Rentecarlo, the U.K. startup and graduate of accelerator Ignite100, is officially launching today with a peer-to-peer car rental marketplace that lets anybody rent out their own car. The idea, which the company’s three Danish founders have been toiling with since mid-2013 before quitting their jobs and studies last year to go full-time, is that car owners can make money on their car’s inactivity while providing car renters with a more convenient option.
“There is a growing tendency in our society, which is the need for on-demand services that allow for access rather than ownership,” says Rentecarlo co-founder and CEO Jacob Aleksander. “We want to be at the intersection of car sharing, car ownership and car rental, by giving access to a wide selection of cars rather than ownership and thereby making better use of cars. At the same time, sharing your car can take 10 cars off the streets, which counteracts the increasingly crowded roads, traffic and pollution.”
In other words, this is a classic (and, dare I say, credible) ‘sharing economy’ play. Anybody can apply to list their car for rental, although Rentecarlo vets all car renters listed on its platform. The car owner then determines the rental price, describes the car and uploads photos of the vehicle. All bookings are made through the site, with the startup handling the required insurance and offering 24/7 road assistance cover in the event of a breakdown.
“Our insurance setup allows car owners to list their cars in less than a minute and renters to instantly sign up, provide their information on our website and rent a car as soon as the car owner approves the request,” explains Aleksander. “Furthermore, we also allow citizens from all EU and Commonwealth countries to use the service for hiring cars when on vacation in the U.K. or similar.”
Of course, car pooling in its many forms — from taxi-style services like Uber to ridesharing — are a plenty. Rentecarlo cites easyCar Club in the U.K., and Drivy and GoMore in Europe, as competitors with the closest business model. There are also pay-as-you-go car clubs like Zipcar.
Not so fast, according to Ignite100’s Paul Smith, citing a supply side problem in the car rental industry that sees 15 per cent of car rental requests go unfulfilled because of problems with supply or out-of-hours access.
“That means there’s a real opportunity for Rentecarlo to tap into an established market without cannibalising existing players. What made Rentecarlo interesting is that they validated a market of individuals willing to provide supply and offer their personal cars for hire,” he says.
To that end, Aleksander says weekly traffic and signups have tripled since leaving Ignite, although he doesn’t give specifics. The startup launches with more than 1,000 signups and almost 300 cars ready to be hired, the majority of which are located in London where Rentecarlo will be focusing for the time being.
“We see that on-demand services are becoming a bigger part of people’s lives and are seeing a shift in ownership behaviour. There is a growing interest in having access to assets, products and services rather than owning them, and we think things will start to really take off the next coming years,” he adds.