StressFreeCarRental provides rental options based on more than price, including details on insurance excess, fees and deposit options.
Created in 2019, the company is in the process of adding several new transport categories to its website to give customers more choices beyond self drive car rental.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
We’re on a mission to make the process of car rental stress free.
We do this by comparing all of the different rental options based on much more than just price, including full information on zero security deposit options, insurance excess amounts, which rentals accept debit cards and providing our customers full transparency on all of the different insurance options, so there are no hidden fees or nasty surprises when they collect the car.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Our business earns a commission on each rental purchased on the website. We built our technology platform from the ground up using a micro services architecture on Amazon Web Services.
The design of our platform means that we have the ability to massively scale without a significant increase to our technology costs.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- The founding team have decades of experience in delivering online innovation within the travel industry. Combined with the fact that we own our own technology stack, this means that we can be incredibly innovative and agile, cost effectively turning ideas into working digital products at pace, enabling us to quickly deliver an improved experience for our customers whenever we identify the opportunity to do so.
- We are still a small team, so have some issues with key man dependence in the short term. Now that we are funded, this risk will reduce as we recruit and grow the team over the next 12 months. We also believe that our supply pricing in some markets is slightly higher than our competitors, this will improve as our booking volumes increase as we scale up.
- We have the opportunity to improve the car rental experience for our customers. We are also in the process of adding several new transport categories to our website to give our customers more choices beyond self drive car rental.
- The biggest threats to the business are situations the affect the entire market, like the ongoing pandemic. Our best protection from this is to be trading domestically in as many overseas markets as possible.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Often car rental customers book a rental only to find that large security deposits and hidden fees need to be paid when they collect the car. The lack of transparency on many car rental websites is caused by the website’s attempt to sell the customer their own insurance product before collection.
We solve this problem for our customers by ensuring the customer can compare all of the key information and insurance options along with the price.
This is also delivers value for our car rental partners, as we offer them the opportunity to sell their own insurance products to our customers, meaning that we provide a better customer experience and an improved average transaction value for our car rental partners.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
We have a multi-channel b2c strategy, based on organic search and various online paid channels. We’re also rolling out our b2b offering to work with partners on a commission share basis.
Our recent investment is focused on scaling both our b2c and b2b sales activity, so our key new hires in the next few months will be focused in these areas.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
I had the initial idea for the business whilst I was queuing to collect a rental car and wondering why the collection process was taking so long.
I could see that each customer collecting the car was having an argument with the car rental rep at the desk, this started me thinking about why car rental collection was such a bad experience and what could be done to fix it.
Having worked in the travel industry for some time, it was relatively straight forward to go from this anecdotal evidence to researching existing busines models in the market and market size.
We then had initial conversations with our first car rental supply partners, who liked the concept of our business model and supported us to get the business up and running.
How and when will you make money?
We’re already generating revenue. Each time a car is booked we earn a commission.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
David Mathews, Rory Powers and I had previously founded and exited a SaaS online travel booking platform business. We also worked with our chairman, James Jennings, as a strategy advisor for many years in our previous business.
Early on in our planning phase, we were also lucky enough to bring in a highly experienced advisor, Tom Knopek, and a very talented technical architect, Vishal Verma, who had also worked with us previously.
Our shared experience of having scaled and exited a similar business previously has given us a massive boost in terms of getting this business off the ground. I’m very fortunate to have been able to start two businesses with the same highly talented team.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
Our business has a culture that encourages diversity of ideas and ways of thinking. We strive to create a culture of ownership, where each member of the team has an obligation to think critically and is comfortable challenging the status quo wherever its appropriate to do so.
We’ve also embraced a hybrid model of working for our staff. Enabling them to work from either home or the office on their own schedule.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
We were forecasting 2020 to be our first year of trading but unfortunately the pandemic reduced demand for leisure car rental to almost zero.
The team used the time to focus on enhancing our online presence and improving the functionality on our website, which meant that we started trading this year in a much stronger position than if we’d started in 2020.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
There is a genuine need to improve transparency and customer experience within the car rental sector.
We have an exceptionally talented and experienced founding team and we own our own tech stack, this puts us into a prime position to capture market share whilst addressing the problems faced by customers.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
One year from now we’ll be continuing to increase the number of bookings we’re taking from English speaking markets, whilst also offering alternative modes of transport including vehicles with a driver, we’ll also be capturing market share in the major non English speaking markets as soon as the translated versions of our website are live in Q1 next year.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc
We’re aware of the various possibilities that might unfold in terms of an exit at some point in the future; but It feels way too early to say at this stage.
At the moment we’re just enjoying the process of scaling the business and excited by the opportunities that lie ahead.
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