Social transportation platform Tickengo scores seed money from Kima Ventures

With gas at roughly $4/gallon, French carpooling site has just announced some 1 million carpoolers on its site. Now, its competitor Tickengo has just scored a seed round with Kima Ventures. Coincidence?

The rather active seed fund of Xavier Niel and Jeremie Berrebi did not reveal the exact amount invested in Tickengo’s platform, which was initially launched in 2006 in only 4 French cities: Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse. It wasn’t until 2008 that the platform opened up to all of France and later became available to the US, Canada, the UK and Belgium.

Like other carpooling platforms, Tickengo offers various tools to calculate rates and also has an integrated payment solution to facilitate exchanging money between drivers and passengers. However, unlike some of the other sites, Tickengo’s solution uses a ticketing mechanism whereby users must print tickets and validate them upon arrival at their destination in order to pay the driver. Tickets are validated either via scanning the QR code on the ticket or entering in a pin number. While printing tickets may go counter to the eco-friendly image of carpooling, this type of ticketing does provide a more official and secure way of payment for passengers.

Tickengo’s solution is also available as a free cloud application for companies, organizations and events that wish to facilitate access to their locations for employees and participants.

In Europe, carpooling sites have definitely gotten a lot of attention with last year’s volcanic cloud and the winter snow storms that closed airports and canceled numerous trains. However, a new generation of Zipcar-inspired services have popped up as part of a more eco-friendly initiative, including RelayRides-like CityzenCar.

Tickengo is one of the 100 investments that Kima Ventures has made since its official launch last year. As part of a new international initiative, the fund now only accepts applications in English. In addition to Tickengo, Kima also recently invested in the iPhone app-turned-restaurant-server Storific.