RideLink lets you earn money by sharing the car you already own, or rent a car from your neighbour.
|Travel, Leisure & Sport Digital B2C
|7 Jan 2015
RideLink is to automobiles what Airbnb is to homes. We allow individual car owners to rent their vehicle directly to others when they aren't using it.
We believe that our growth has been driven by the great value we offer to both owners and renters. Our aim is to give owners access to an easy way to earn money during times when their car would otherwise be sitting parked, and to give renters a fantastic selection of great vehicles, conveniently located near their home or work. Best of all, each rental is fully insured, and includes roadside assistance, giving both owners and renters peace of mind.
Since we launched with investment from Rocket Internet in 2015, and thanks to the tremendous support of our community, we've grown quickly in the UK and have now expanded to Spain and Germany as well, with a clear path to future expansion. We've come to Seedrs to give our community a way to directly share in our success, and continue to support the future of mobility.
For most people, a car is the second most expensive asset they will own, after their home. Despite being so costly, however, in 2013 a study found that the average vehicle in the UK was parked and unused an estimated 96% of the time! In addition to the expense for car owners, all these extra underused cars clog our streets, making parking more difficult, and traffic worse as people drive around searching for parking.
By letting anyone share their car, RideLink offers a solution that gives communities access to thousands of vehicles already located right where people live and work. We believe that this creates demand both from residents who don't own a vehicle or need a certain vehicle for a special purpose (like a trip to Ikea or a wedding), as well as from tourists who prefer to rent from an individual than to patronize a big car rental brand.
As RideLink grows, our hope is that vehicles will be better and more often used, and owners, renters and the community all benefit.
Substantial accomplishments to date
Since we launched in 2015, RideLink has become one of the UK's largest fleets of peer-to-peer shared vehicles, with thousands of cars and tens of thousands of registered users. Our mission is to let every vehicle be a shared vehicle, and ensure renters can always find a great car nearby when they need one. Safety is critical to our business, and we've partnered with world leader Allianz Insurance (https://www.allianz.co.uk/about-allianz-insuran... ) to ensure every rental is covered by a custom insurance policy, designed expressly for this type of rental. This policy supersedes an owner's personal policy to cover the vehicle for the duration of the rental, protecting the owner's safe driving discount, as well as providing liability coverage for the renter. Each rental also includes 24 hours a day roadside assistance.
It's clear that becoming a world leader in this market necessitates expanding beyond the UK, and we are pleased to announce we have done just that, crafting insurance coverage, policies and procedures that meet local insurance regulatory requirements in Spain and Germany, and launching both countries within mere months of another. With three market launches under our belt and an insurance relationship in place that can allow us to expand throughout Europe and beyond, we are in a great position to continue an aggressive and efficient expansion.
RideLink earns money by taking a portion of the proceeds of each rental. We keep 30% of the rental price set by the owner, as well as a 10% renter fee for each booking.
We believe our model scales well because, unlike a traditional car rental company, we do not need to buy vehicles, pay for rental lots, or hire counter staff. Instead, we operate a lean, centralized operation, and can scale quickly and efficiently with comparatively little capital.
Our largest marginal cost is insurance, and here industry trends bode well in the long term for us. While full, driverless autonomy is still many years away, car manufacturers are developing ever more sophisticated auto-pilot features that promise to make vehicle travel much safer in the years to come. We believe that in the future these features will reduce our insurance rates, as accidents become less common for all motorists.
Use of proceeds
We have always relied heavily on our community of owners and renters for support and feedback, and as we raise money from this community, our driving motivation is to continue to improve the platform for them, and continue to grow and serve the community we love. With this in mind, proceeds from Seedrs will be used to:
► Develop new features, and make our platform better; we aim to continue to simplify and automate the rental experience, adding functionality to our mobile apps, and continuing to expand the abilities of our web platform.
► Fund growth and customer acquisition. Since our offering for both renters and owners with scale, this growth will help us continue to offer a fantastic service for owners and renters alike.
► With insurance solved, international expansion begun, and many thousands of rentals under our belt, we believe that now is the perfect time to invite our community to not only share their vehicles, but our future success as well.
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RideLink structure and previous investment
Please note that RideLink is majority owned by Rocket Internet, which provides some office services to RideLink on commercial terms. See below for a structure chart.
