Accel Leads $10M Round In European Airbnb For Car Ride-Sharing, BlablaCar

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BlablaCar, a European carpooling marketplace that connects any driver who has empty seats with paying passengers, has raised $10 million from Accel Partners and existing investors ISAI and Cabiedes & Partners. This brings BlablaCar’s total funding to $12.5 million.

On BlablaCar, drivers can register, publish their trips and contact other members who are making the same trip as you by sending them a message or calling them directly by telephone. If you’re a passenger, you can search the site and contact a driver who has published a trip that interests you. If you don’t find a trip that interests you, you can always publish your trip and have other members contact you.

The service is free but drivers can charge a fixed price per passenger, which averages at around €20 per ride. Passengers choose to pay via BlablaCar’s online booking system or directly in the car. For now, BlablaCar is only available in the UK, in France (Covoiturage.fr) and Spain (Comuto.es). Part fo the funding will be used to fuel further expansion of its service across the rest of Europe.

Currently, BlablaCar has 1.6 million users, with 400,000 drivers currently offering their empty seats to passengers. One billion miles have been collectively shared by the community for more than 8 million passengers transported. And the site is seeing 40 million page views per month, says CEO Frederic Mazzella. He adds that most of the trips on the site are long, weekend trips as opposed to commuter fares.

As Mazzella explains, BlablaCar is spearheading collaborative travel, and providing major discounts for travelers, while also creating a revenue stream for drivers. In terms of safety precautions with the service, Mazzella says that every passenger and driver has to register with the site with a valid phone number and other information. Each user is rated on the site, which he says helps create credibility and accountability, and members with negative ratings are blacklisted.

BlablaCar is similar in theory to U.S.-based startup Ridejoy and ZimRide, which also aims to be a carpooling marketplace.