TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based car sharing trip planner GoCarShare.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
goCarShare is a website that helps people share car journeys, it matches passengers and drivers creating a market place for empty car seats.
It’s built around Facebook, and as such maximises the power of people’s social networks. If you can see if you have friends in common with someone you are much more likely to trust them and consider sharing a journey with them than someone that you know nothing about.
There is a rating system that passengers and drivers can use to rate each other that also helps people establish who are trustworthy.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
I self financed the business to get it to its launch. I have done a small family financing round to help prove the concept.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The UK’s traffic problems are getting worse but there is effectively a huge amount of idle capacity. An interesting statistic I have is that there are 38 million empty car seats travelling around Britain every single day.
We would like to make a serious go at reducing this figure. Petrol price have increased over 16% over the last year, so motorists are being squeezed into actually doing something; there is also the green factor, with young people these days having a real pressing concern to make a difference
Describe the business, core products and services?
It’s a long distance operator. A more fun, sociable alternative than going to National Express or the Trainline.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Students at Edinburgh, St Andrews, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Durham univeristies. We are also working with some key festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe and Hay-on-Wye.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We have over 1,000 users to date but the service if currently free to use. We have got some initial traction but are now focusing it in a more specifc demographic.
We are piloting car sharing in Edinburgh and are doing joint promotion with Streetcar.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We are focusing on specific localised areas before expanding the business. The website is free to use.
Once we have scaled the user base, we will looking to getting passengers to pay through the site, taking a commission of about 10% and passing the balance onto the driver upon completion of the journey.
There is also the potential to do location based advertising, advertising products and services relevant to where people were travelling. For example, if people are travelling to Edinburgh in August during the festival period, to advertise shows and hotels in Edinburgh.
As well as this, there is the potential to do bespoke work for organisations on a needs basis.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- We have a fun and simple to use website with a strong brand.
- We do not yet have a developer or CTO in house, but we are looking to recruit one – any leads with good PHP skills are greatly appreicated.
- There is a huge potential to do something exciting in the mobile space, so that people can use their smart phones to make a real time decision about who they are going to car share with.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- When we have validated the market and proved demand, a big company could step in and replicate what we are doing with a larger budget.
I’ve had people say that there simply isn’t the demand for car sharing amongst individuals, that people are too resistant to change to try something like this.
For me the B2C market is where the opportunity is but we’ll keep an open eye on the B2B market in case we can’t generate sufficient demand.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
If people are coming up to me and saying that they are having a great time using goCarShare and are telling there friends about, then it my mind, it has been a success.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.