It’s not often that you hear of the successful launch of an American start-up whose headquarters are not based in San Francisco but on our very own K’road in Auckland. That’s the story of Transfercar, a Kiwi tech company that specialises in free rental cars. If you’re thinking “Free rental cars - how can this be possible?’’ you’re not alone.
Rental car companies need to position their fleet for new hires and have to spend large amounts of money on relocating cars using truck or rail haulage. Pascal Languillon, Transfercar’s Chief Marketing Officer, says the founders of Transfercar thought that there had to be a better way to solve this problem:
“We’ve created a website that connects rental car companies needing to transfer their cars with travellers eager to drive them in exchange for a free trip,” he says. “This model provides a win-win solution where travellers get a free one-way car or campervan hire while rental companies save big money on relocation costs.’’ How does Transfercar make money? It gets a small fee from rental operators for each successful transfer.
The concept for Transfercar was hatched in 2007 by Espen Grimstad, at that time a student at Auckland University Business School, and his lecturer Brian Karlson. Since then, the business has created a new market in NZ, successfully contended against a handful of competitors in Australia and recently gained ‘first mover’ advantage in the US market.
Earlier this year, Transfercar raised $450,000 private investment from US entrepreneur Dennis Round to fund their expansion into the US market. Since its launch in August, the concept is winning fans in America with Transfercar having recently been featured in popular websites Lifehacker.com and Springwise.com and gaining ground with domestic US roadtrippers.
The company is planning to consolidate the US market and then look at other opportunities globally.