London based market intelligence firm Euromonitor has pegged the Indian car hire market at about USD 3 billion currently with a growth rate of 14 percent just last year.
Self-drive was the fastest growing segment which prompted the duo of Greg Moran and David Back, graduates from the University of Pennsylvania to start-up. They launched ZoomCar, a membership based self-drive service which allows individuals to hire cars by the hour or by the day. Having gross revenues of Rs 15 lakh in the first year of its launch the duo is keen to take ZoomCar pan India.
Twenty –seven year old Greg Moran is quite literally accelerating the self-drive concept in India with his venture ZoomCar, a membership based local self-drive service. The idea to set up shop in India occurred to Greg and his friend David Back when they travelled around India highlighted the lack of self-drive car rental services. To become a member one needs to create an account on the website and upload one's driving license after which a car can be booked via the web or a mobile app. To ensure secure bookings they accept only advance payments via credit or debit cards. ZoomCar owns and operates a fleet of Rs 19 vehicles and charges Rs 199 an hour and Rs 1,999 for a day for the Ford Figo. It is Rs 249 for the hour and Rs 2,499 per day for a Mahindra Scorpio. Despite having raised general seed investments of over USD 300,000 from New York based Empire Angels and a UK based investor group, starting up in a much regulated sector was not easy.
Greg Moran, co-founder & chief executive officer, ZoomCar says, "Everything is governed by the Transport Minister and a certain regulatory scheme that is actually over 20 years old which essentially states that you have to have 50 vehicles to operate. So, we are actually partnering with a local partner in terms of an operating license that we have been able leverage and so we are able to effectively overcome that hurdle."
Zooming its way through the hurdle ZoomCar today has over 1,500 members and the utilisation rate of 55-65 percent on weekdays and 90-95 percent on weekends. ZoomCar reservation covers the entire trip which includes fuel cost, insurance maintenance, roadside assistance and even taxes.
Having partnered US based vehicle technology partner JustShareIt, the venture claims it has developed a state of the art vehicle reservation, billing entry and security technology not only to boost customer experience but also to ensure that ZoomCar vehicles are monitored and tracked to avoid defaults. While Greg claims that majority of his revenues come from direct reservations he is now looking at his daily data to generate revenues and also in the pipeline are plans to add electric cars to the existing fleet. Having already grossed revenues of Rs 15 lakh Greg presently has only two pick up and drop stops in Bangalore and he is in talks with universities and real estate developers in the city to acquire more sites.
Moran adds, "In the beginning of 2014 that is when we really want to hit the ground running into other markets such as Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and a lot of other tier-1, tier-2 cities."
Greg and David are dribbling their way to success hoping to net further funding which will primarily be used to increase their fleet size and develop their technology platform. The immediate goal is to add over 15 vehicles by the end of this month.