Interview of Patrick Foster, Chief Operating Officer at Drivy: the company that wants to rethink the way car rental works today.
Can you tell us a bit more about Drivy?
Drivy is Europe’s #1 peer-to-peer car rental service. Drivers can rent the cars available in their areas to go on a weekend or business trip. Today Drivy offers 38,000 cars to over a million users in Europe.
How many countries is Drivy available in?
Drivy was created in 2010 in France and is now available in Germany, Spain, Austria & Belgium.
How do you prioritize the launches of new markets?
We look at several criteria:
- The market’s potential: Population, Car-rental market size, smartphone equipment, level of interest in the Sharing Economy…
- Product constraints: Payment systems for example (we had to add Paypal for Germany)
- Regulatory constraints: Legal obstacles, fiscality…
Once you’ve chosen the country, what does your timeline look like?
The first step is preparation. We translate and adapt the website, set up the insurance contract, Terms & Conditions and recruit a Country Manager who will then build his local team. This all happens in Paris.
During this preparatory phase, the Country Manager is “incubated” in Paris and gets involved in all the Marketing & Localization work.
We then launch our marketing & communications actions, to get the first cars and build up an offer strong enough to attract renters. It’s only when we have a minimum number of cars available on the platform that we open the service for drivers. From this point forward, we get the first rentals and it progressively takes off.
What are the resources that you allocate to your international development?
It’s about people and time. The French team sets everything up (especially the tech team who adapts the platform) and provides strong support to our local teams, by sharing their experience of the French market. These local teams are 3-4 people strong and fully dedicated to local business development & growth.
Of course, every launch comes with a marketing budget to acquire the first cars and clients.
What were the main challenges you had to tackle?
We had to face cultural difficulties, as it’s not easy to create real bonds and a strong belonging sentiment between teams scattered all over Europe. You have to make them think international right from the start of every task and project, and not only focus on their own market.
We also had to tackle law and fiscal challenges as the rules are different from one country to another, even within the European Union. We also had to make hard choices between organic growth and acquisition.
On the contrary, what’s really easy?
To get up every morning, with an extra bit of motivation by feeling the energy of these new teams all over Europe, who live a real start-up adventure of their own!
Before we leave you, do you have a fun fact you could share with us about your international development?
We often see differences in the way journalists welcome our service across Europe. For instance, when we launched the rental agreement on mobile, this didn’t make the news in France or Germany, whereas we saw a warm welcome in Spain, with amazing covers!
Finally, what are the next steps for Drivy’s international development?
In the short term, we already plan to launch Drivy in 2 new European countries by the end of 2016. In the long term, we really hope to grow outside of Europe.
Started in 2010 by Paulin Dementhon, Drivy lets you rent one of the thousands of cars and vans available in your area. It’s fast and affordable, so you can get going without hassle.
Early 2016, Drivy offered 38,000 cars to over a million members in France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Belgium.
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