1. Why did you found your startup, which problem do you address and how do you solve it?
On our daily commute in Munich and Stuttgart, we have all witnessed ever-increasing traffic congestion. With our carpooling platform dedicated to the way to work, we address this societal problem and enable our users to reduce their vehicle costs and emissions by over 50%, while creating productive time for them while traveling.
2. What is special about your business-model, what are you doing differently?
We offer our platform to companies and charge a monthly SaaS fee. The employees are using RideBee without any commission and only reimburse each other for the vehicle costs. This is – in combination with specific convenience features such as group chats, live location sharing and integrated payment – important in order to retain users on the platform even after they have found a suitable carpool.
3. What was your greatest success so far?
At our latest company project, we were able to acquire over 350 users for RideBee and have thus outperformed our own goals. It is important to reach a critical mass in the very beginning and we ensure this through several online and offline channels on-site.
4. What would you recommend other founders?
First: Don’t listen to the naysayers! There will always be people who render barriers to high or simply wouldn’t use your product personally and thus don’t believe in the business model. Second: In order to get your company off the ground quickly, focus on two things – product development and sales! Don’t underestimate how many hours other small tasks accumulate to and how little time you will sometimes find yourself putting into these two areas.
5. Where did you meet?
Lukas and Tobias got to know each other studying abroad in Melbourne in 2014. In another exchange semester 2017 at Carnegie Mellon University, Fabian and Lukas have met. As a team, we are based in Munich.
6. What was the roughest rejection you ever got in a pitch?
How can you claim to reduce car traffic, when in fact you are cheaper than Uber and therefore make car usage more attractive than public transport or cycling? – It is true that some shared mobility modes in fact create more vehicle kilometers than they save. However, as most of our customers are based in rural areas, where alternatives such as public transport are less attractive, we don’t cannibalize on other sustainable modes of transport.
7. Where do you see your startup in 3 years?
In 2022 we will operate on a solid B2B customer base within Europe that is using our extended corporate mobility solutions. Further, we will have extended our reach through a B2C carpooling application – serving points of interest such as airports, football stadiums, festivals and fair locations.
8. Do you still have a proper social life since the founding?
We have started off by working 7 days a week, 12-16 hours a day in critical times. But we realized that we were cutting down on sleep, sports, meeting friends and other leisure activities. In the long term that neither keeps you happy nor productive. By now we have learned to schedule off-time and still meet our milestones.
9. If an investor gave you 500.000€ what would you do with the money?
In fact we are currently seeking investment. Roughly half of the money is allocated for product development in order to further improve the user experience on all devices (we’re available on iOS, Android and web) and thus user retention. The other half would go into sales and marketing to leverage the good momentum corporate social responsibility initiatives that we’re currently facing.
10. Let’s say you are the Governing Mayor of Munich for one day, what would you change?
Not sure if the following would all be in our power: If possible, we would introduce higher parking fees and a congestion charge, allocate resources to building new and improving existing bike infrastructure and get pilot projects running such as dedicated carpool lanes (in the suburbs). And as we are only in office for one day, we would make sure the decisions are irreversible.