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The concept of the sharing economy is not exactly new: some of the earliest forms of human transactions involved bartering of goods and services, but it is the digital revolution that has brought this practice into the mainstream. With AirBnb leading the market for peer to peer (P2P) home sharing, why not extend this to our other assets?   The sharing economy has been on an exponential growth curve over the last couple of years and has been the subject of considerable interest to the stakeholders and policy-makers across the globe.  Why shouldn’t we monetise our assets, and where better to start than with – invariably – our second most valuable investment, our cars?

HIYACAR co-founders, Graeme Risby and Rob Larmour, recognised this huge potential and founded the business in 2014.  The management team has an exceptionally strong pedigree:  Graeme is a social entrepreneur and former Risk Analyst at Smith & Williamson; he founded an early property selling service in 2008 and so was fully equipped to take on the concept within the automotive sector.  Rob is also an experienced e-commerce professional, with previous roles including Head of Marketing at Pigsback.com.  The rest of the team includes the former MD of Zipcar and former CTO of Whipcar, the world’s first P2P car sharing platform.

‘Though many of us think of our cars as a valuable asset’, explains Graeme, ‘if you really think about it, they’re actually our biggest liability.  It costs the average Londoner over £4,000 a year to run a car: parking permits, road tax, petrol, insurance, depreciation and congestion charges etc therefore take up a very large percentage of our incomes.  And yet how often do we actually use our cars?  I was speaking at an event recently and conducted a quick survey: 70% of the people in the room owned a car, but only 5% of them drove it for more than an hour a day.  In other words, car ownership, particularly in the capital, is an expensive luxury.

Initially, the P2P car share market was stifled by regulations, but in 2015 HIYACAR agreed a comprehensive P2P insurance product with AXA.  ‘The car hire industry has traditionally been one of the least customer friendly,’ continues Graeme.  ‘We knew that this was a sector ready for disruption, we had the vision and – crucially – the technology to achieve this.  We have built a customised, 100% owned platform that provides a service that will change ownership and usage of cars forever, for everyone, allowing owners to generate income 24/7 by sharing out their cars to a vetted, fully insured community of drivers with no hassle or time wasted.  In a UK first and exclusive to HIYACAR, we offer a full keyless car opening solution – QuickStart - which means that owners and drivers don’t even need to meet each other as cars can be unlocked and started via the app.  We are also developing multiple partnerships with key players in the ecosystem -  such as car manufacturers - and building solutions for organisations to enable employee to employee sharing.

So how does it actually work? ‘In order to join the HIYACAR community, all our members are subject to a comprehensive vetting process.  This supports the core of our business which is based on transparency and trust, and we have maintained the safety aspect by a best in class ‘Know Your Customer’ process.  A driver can then book a car of their choice and add the full insurance cover provided by AXA.  This is very much supporting the ‘Amazon generation’ - providing simple, immediate car sharing with minimal fuss - and in complete contrast to the traditional car rental sector.  We provide full, best in class UK based community support and operate an incentive led ratings system – just like AirBnb – which drives efficiency and quality.  For drivers, we appeal both to urban dwellers who can’t or chose not to afford the cost of running a car but occasionally need one, to the young professionals with an ‘asset light’ lifestyle and to the average income family, with diverse and uneven transport needs (potentially occasionally a second car).  For the owners, this is attractive to the opportunist who just wants a bit of extra spending money to those with a higher disposable income with a second car that isn’t used as regularly.  Quite simply, this will benefit anybody who owns a car or needs one for a limited period of time (our average rental period is 1.9 days), at a far cheaper cost that would be incurred via traditional rental methods.

HIYACAR are now seeking funding to enhance their sales and marketing activities, further develop their keyless technology and to focus on the growth of their B2B partnerships.  With a pre-money valuation of £6.7m and a community that already has 50,000 members, I would say the brakes, in HIYACAR’s developing trajectory, are most definitely off.

This post was created on July 20 2018 by Victoria Maby