In this cash-tight economy entrepreneurs are not only coming up with innovative ways to make money, but are also helping consumers save at the same time. That's essentially the collaborative consumption business model behind San Francisco Bay Area start-up, Getaround, a peer-to-peer car sharing service which helps car owners profit from their vehicles when not using them.
The company, which was recognized at TechCrunch Disruptin NYC, was started by three young entrepreneurs who met at a developers conference, and bonded over the shared idea that there was opportunity for improvement in the transportation industry.
Getaround turns car ownership into a profitable sideline, while addressing urban congestion. Average car sharers make $300 to $400 a month, and top car sharers make can make more than $1,000, depending on the car.
We spoke with 24-year old Jessica Scorpio, one of the three co-founders of Getaround, on how she and partners Sam Zaid and Elliot Kroo, got the business off the ground.
How does it work?
Owners can create profiles of their vehicles and set availability and pricing [from $15 to $500, depending on the vehicle]. Renters can use the website or an iPhone application to find vehicles in their neighborhood, schedule the rental time, and process the transaction. Renters can request up to five cars to rent out; the first owner to respond to the request gets the business.
Where did the funding first come from?
In September 2011, Getaround announced $3.4 million in seed funding. In December 2011, Getaround also received the first-ever federal grant of $1.725 from the Federal Highway Administration to spend towards peer-to-peer car sharing in a pilot program in Portland, Ore.
As part of the build-out of new technology and our platform as well as our expansion into new communities, we see additional funding as a natural next step, but we do not have any specifics on Series A funding at this time.
Who was your first customer?
Our first customer was Dr. Daniel Kraft, a Stanford University professor who also taught through Singularity University [a technology and management program, supported by Google, Cisco and other Silicon Valley companies]. Dr. Kraft shared his car during our initial pilot at Singularity University in Moffett Field, Calif. It was rented through Getaround to students, faculty and staff.
We've already expanded to San Diego and Oregon are looking to expand into new markets. We also want to continue the development of new product features and technology, and expand to platforms beyond the iPhone.
Everyone thinks start-ups are easy, how much time do you commit to your business?
A lot of people won't tell you this, but you sign up for 100 hours a week for at least the first two years, depending on the business. It's like being an investment banker or lawyer.