Meet Heetch, a French ride-sharing app with a twist. Instead of going head-to-head against Uber, Chauffeur-Privé or LeCab in Paris, the company is operating a ride-sharing service that only works at night, mostly when you’re out partying. The company recently raised $500,000 from Via-ID and has been growing steadily for the past 9 months.
“Our users generally take the subway during the day. That’s why we only target people looking for a ride at night,” co-founder and CEO Teddy Pellerin told me in a phone interview.
Heetch is very reminiscent of other ride-sharing apps. You get a ride using the app, and then you can donate money at the end of your ride. There is a suggested price. On average, a ride costs $16 (€12) — it is supposed to be 30 percent cheaper than a cab ride in Paris.
There are now 200 active drivers on the app, but it doesn’t mean that every driver is on the road on a Friday or Saturday night. On a typical weekend night, there are 50 drivers accepting rides. According to Pellerin, the service needs to double this number to have a reliable service.
Here’s the number of rides per week for the past nine months:
As you can see, Heetch has a healthy growth rate. To give you an idea, the service is now very close to managing 1,000 rides a week. The company takes a 20 percent cut on every ride. In other words, the company is probably still far away from profitability, but is heading in the right direction.
Djump and UberPop are the two others ride-sharing apps out there in Paris. There are very few UberPop cars available right now. Uber is still mostly focused on the black car and UberX services in Paris. As for Djump, it is probably the closest competitor to Heetch. Both are still growing, and it remains to be seen whether there is room for two different ride-sharing companies in Paris.
As long as you have a car and a driver’s license, you can become a Heetch driver. There is no requirement when it comes to driving experience. Every driver gets a rating, and Heetch follows this rating pretty closely, like every other urban transportation startup out there.
Heetch is not reinventing the wheel but is trying to solve a very real problem. Uber now often suffers from surge pricing on weekend nights, and there is often no available Chauffeur-Privé driver when you’re looking for a ride. By asking drivers to be active during these specific hours, Heetch could attract a healthy user base and make a name for itself in this very competitive market. But it will be a long and winding road.