Four years in, NextGen business ferries success

By April Hall

Dan Campagna, front row, right, founded Everyday Freight with a loan from his family's business.After four years, Everyday Freight is moving under its own steam. However, it wasn’t a given that a 23-year-old could start his own business.

That’s where the Dan Campagna’s family came in. Campagna, Everyday Freight’s founder, is a third-generation member of the Rowntree business family in Canada. A few years ago the family shifted its business model from car dealerships to real estate and private equity funding. They also wanted to encourage the next generation to flex its entrepreneurial muscle and announced they would fund young family members who had solid business proposals.

Campagna was the first to take the challenge. He worked for a freight brokerage for a few years and wanted to go out on his own. He knew the industry well and knew that opening his own shop would require very little overhead.

First, the family told him to apply for a traditional bank loan. This meant Campagna had to write a formal business plan with forecasts, market analysis, assessment of the competition, etc.

“It didn’t work, which I think [the family] knew it wouldn’t. I was young and I had no collateral,” Campagna says. “I think it was for them to see the feedback I got.”

With the business plan still in hand, Campagna met with the C-suite executives at Rowntree Enterprises. The panel also included “some of the transportation-specific people from their circles,” he says. He presented his plan, answered questions and left the meeting confident. “I felt like I didn’t get caught off-guard on too much.”

(Related Story: Family Business magazine gives NextGen a voice to pitch their business idea!)

With the family loan approved, Campagna started with $250,000 (Canadian) in cash flow and an additional $100,000 he needed for a Department of Transportation bond. He launched Everyday Freight in 2013 as a “middle man” for moving cargo.

The loan was paid back in three years’ time, Campagna says. The family still owns a 25% stake in the company, but there are discussions on the terms under which Campagna can buy the family’s portion and have sole ownership.

No one else in his generation has pitched a business plan to the family, but Campagna says he’s glad the opportunity will be there for a future entrepreneur and proud to be the first one to make the leap.

“We’re lucky that our family is doing these kind of investments,” Campagna says. “There are others that don’t set cash aside for this kind of thing. But I do think this is a good way for family businesses to have another revenue stream.”

Are you a NextGen in a business family? Do you have a great idea you’d like to pitch, but want to get solid feedback first? At the upcoming Transitions West conference, we’re introducing “Fam Tank,” a Shark Tank-style special session for young entrepreneurs to test their business pitch on an experienced panel of businesspeople. Send your idea to April Hall to have it considered for the conference in San Diego Nov. 1-3. Presenters will get free registration to the conference.