Drivy, an ‘Airbnb for car rental’, has raised $35M to take on the likes of Hertz

Drivy, a French start-up that lets you put your own car up for rent or hire someone else's, has raised 31 million euros ($35 million), as it looks to take on established rental companies.

Cathay Innovation and Nokia Growth Partners (NGP), which is Nokia's venture capital fund, led the round with the participation of early investors Bpifrance's Ecotechnologie Fund and Index Ventures.

The nearly six-year-old start-up lets you put your car on its platform to be rented. And a user can hire a car, just like they would rent a place on Airbnb for example.

Drivy was founded in 2010 and currently operates in France, Germany and Spain. The new cash injection will be used to expand into new European markets.

"We are going to open in at least three more countries in Europe, then we will scale to be able to open many more next year including outside of Europe," Paulin Dementhon, founder and chief executive of Drivy, told CNBC by phone.

The entrepreneur said the U.K. would be one of those markets, but has not yet decided on the other two.


Part of the money will also be used on improving the software, with the aim of making the service on-demand. This will require a larger supply of people putting their vehicles up for hire with Dementhon adding that it will require a large marketing push.

The company is also looking to expand its product called Drivy Open. This allows people to rent a car, and instead of having it dropped to them, they can go to the car and unlock it themselves with an app. Drivy fits a special piece of hardware into the device that connects with this specific smartphone app to unlock the car, meaning the owner doesn't need to be there for someone to unlock a car. Currently 300 cars out of the roughly 40,000 on the platform are equipped with this technology, something Dementhon is hoping to increase.

In 2015, Drivy's revenues grew 100 percent, but Dementhon could not give the actual figures as they are confidential. Since its inception, 1.4 million days of rental were completed with Drivy.

Competition to Uber?

Drivy is looking to disrupt traditional car rental companies like Hertz and Enterprise but could also be seen as competitors to the likes of Uber as well as fellow French start-up BlaBlaCar, which is a ride sharing app for long-distance journeys. If you are able to rent a car fairly cheaply, why would you need to use a ride sharing service?

Dementhon explained that the services are in fact complimentary.

"The use case is different. The average rental is 3.2 days, it is decreasing slowly. Since we reduced the friction of using our service it is becoming possible to use it for half a day. You would never take an Uber for half a day otherwise it's too expensive," Dementhon said.

"The best news for us is that these companies are going faster and pioneering the sector. Ten years ago if you wanted a good level of service for mobility, you just buy a car, there was no doubt about it. Today because of the complementarity between the services, you can have a better level of mobility with all these apps."

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