If you haven’t heard of BlaBlaCar, it’s probably time to take note.
While Europe’s tech scene has been heating up and the UK has been getting much of the attention, this French startup raised a huge $100m investment and has been rapidly expanding across the continent.
BlaBlaCar connects drivers who have empty seats with people going in the same direction. The passengers then pay their share of the petrol costs.
I caught up with cofounder Nicolas Brusson at the Dublin Web Summit to figure out what’s next for the startup.
It’s been a big year for BlaBlaCar. What are the most recent developments for the company?
The story of BlaBlaCar over the past 3 years has been about turning it from a French company into a European one.
I guess now that has shifted and the discussion is more about turning it into a global company.
We recently rolled out in Russia and have been seeing incredible uptake. We’ve realised that the company isn’t just about Europe.
You raised $100m. How much pressure does that bring to you and the company?
It does in a few different ways. For the founders, there’s no longer a question about what we’re building – it has to be a global company.
It also brings some pressure in terms of visibility. A lot of people now know you.
We are finding more and more competition in a number of markets. It means you really do have to move quickly.
In some of the markets we look at acquisition if the terms and situation are right, in some we don’t.
You currently have only monetised two of your markets. What type of hit do you take when you change the pricing?
There’s actually no change. It’s really interesting that actually we see no hit in growth.
For the customers, it shouldn’t really change much. You simply pay online and even with the cut we take it doesn’t really change the price.
Compared to the alternative methods of travel, it’s still a big saving.
In a year’s time, back at Web Summit 2015, what do you hope to have achieved?
I hope we will have moved into a bunch of new markets.
South America is a big focus for us. Brazil is a huge market and we need to find the right point of entry.
We’re also looking at India very actively.
There’s talk of you being one of the next European companies to IPO. What are your plans?
We don’t really think about it. Right now, for us it’s all about growth and building a global company.
TCN in Dublin
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Keep an eye out for all our coverage.