We have raised ~£4M from financial investors to date, and will continue to pursue additional financial and strategic investment in the future. For a structure of the business as currently established please see the guide below. As founders, since the beginning we have always prioritized the success of the business in the long term, and will continue to do so in the years ahead. This was the reason we consolidated our operations team for all countries in a single office, despite the additional hiring complexity; this is why we took investment at launch, even though it meant agreeing to a minority/vesting; and this is why we have worked so hard to set up all the pieces for international expansion, so early. With insurance solved, international expansion begun, and many thousands of rentals under our belt, now is the perfect time to welcome our community to not only share their vehicles, but our success as well.
Over 10 billion pounds are spent annually on car rental in Europe alone, and this is without considering the fast-growing use of car sharing, ride sharing, and other new mobility services. While Uber and public transit can be great for a quick trip across town, there are still times we need a vehicle for a longer period - weekends away, visiting family in another city, moving house, shopping at Ikea, or weddings and special occasions. We believe that short-term-use models like taxis or Uber simply don't work for these needs, and are the reason car rental remains a huge market, despite the addition of increasing numbers and varieties of mobility services.
Nevertheless, traditional car rental can be inconvenient and frustrating. To pick up a vehicle, renters need to travel to a centralized lot, likely far from their home or work, and these same offices are usually closed on Sundays and after 6pm on weekdays, when most people want to pick up a vehicle. In our experience, even when they do make it to the office, renters never know what specific vehicle they will receive, and regularly have to contend with long rental lines and last minute fees.
RideLink addresses this market by allowing the vehicles already idle and available throughout cities to be rented to fulfill this demand. We believe that by letting car owners share the car they already own, this market can be disrupted in a similar way to how AirBnb has used peer-to-peer sharing to enter the hotel industry, or indeed, how Uber has disrupted the traditional taxi model. Much has been written on the ability of sharing-economy models to disrupt traditionally asset-heavy businesses, and we think car rental will be next.
With respect to geographic markets, though the UK is our primary market, we believe any successful mobility player has to be multinational, and so we have planned to expand efficiently since Day 1. We already operate in 3 countries using a lean, shared infrastructure, and are well positioned to expand to additional countries quickly, and at low cost.
Characteristics of target market
The principle target market of our model is day-or-longer rental of vehicles in urban centers. This is exactly where traditional car rental plays today.
We are in no way prevented from offering shorter term rentals in the future, but we believe that our current focus on longer, urban rentals distinguishes us from other mobility businesses, and offers several advantages.
First, it pits us against the traditionally non-digital car rental industry, which has typically not had a strong reputation for ease of use, or customer service, and is ripe for disruption.
Next, our focus on rentals longer than a day ensures that we are targeting the highest-value rentals in the market, ensuring healthy per-transaction margins.
Lastly, in our view these rentals are also the best trade off between vehicle owner time and earning potential. We think this is one of the reasons we see very low attrition of our fleet, with organic growth of vehicles outpacing attrition.
We have a two sided marketing strategy, with separate channels, content and optimizations for owners and renters. Key to both of these is our dedication to meticulously tracking the impact of every action we take, and continuing to test and iterate to constantly find what works best and optimize both our marketing spend and the underlying rental platform.
We use the full complement of digital channels, including social media, search, and display advertising. Additionally, we invest in select opportunities for offline marketing, as well as joining with travel or automotive businesses to take advantage of co-marketing or partnership opportunities when they present themselves.
Because, as our research suggests, no peer-to-peer car sharing player globally has yet to have any substantial share of the overall car rental/car sharing market, we see the key to winning as displacing traditional models, and growing the share of peer-to-peer supply as a whole.
With that in mind, we believe that we're fortunate to have substantial advantages over both traditional car rental, as well as traditional car sharing.
When compared to car rental, in our view the key advantages of our offering include:
- No fixed hours. Renters are free to pick up after work, or return Sundays, or whenever is mutually convenient.
- Less traveling to find a vehicle. With thousands of vehicles throughout cities, we can have vehicles much closer than even the largest rental car companies, who are limited by the number of rental lots. Many of our owners even offer delivery!
- Better selection. By pulling from the set of cars real people actually buy, instead of needing to buy large numbers of standardised fleet vehicles, we offer a greater diversity and range of makes and models than any rental agency.
When compared to car sharing:
- We believe we have a cost advantage, with no need to buy vehicles, maintain a distributed fleet, and arrange parking. All these costs are sunk costs for our owners, and so our fleet is self maintaining in this way.
- Better pricing for renters, with no need to monetize by the minute. With the high costs of maintaining their fleet, traditional car sharing services typically require both a monthly or annual subscription fee, as well as charging drivers by the minute or hour. Not so on RideLink: RideLink has no fee to join, and offers simple, daily pricing.
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