24. May 2013–
Car2Go, Drive-Now, Multicity, Flinkster... With 10 different carsharing providers in Berlin, having to open multiple apps to find out which car is closest when you're late for a dinner date can be a frustrating, but familiar, scenario. This is something the founders of Carjump are all too well-acquainted with – so they've developed an app that collects the different providers in one location together.
We caught up with cofounder Oliver Mackprang to find out how being an entrepreneur means nothing going the way you want and why Berlin is the perfect location for his startup...
Hi Oliver, who are you and what are you doing?
We are trying to aggregate the carsharing market. In the last few years, there's been a steady rise in providers and services – the products are similar, but not quite the same. So we’re trying to create clarity in a market that is in many ways very heterogeneous. Our app is available throughout Germany – we have users in Cologne, Dusseldorf, Munich and Hamburg, though Berlin is the main market.
I chose to come to Berlin before the startup scene happened, for our model the city makes sense. Everyone said Berlin is so up-and-coming and has a great startup culture and, sure, that makes sense, but for us it was more that it’s the epicentre of our market. Berlin has over 10 carsharing services. If you gave me the choice to go to Silicon Valley, I’d still stay here.
How did you come across your idea?
I wanted to create a transparent view for carsharing users. This came from a personal need – I am a huge carsharing user myself and was really aggravated that when I was going out, I’d have to open four or five apps to find cars and let’s be honest, they're also not very clean-coded. Because carsharing is a pay-as-you-use model, it makes sense that people, like me, register with more than one company.
So with one company, you have access to maybe a couple hundred cars in Berlin and if you register with all of them you have at least a thousand. We show users the closest cars and comparisons with the services in one app. Currently we have three providers but we’re working on the next version of the app and that'll contain more. It'll also be available in other cities and come with a booking option as well.
We’ve had providers that weren't on the app come to us and ask what they can do to get on it.
Who are the founders and how did you find each other?
I worked for a German consultancy firm and then an app development agency. It was then that the idea came to me – and once you start thinking about it you have to do it. We have one other cofounder, an app developer called Philipp Huberger, we met throughout the past two and a half years on different projects and decided we’d do it together. Now our team is made up of six people.
There are tons of competitors in this space trying to bring mobility into the mobile market. But if you look at the carsharing segment, I’d say we’re free of any commercial competitors. Plus a couple of hundred thousand people use carsharing in Berlin – so it has big market potential.
How many users do you have?
Since we've launched our app – not even one month ago – we've had over 3000 downloads.
What is your business model?
The app is free and will always be free. What we want to do is receive commission from providers for bringing in new users. So if you're using companies A and B and we introduce you to companies C and D through Carjump, we’d like companies C and D to pay commission for these new users.
Who is financing you?
We haven’t looked for any yet. We’re bootstrapping, though eventually all roads lead to financing. For now, we're not looking.
Is there something that you're missing?
We're always looking for good developers, especially web and mobile.
Jack Nicholson. He seems like a fun guy, he’s always joking around and makes pretty great movies. I’d say a night out with him, lunch is too boring.
Any advice you'd give fellow startups?
Nothing is easy. Nothing ever goes the way you want it to. But the results are still always positive. The main thing for any area in business is build to perform and ship. No matter how many times you dot your i's and cross your t's, it’s never going to be perfect, you just have to get it out there because you can always change it.
Where will you be in a year's time?
I hope we will have all the active German providers within our app and will have launched into some neighbouring countries. Maybe the US. Wherever our big clients and providers go, we’ll go.
Image credit: Flickr user Alan Light
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