Meet CarNextDoor, a startup making it BIG as a peer to peer car sharing platform
Car Next Door. The name says it all.
CarNextDoor is a peer-to-peer car sharing platform connecting car owners with borrowers who wish to rent a self drive car. The innovation and business model behind CarNextDoor has made it a huge success in Australia. The startup has not just made it easy for people to rent a car on hourly or on per day basis but has created an income source for car owners as they can earn money by renting their car to trustworthy people. All transactions are being done on the platform itself.
Car Next Door started its operations from the city of Sydney in 2012 and has expanded to Melbourne as well. The company plans to expand to pan Australia really soon. Here are few facts about this startup.
Car Next Door Facts:
Startup Vertical: Car Sharing
Founders: Will Davies and David Trumbull.
Founded: In 2012.
HeadQuarters: Sydney, Australia.
Areas Served: Sydney, Melbourne.
CarNextDoor Funding: $1.3 Million (As of Jan 2016)
About Car Next Door
To know more about the awesome business model and the value propositions being offered by CarNextDoor to its customers, we had a talk with the founders. Here’s all that they said:
Q) Starting a car sharing platform is definitely a great idea. Tell us a little about Car Next Door and your personal motivation for starting this marketplace?
Car Next Door is Australia’s first peer-to-peer car sharing service. Car owners can rent out their own cars when they aren’t using them. Borrowers can search for and hire cars in their neighbourhoods. We’re shaking up the whole concept of personal car ownership. We want anyone in our cities to be able to access a car within a 5-minute walk, without everyone needing to own one.
We provide the in-car technology, online booking and payment system, insurance and member support to let people share personal cars safely and easily.
We launched on Christmas eve, 2012. Dave and I started Car Next Door to remove people’s dependency on personal vehicle ownership and fundamentally change the way people make their transport decisions.
I got the idea because I used to use ‘traditional’ car share, but one day I started to think about how much more efficient it would be to use one of the cars that was just sitting around on the street. I looked into it and found that this was already happening overseas in the U.S. and Europe. Dave and I thought that we could design a peer-to-peer car sharing system that was tailored for Australian cities.
Q) Can you give us a rundown of how it works?
Here’s how it works:
- We install a device (we call it ‘Fred’) in regular cars for Car Owners. This lets Borrowers access the keys, and tracks the car’s location.
- The Car Owner uses their car when they need it, and when they aren’t using it it’s made available to book on the Car Next Door platform. The car is covered by our fleet insurance policy, whether the owner or a borrower is driving.
- Once a Borrower becomes a member, they can search our platform from their mobile or desktop computer, find a car that suits them and book it.
- The Borrower uses a one-time pin we SMS to them to access an electronic lockbox attached to the car’s window and access the keys
- They use the car and our GPS tracking device measures how far they have gone.
- The Borrower drops the car back. Our system bills the Car Borrower and pays the Car Owner. If there are any tolls or fines, we allocate them to the right person and process the payment through our billing system.
Watch this quick video which shows how it all works.
The whole process is simple and quick, and doesn’t require any time or effort from the Car Owner. There is no need to exchange keys, coordinate times or meet.
Car Next Door conducts a credit checks and driving history checks to ensure that only the best of drivers become members. Car Owners and Borrowers are covered for damage under Car Next Door’s comprehensive insurance policy.
Q) What is the value proposition you are offering to customers ?
There are millions of Australians with cars sitting around doing nothing at their homes, businesses and in airports right now. On the other side there is an even bigger group of people who don’t want the hassle and expense of owning a car, but still want to use one every now and again.
We have created a way for people with underused cars to share them out during the times of the day or week that they aren’t using them, through a platform that links these 2 groups together. We’re saving people a lot of money and helping the environment.
The long term aim is to cut personal transport costs in half, permanently remove 87,000 cars from the Australian vehicle fleet, reduce Co2 emissions by 84,000 tonnes per year and foster greater community engagement.
Car Next Door has some great environmental, health and economic benefits:
- One shared car typically removes up to 8 individually owned cars, and people who car-share drive 40% less.
- Because people who car-share drive less, they walk, run, ride and catch public transport more, meaning more incidental exercise.
- Our car owners earn between $2 & $10k per year sharing their cars, and our borrowers save lots of money through not owning a car and just using one when they want it.
CarNextDoor Marketing & Branding
Q) What is one particular Marketing Tool or process which you swear by, that has helped you gain more users on the platform?
Word-of-mouth referrals; and local letterbox drops of ‘home-made’ looking flyers around newly joined cars.
Q) How did you go about getting car owners on your platform?
We started with a lot of face-to-face discussions with car owners in a few pilot suburbs. Once we launched there and really refined the technology and processes, we were able to grow through word-of-mouth, local direct marketing, and low-cost online marketing.
Q) What are your future plans? Are you planning to integrate more features in the service?
We’ve recently moved from a third-party software platform to our own custom-built platform. This means that we can really tailor the platform to meet the needs of our business. We have a long list of features that we’re working through to continually improve the service. Now that we’ve raised capital we plan to increase our development team and really accelerate this work.
Q) What is Car Next Door’s biggest achievement to date? How did you go about accomplishing this?
Creating Australia’s first peer-to-peer car sharing network is our biggest achievement. There is no-one else doing what we’re doing in Australia at the moment. We did this by having a real focus on the lean startup learning cycle, piloting and testing everything, keeping costs low, pivoting fast, and always trying to learn as much as we can about what makes this kind of service attractive to users.
Car Next Door Future Plans
Q) You are present in Sydney and Melbourne as of now. Do you plan to launch services in new regions? If yes, what would be your strategy?
Yes, we are aiming to launch in several new Australian cities next year. We will use the money we recently raised to scale up rapidly (by hiring more developers to refine our software, increasing our marketing spend, and commencing operations in new cities).
Q) Where do you see Car Next Door in five years?
We want to have at least 10,000 cars shared through the platform, which has led to a massive ‘de car-ing’ of Australian cities. Personal vehicle sharing will become the norm, and owning your own car that’s used just by you will seem as crazy as owning a private jet.
Q) Any advice for startups trying to make it big in the sharing economy?
It’s easy to have a great idea – but you need to have a really clear idea of your revenue model, and don’t underestimate the sheer hard work it takes to get something up and running. There seems to be a common misperception that sharing economy companies just put themselves in the middle of transactions and cream the profits. That’s not true. You need to create a platform that provides real value to each side of the market, and often take the risk before you see any rewards.