Founded in 2014 in Germany, Wunder is the world’s leading urban carpooling platform. Wunder’s mobile app allows commuters to easily book the empty seat in a neighbour’s car for their way to work or back home.
Wunder Carpool is an open platform seamlessly connecting people with empty seats in their cars to others heading in the same direction. For billions of people in emerging markets, carpooling is the most convenient form of transport that can be used every day. They believe that in the future sharing a ride in the city will be just as common as it is today to take the bus.
What made you choose this area for your startup, and how did it all begin?
I co-founded and bootstrapped a company that was acquired by Airbnb in 2011. Then I opened Airbnb’s first office outside of the US and launched their internationalisation efforts. During that time I served in different leadership roles at Airbnb during its hypergrowth phase from 30 to 1,000 employees and spent also a lot of time in the US. There I got in contact with Lyft and Uber and decided to launch a similar service in Germany.
After leaving Airbnb, I founded WunderCar and launched the service in Hamburg and Berlin (Germany). We are also launched the service in three Eastern European cities. But due to regulatory issues we decided to do a pivot and made some changes in our business model. So we decided to develop a P2P urban carpooling platform to build a new form of public transportation for the world´s most gridlocked cities and so we launched our first new city in 2016 (Manila, Philippines). That was the starting point of our current success story.
What is the scale you are operating now and did you think you could reach this stage when you started off?
We are currently live in 5 cities (2 cities in the Philippines, 3 cities in India) and realised more than 2 million trips by end of 2017. Moreover, we started last year our B2B activities and support corporates to develop, launch and operate new mobility services in the area of carpooling and smart shuttle services. We are very optimistic that the foundations for dynamic further growth have been laid.
Were you skeptical of the venture considering when you guys started it especially considering your competition will be with biggies in the ride sharing space?
Of course, there is a lot of competition all over the world. But due to our clear value proposition, we are able to serve a niche where we do not need to shy away from international comparison when it comes to our know-how and expertise.
How important is technology for Wunder and your focus on the same?
We define ourselves as tech company, and most of our team members are working in our tech teams. Technology and our operational expertise are the key to success.
Any interesting story or incident during the course of the journey you would want to share?
As mentioned we started with a ride-sharing service in Germany. We got a lot of public visibility and especially the taxi driver were not really amused. So, there were a couple demonstrations in front of our office. That was a new experience for us.
Expansion plans? Any new areas you want to get into?
We plan to grow in our existing markets and of course we will launch new cities in the upcoming month. Moreover, we will get into a couple of partnership deals with different mobility provider all over the world.
Your thoughts for entrepreneurs around on how they should go about their start up dream?
You have to have staying power, be ready to suffer and being a detail-oriented executor.
Pavan works for a Bosch intraprenueral venture HQ in Bangalore leading one of their product vertical and writes for his Venture Upbeat column in e27. “Leader’s Talk” Series is a special series in the column where Industry and academic stalwarts share their journey.
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