In the year 2003, a person named Frédéric Mazzella was trying to visit his parents who lived in the French countryside. However, he could not afford a train or a flight ticket. He decided to drive there with his sister. On the way, he noticed that a lot of people were driving with empty seats in their cars.
In 2007 a lot of French public sector services entered into a strike. This had disrupted transportation all across France. People were struggling to move from one point to another.
Three years later, a volcanic eruption in Iceland rendered the skies of Europe unflyable, grounding all the planes. Here again, people had fewer options to move between major cities.
The above lines might sound like three different incidents. However, all these three bits of news converge at one awesome revolution.
Three years after Frédéric Mazzella observed this discrepancy in the number of people wanting a ride and the number of seats going empty, he founded BlaBlaCar, a carpooling-aggregator company based out of France. It might not enjoy as much popularity as Uber or Lyft, but it cannot be denied that it is a Unicorn valued at more than a billion dollars. As of the last quarter of 2016, the company had 12 million travelers using the platform. The length of the average ride taken by a user was a staggering 300 kilometers.
Carpooling versus ride-hailing
It is to be understood that BlaBlaCar is not a ride-hailing company like Uber. Uber works with a driver who drops riders according to their requirements. The riders pay for the service.
However, when it comes to a service like BlaBlaCar, the driver specifies the point of origin and their destination. If the user finds their requirement to fall in line with the schedule and the plan of the driver, they can join in. Here, there is no payment for the services but rather the sharing of expenses like fuel and vehicle wear and tear.
Also, BlaBlaCar is not about intra-city travel that involves short trips. The company caters to long-distance travel that happens between cities. There have been instances where the booking of the ride has been made days in advance. BlaBlaCar states that people who plan their travel ahead and pay upfront have fewer chances of canceling at the last minute. That’s why the new age entrepreneurs are trying to develop a ride-sharing app that interests people for the short trip transports.
The success of BlaBlaCar
Like any new service, BlaBlaCar faced its share of resistance in the initial years. People had their inhibition in getting into a stranger’s car. However, the train strike in France and the grounding of all flights because of the volcanic eruption contributed to its group. BlaBlaCar is a classic example of a great thing being in the right place at the right time. This event not only helped this carpooling company gain its business but also build its popularity in terms of positive press coverage. The key people in the company have chosen to describe these events by the oxymoron ‘fortunate, unfortunate!’
In 2009, BlaBlaCar expanded into Spain and today, it has its presence in a lot of countries around the world. As of 2014, they had expanded into India, Brazil, Russia, and Mexico.
The success of BlaBlaCar can also be attributed to its meticulousness in choosing the right market. For example, it does not operate in the United States. It has stated that the price of fuel in the US is not high enough to motivate people to choose to carpool.
Europe has a well-developed public transit system, and it only helps in making the services of BlaBlaCar better. For example, a person can get into and intra-city transportation mode like the London Tube. They can then meet a fellow rider in the city before they can travel together to another city.
Today, after attaining the Unicorn status, BlaBlaCar has over 500 employees in multiple countries around the world. It has raised over $200 million in funding. They have established their offices in Paris and London.
The Profit Model:
The success of any business is measured in terms of its profitability. The aim of BlaBlaCar is not to create profit from the passengers but to collect a transaction fee. The transaction fee is placed at 15% cut of the passengers’ fares.
Needless to say, the profit of BlaBlaCar depends on the number of users. Increasing the number of users is quite a mountainous task. It involves breaking inhibition and convincing people to use the services offered. The rating system for the drivers and passengers has greatly helped in increasing the business. BlaBlaCar also insists that drivers connect their Facebook account to increase the validity and credibility of their profile.
The Landscape of Changing Cultures:
The U.S. Census Bureau has concluded that 20% of the commuters carpooled in the 1980s. However, the number sharply has sharply fallen to 9% today. The reason for this drop can be attributed to the concerned about punctuality and the dispersion of workplaces. Outside the US the scenario might be different. People are ready to pay a little extra for the comfort of a good driver from one city to another, and for the time that they are set to save.
Across the world, the car remains the most popular mode of transportation. Carpooling is a good idea to connect people who drive and people who want a drive. The drivers will surely love sharing their expenses rather than getting nothing at all. The passengers would like a comfortable ride from one place to another.
A study by the National Academy of Sciences reveals that carpooling can effectively replace Cabs. All the 14000 cabs in New York can be replaced either by a fleet of 3000 4-person vehicles for 2000 10-person vehicles. In addition to this, the environmental concerns have also started to passively promote carpooling.
Developing a ride-sharing app
In a ride-sharing app, the conventional features of a ride-hailing app like Uber may be present but there are features that need to be defined for the sole purpose of carpooling. So, Initially an entrepreneur should identify those features and develop the app based on those core features. Once the functionalities have been defined, one should find the right way to develop their app.
With the growing startup market, there are multiple options to launch these kinds of apps. In a traditional way, an entrepreneur can go with the scratch app development or alternatively try the modern white-label solutions like Uber clone app.
BlaBlaCar believes that they have just scratched the surface of the market when it comes to carpooling. Just like how Google aimed to build an ecosystem for accessing information, BlaBlaCar aims to create a global transport network. With the healthy pace in which BlaBlaCar is growing, it is quite set to achieve its target.
This would also mean that there is a market for services like BlaBlaCar. If you would like to capitalize on this opportunity by creating a BlaBlaCar clone application, you can make use of the BlaBlaCar clones that are available. AppDupe specializes in creating clones of some of the best carpooling applications, so you don’t have to invest your precious time in building the app from scratch. Get in touch with us for a demonstration and our capable technical and design team will help you customize and launch the app for you.
Jennifer is a business advisor and strategist for Appdupe. She effectively helps new startups and tech companies to achieve their full potential with her unconventional marketing strategies. On a normal day you can find her on a public speaking on how startups can achieve success with a marketing plan.