the right design."
It follows that the company plans to build the campers in-house with support from a network of suppliers, says King. "It made sense to make them here and pair them up with Cybertrucks as they leave the factory," he says.
The company debuted a functional prototype in September 2021. King says CyberLandr is working with Munro & Associates to launch manufacturing. "Ideally, we'll have between 100,000 and 150,000 square feet of manufacturing space. That's what we're targeting."
There hasn't been a lack of interest. With about 2,500 deposits for the $49,995 camper, CyberLandr hasn't had trouble generating sales as the Cybertruck's release date is uncertain. "It sells well, especially considering how little effort we put into marketing," says King.
Challenges: Launching a robust manufacturing entity amid a lot of unknowns. "None of us know when Tesla will actually ship the Cybertruck," says King. "Our goal from the very beginning has been to have people's CyberLandrs ready when their Cybertruck is ready… That might be difficult for the very first Cybertrucks that ship. It's dependent on when Tesla will share the final specifications for it."
Opportunities: Catalyzing the sleepy camper category. King says the 2,500 backorders represent more than half of the average year for camper sales. "Last year, they sold a grand total of 4,340 pickup campers across all makes and models of pickups in the United States," he says. "We think there's probably demand for 10,000 [CyberLandrs] a year. That would be more than twice the existing pickup camper market."
The math makes sense when you consider the allure of an electric vehicle made for adventure. "Our most recent research showed that 15 percent of our customers had no interest in the Cybertruck or -- in many cases -- in a pickup at all until they saw CyberLandr," says King. "They said, 'That's what I want next. That will empower my lifestyle.'"
He adds, "I think we're going to redefine the whole market."
Needs: Capital. While the company raised nearly $700,000 on StartEngine, "You need tens of millions to do something like this," says King. "We're seeing lots of interest and a lot of activity, and we hope to announce something before too long."