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The company connects passengers and drivers who are taking trips across Europe
There has been a lot of disruption in the transportation space in the last few years. You have on-demand services, like Uber and Lyft, that have taken the place of taxis, as well as peer-to-peer networks like RelayRides, which allow regular people to give others access to their cars.
But what if you combined those two ideas, allowing people to connect with each other to split the cost of rides? Then you'd get BlaBlaCar a French long-distance ride-sharing network that has just raised a big $100 million round of venture capital funding.
The round, which was revealed on Wednesday, was led by Index Ventures, with the participation of existing investors Accel Partners, ISAI and Lead Edge Capital. BlaBlaCar has previously raised around $12.5 million, including $10 million in January of 2012.
The Paris-based BlaBlaCar allows users to register their car, and the trips that they plan on taking. That way, other members that intend to be passengers can search and contact drivers that are making the same trips that they are interested in taking. The drivers cover the driving costs, while each passenger in the car also make a contribution for their seat. The company does not employ drivers, nor do they make any money from the service.
Each passenger makes a contribution for their seat, and drivers cover their motoring costs but do not to make a profit. For a typical 200-mile journey, on average drivers charge less than $25 per seat. That, BlaBlaCar says, is still three times lower than what it costs to take any other kind of transportation.
Since its last funding round over two years ago, BlaBlaCar has seen some impressive growth and expansion. It added 11 new countries, giving a presence in 12 altogether, including Russia and Germany. It now has 8 million members, over a million of who share journeys of around 200 miles every single month.
BlaBlaCar is obviously already established across Europe, and the company wants to use the new investment to expand into new markets, though it did not specify which markets in particular.
In addition to the new funding, it was also announced that Index Ventures partner Dominique Vidal will join the board of directors at BlaBlaCar.
The transportation space
Since BlaBlaCar does not employ drivers, it's hard to say that it competes directly with services like Uber and Lyft. The fact is, though, that they are all in the same space, and it is one that has seen a massive amount of money flowing through it lately.
Lyft, for example, recently raised a $250 million round of funding, bring its total to $333 million. Hailo, another competitor, has raised $50 million, most recently raising $30 million, while ridesharing service Sidecar raised $10 million in February.
But the biggest, by far is Uber, which has raised $1.5 billion, including a $1.2 billion round, at a $17 billion valuation, last month.
BlaBlaCar was not available for additional comment.
(Image source: blablacar.com)
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RelayRides is the world's first peer-to-peer carsharing service. Our revolutionary service provides the technology, infrastructure and marketplace for car owners to securely and conveniently rent out their vehicles when they are not using them personally. This provides people seeking convenient transportation with a new option, and makes it easier for urban dwellers to enjoy mobility without owning a car.
As the average US car is driven only 66 minutes a day, RelayRides represents the first opportunity for car owners to monetize this underused asset. By providing the infrastructure, technology and marketplace for car owners to rent out their vehicles, RelayRides gives current car owners the means to monetize a largely underused asset. By enrolling in RelayRides, owners turn a car from an expense into a cash machine, with average profit of approximately $3,550 annually (net of depreciation costs).
How RelayRides Works:
Car owners list their vehicle on the RelayRides website, designate availability, rental price, and who may rent the vehicle (via Facebook and other social networks). Car renters browse available vehicles on RelayRides.com, reserve a car by the hour or day, and swipe an issued card over a card reader sensor on the vehicle for access during rental.
To streamline the rental experience, gas and insurance are included.
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BlaBlaCar connects people who need to travel long distances to motorists who have empty seats, so they can share the costs of a journey.
The innovative website and app allow drivers to publish a planned journey. Just like other travel sites, passengers can then search for and book their ride. BlaBlaCar provides a range of features to create a secure, trust-based community, thanks to a 24/7 member relations team, verified contact details and ratings.
The community is growing fast thanks to very strong word of mouth and highly favourable exogenous factors like rising fuel costs and expensive train fares. BlaBlaCar now has over 7M members.
With over a million people travelling together every month in the community, BlaBlaCar has created a scalable, sustainable, mainstream and money-saving intercity transport alternative for the whole European continent, stretching from the UK to Russia.
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