Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Chris Noone from DriveMyCar.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
DriveMyCar is Australia's first and largest peer-to-peer car rental service. We make it possible for people to rent cars from other people with confidence. We do this by creating a 'trusted marketplace' where owners list their vehicles for free and renters find and book the vehicles after passing our verification processes. Coverage is provided for accidental damage and theft.
We specialise in rental periods from 7 to 365 days and are up to 62 per cent cheaper than traditional car rental companies. We also offer more flexibility than car leasing companies. For owners, we offer the ability to earn money from a vehicle they are not using — a second car sitting in the driveway, for example. Since 2010, DriveMyCar has managed more than 4000 rentals for thousands of owners and renters.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
As DriveMyCar is a virtual business — we do not own any cars or massive parking lots — most of our marketing activity is online. We use Facebook and display with retargeting to create brand awareness. Word of mouth and social media are becoming more important as we grow the business and it's one of our main drivers of sign-ups.
Our funding comes from a range of sophisticated and high net worth investors who can see the growth potential in the sharing economy.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Awareness of the benefits and education about the way we build trust in our marketplace are our key priorities. Our new website is focused on explaining the many benefits of peer-to-peer car sharing. We have also invested heavily in our trust and reputation platform which manages identity verification and credit checks on all renters. We perform these checks to build 'trust' in our platform so that people are confident to engage in rental transactions.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
DriveMyCar is not your traditional car rental company. We are an online peer-to-peer marketplace connecting car owners looking to earn some extra money by renting out their car, with drivers who are no longer prepared to pay high car rental costs and want more choice. It is completely free for owners to list their car and free for both owners and renters to register with DriveMyCar.
We aren't a short-term car share company either. These can be convenient for the short trip around the block or to IKEA, but the cost of driving these vehicles for long periods of time can quickly become very expensive.
We're about tapping into the thousands of cars that are underutilised across Australia (35 per cent of all Sydney households have two cars, for example) and making sure they're available to be used by those who need them. Our cars are available from between seven days to one year, or more, so it's perfectly suited to long holidays or travelling workers.
Drivers can choose from the largest range of privately owned cars in Australia. It's no longer just a white Yaris — there are Fiats, BMWs, even Porsches — we have a huge variety of cars on offer.
Those with a car or two sitting in the driveway, going unused, can offset some or all of the fixed costs of owning their car, or simply make some extra cash when they're not using their car. Imagine having an asset that is no longer simply depreciating the longer you have it — some of our regulars have even bought more cars simply to rent them out on DriveMyCar!
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
I just bought a Samsung Galaxy S6. I avoided the previous models because they felt cheap, but the S6 has a metal frame and Gorilla glass and feels like it will survive my work and play lifestyle. The operation is smooth and fast and the screen and camera are beautiful. Now, if only I could figure out a way to get the battery to last longer . . .
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Delegate, don't procrastinate.
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