Co-founder & CEO of BlablaCar
Nicolas Brusson, CEO of BlablaCar talks about mobility efficiency and the journey of the company getting into the carpooling industry.
A few words from...
Nicolas Brusson, CEO of Blablacar.
BlaBlaCar started as a carpooling platform and now has a valuation of over $1 billion.
What was the initial idea?
The vast majority of empty seats traveling around the country, traveling around the cities is in cars.
And back then, so back in 2006-2007, we thought that there would be a potential to unlock this massive inventory.
Ok, but how?
Number one, through technology, because it was the beginning of the smartphones, which obviously today are widespread and everybody has one. But back in 2006, pre-Iphone, it was not obvious.
The second thing that fundamentally unlocked this huge market was more behavioral. If we can create that trust layer between users, we would overtime unlock essentially that behavior of sharing, enabling drivers and passengers to share their car.
Back to... your growth history
BlaBlaCar is a community of almost 100 million members across 22 countries.
The beginning of BlaBlaCar was in truth very slow. So we had like very hard time to convince early users, and even a harder time to convince investors.
We went through 3 different phases.
The, from that first phase of you demonstrating, unlocking the product, having the first users, which was very much about shaping the behavior, about creating the product.
Next, the second phase from 2012 to 2016-2017, where we had cracked that usage in France and we could see actually users loving the product, using the product more and more.
While we realized, back in 2011-2012, no one was doing that at any scale and any other country. So that’s when we decided to go fundraise.
On the other side, we raised back $10 million from Accel Partners and then in 2014, $200 million after that to go global.
Lastly, we engaged into a third phase, which started around 2017. Where we realised that BlaBlaCar had become fairly mainstream, at least pretty widespread in several countries. And we became really good at gathering lots of travel intent from people, and we could offer more than carpooling which the initial promise.
The car remains and will remain for long time the universal connector. The car is the only mean of transport, at list on mid-long distance, that can really go from any point to any point. Trains, buses, planes are constrained by bus station, train station or airports. That is the only point you can connect on the map.
Car can connect anything. Anywhere to anywhere. If you think to an integrated network where you can combine trains, buses and carpooling, you can suddenly open up a much larger potential of connexions within a region or a country, and that’s is what we are building.
How do we we make transport more efficient economically?
Because it makes no sense to leave empty seats in cars or buses or trains. But also, from an environmental stand point, obviously having cars driving 70% empty makes no sense whatsoever.
“Voi and BlaBlaCar have a common enemy: inefficient car usage and CO2 emissions. By joining forces we can go one step further in making mobility smarter and more efficient in cities.“
We actually launched two new products.
So we launched BlaBlaRide, which is e-scooter inside the city, it’s our way to get into micro-mobility.
Another project we launched and product we launched during the crisis in the middle of april during the lockdown is a product called BlaBlaHelp. A product to help people do their grocery during that crisis. It was one of the big problem actually during the crisis was for older people, people with conditions. It was pretty risky, pretty scary for them to do their groceries. So we leveraged the community, connecting people on a local basis, enabling them to match in a way and help each other do they groceries leveraging the trust we’ve built.
So that’s essentially the person you contact and you trust to do your groceries, take your money and bring back some goods is a BlaBlaCar member, and you have all the information about that member to be able to trust that member to help you do the groceries.
Mobility Makers Team