With the costs of car ownership steadily rising and European city streets filled with cars that remain unused 95% of the time, a fundamental shift in the car ownership system is needed. Drivy has taken on this challenge, with the aim of enabling affordable access to cars and reducing environmental damage. We heard from Drivy's founder, Paulin Dementhon, about their journey to-date and the future of mobility.
Could you tell us a bit about Drivy?
Drivy is the leading car rental marketplace in Europe, with more than 50,000 shared cars available on demand across 6 countries for our 1.5 million users. More than 3 million days of rental have been made through our platform so far.
This success comes from the convenience that our service offers to individuals by granting them the freedom and flexibility of using a car, at a fraction of the cost of ownership.
We provide our users with a proximity-based car rental service at an affordable price, with no agency and no hidden or registration fees, with full mobile experience from booking to check-in and check-out, and with a comprehensive insurance and assistance package.
Drivy aims at building an unrivalled network of cars on its platform with the ambition of having a car available to rent at every street corner to create a cultural shift from ownership towards access so to positively impact urban mobility and environment.
Do you see yourself as competing with ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft?
Uber and Lyft are very different companies from Drivy and we’re operating on two different markets: we’re focusing on rides to get out of the city, whether for professional or leisure purposes.
Our services are complementary: on the long-run, combining short-distance rides with Uber or Lyft and longer trips using Drivy has the potential of creating a cultural shift from ownership towards access in big cities around the world.
Can you tell us a little about how and why the company was founded?
In 2010, I was living in Marseille in a building where three families were sharing one car and its expenses using an Excel spreadsheet. It was a simple and smart way of sharing the cost of this expensive asset, while having much deeper implications. Nowadays, European city streets are crowded with cars that remain unused 95% of the time. Furthermore, owning a car is increasingly expensive. Therefore, creating a platform that would allow people to use shared cars at large scale had the potential to foster economic and environmental benefits by creating a shift from a society where 10 people would own and use 10 personal cars to a society where 10 people would share 1 car, removing 9 cars from the streets.
Based on this assumption, I created Drivy in 2010, with the objective of creating a marketplace that would provide car owners, whether private or professional, with the best solution to rent and earn money from their vehicle while offering to drivers the convenience to rent a car whenever and wherever they need one at an affordable price, and without having to bear the cost of ownership.
7 years later, Drivy has become the leading car rental marketplace in Europe, with more than 1.5 million users and 50,000 cars on the platform across 6 countries. Our goal is to build a product convenient enough to create a cultural shift away from car ownership towards access.
The future of mobility and transportation are hot topics – how do you see the two developing in the next 20 years?
Our vision is and has always been to positively impact urban mobility and transportation in conjunction with environment. As smart technology increases the use of shared mobility services, we are beginning to see a cultural shift away from car ownership towards access for mobility on demand and this is propelling the demand for solutions like Drivy.
I hope that during the following years, Drivy will provide an unrivalled network of shared cars – that may actually be autonomous cars – available on-demand, at every street corner in any major city in Europe but also in other continents.
More generally, transports will be greener, and more complementary: each means of transport will have its own range of efficiency.
You’re present in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and Austria and are now expanding to the UK (congratulations!), what advice do you have for other companies who are looking to scale to a new market?
It always comes down to a central question: does your product fit the market need. In every business, listening to customers is key.
Has scaling come with any unforeseen challenges, and if so, how did you overcome them?
In the first year, I had to face the same challenge every startup has to face which is to be able to manage every task yourself that’s coming up or has to be done. For example, I was handling the customer service hotline myself in the beginning. I received customer calls on my mobile phone around the clock and was personally solving their problems – be it from the office, my home or in the middle of a hike.
But altogether the startup took off quickly, which allowed the team to grow rapidly in order to maintain a constant level of innovation and meet the expectations of its increasing customer base. That was another challenge we met and handled very successfully.
By growing Europe-wide, we now have to face the difficulty of legal standards: for instance, platform regulations differ in France, Belgium, and Germany… Peer-to-peer car-sharing, which is part of our business, is not allowed in Italy for instance. Inhabitants and political leaders increasingly embrace shared mobility services, not only because innovative solutions like Drivy make people's daily lives easier but also because they positively contribute to urban sustainability. If we want innovative mobility services to thrive through Europe, we need harmonized legislations.
How do you see yourself contributing to social or environmental change? And what is Drivy’s social and ecological mission?
The average car sits unused for more than 90% of the time, carries on average just one and a half people and costs on average 6,500 Euro a year to own and run. In addition, each car occupies 150m2 of urban land and still this is not the full bill – congestion costs the EU economy €100 billion annually.
On the other hand, studies on car sharing underline that just 10% of the vehicles could maintain the same level of mobility if shared. In other words, car sharing schemes, whether point to point or free floating also lead to reduced car ownership with studies indicating 5-15 cars are replaced for each shared car added to the fleet.
At Drivy, we aim at creating a shift from a society where 10 people would own and use 10 personal cars to a society where 10 people would share 1 car, removing 9 cars from the streets, bringing fresh air and space to the cities.
What’s next for Drivy?
Right now, our focus is on London and the UK, where we target fast growth by bringing to UK-residents the same value proposition that has fueled our success in all the cities where we already operate: helping car owners to earn money from their vehicle when they are not using it and offering drivers the possibility to rent a car quickly, in proximity to themselves and at an affordable price.