Singapore’s, and probably Asia’s, first online direct sell platform for car rental companies Drive.SG has announced that they have closed a S$200,000 seed round with private investor John Tan. John is also an investor in Chope, Impulseflyer, 8 Villages and Payroll Hero.
Drive.SG was started at the end of 2010 and is operated by co-founders Adrian and Paul. The service, built by the duo’s company Anable IT Solutions, provides local car rental companies with a platform to host and rent out their cars. On the car renters’ side, Drive.SG provided for real-time car rental inquiries and bookings, with the ability to search and compare offerings. And unlike other international platforms, the sources of the cars are prominently displayed.
Drive.SG was part of Echelon 2012’s Startup Marketplace and managed to catch the attention of John, among another four to five other investors. According to John, what drew him to Drive.SG was the premium domain that they had. Adrian and his team took about five months after that before managing to woo John to invest in their company.
According to Adrian, the car rental market in Singapore is worth about S$400 to S$600 million annually. With around 135 car rental companies, a lot of them independent boutique companies, these firms do not have the means to build their own IT solutions to rival that of larger companies such as Avis and Hertz (Avis is one of their partners).
To truly understand the pain points faced by the owners of these car rental companies, the co-founders of Drive.SG did several short stints at the local companies. They saw how inventory management was done on a whiteboard, to how each company had different rental policies and payment methods. With that knowledge in mind, they began to build their solution.
When asked about peer-to-peer car rental services, Adrian mentioned that its was actually the starting idea of Drive.SG. But after researching on the legal issues, the team realised that it may take a while before the idea falls fully on the right side of the law. They decided to approach the commercial car rental industry instead.
Drive.Sg currently sees sales of over S$400,000. With 60 percent of visits and 80 percent of paying customers coming from mobile, the team will be using the new funds to develop a mobile app. This will help in their market reach and conversion rates. Drive.SG currently uses a mobile optimised website. The company will also use this funding to expand their team.
Sharing some interesting user statistics from Drive.SG, Adrian said that the peak booking periods on their services are during lunch breaks and at midnight. Providing car renters access to a 24-hour service allows these car rental companies to continue to rent out their cars even after operating hours.
Looking forward, Adrian admits that the small Singaporean market will probably provide them with a run time of two to three years, before they need to consider expanding out of the country. With that in mind, the company is looking towards a rebrand soon, that will be more suitable for its expansion plans. With a mobile app on the drawing board, a rebrand and expansion plans, 2013 is off to a roaring start for the team.
Image Credits: Drive.SG