9. April 2013–
Car-pooling site BlaBlaCar has launched in Germany today as part of its pan-European rollout.
The service, which has amassed over 3.1 million members from across 12 European countries, connects drivers with would-be passengers. It will now have an office in Hamburg, with German entrepreneur Olivier Bremmer to lead a team of five.
"What we've seen in the first hours since launching in Germany is an amazing number of sign-ups," said co-founder and COO of BlaBlaCar Nicolas Brusson. "Germany could become our biggest market very quickly. They've been doing car sharing for over 30 years, which hasn't been the case in other countries where we explain what we do and how it works."
BlaBlaCar is rivalling the likes of Carpooling, or Mitfahrgelegenheit (as it's known in Germany), which also encompasses other modes of transport. But Brusson argues that BlaBlaCar is a more community-focused product: "It's closer to what Airbnb does so it's about building trust in communities, including things like ratings, asking people to connect with Facebook, and adding photos, so we have a better idea of who's who and who's travelling with who."
The service first launched in Paris in 2006, and has since received a $10m financial boost from investors Accel Partners and ISAI in January, 2012, to expand the service's operations from France, the UK and Spain – into the rest of Europe.
Brusson says that since March this year, more than half a million people are using the site each month.
"Collaborative consumption and this whole sharing economy is what we're part of... There's Airbnb for home-sharing, and then there's us for cars. There's a growing wave around this concept of not needing to own everything and being able to access what's there," says Brusson.
BlaBlaCar currently employs over 65 people across Europe – 45 of which are based in its Paris HQ. The service also has offices in London, Madrid, Milan and Warsaw.
Image credit: flickr user infomatique