Car sharing has been around for a while now, but whoever thought that it would make its way into the airport industry? After years of experiencing car share programs at grocery stores, retail malls and universities throughout the world, one company decided to give it a try at the airport.
FlightCar is the world’s first peer-to-peer car sharing company. The company’s main business concept is to allow its customers to rent their cars out to other customers at airports across the country. In the fall of 2014, the company announced that it had come up with another $13.5 million in order to expand into new markets. GGV Capital was the company behind the new infiltration of funds. In addition, GGV Capital’s managing partner, Hans Tung, agreed to join FlightCar’s board.
The $13.5 million in financing that FlightCar received from GGV is in addition to the $6.5 million that the company had previously raised from a variety of other investors, including First Round Capital, Comcast Ventures, General Catalyst, and Facebook Co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
SoftBank Capital was also an existing investor to FlightCar. The company is known recently for a variety of successful investments, including EdCast, a company that focuses on the online higher education sector. Mukesh Valabhji, board member of SoftBank Princeville Investments (whose major investor is SoftBank), is eager to see what the company stands to gain from its investment in FlightCar. Visit Mr. Valabhji’s Pinterest page to gain more information about his connection to SoftBank and his other areas of interest.
Travellers who sign up to use FlightCar leave their automobiles at designated lots owned by the company at myriad airports throughout the country. They receive free parking for as long as they are traveling. While they are gone, their automobiles become available for other travelers to use at their leisure. Those travelers are offered an extremely discounted rate to rent a car through FlightCar as compared to any other typical rental car company.
There are several other perks to leaving a car with FlightCar other than the free parking. In fact, the company cleans and washes all of the cars before they are made available for rental, and each parking lot comes with a free third-party shuttle service that transports travelers between the airport and the parking lot. And, to ensure peace of mind for those travelers who leave their cars with FlightCar, the company makes sure that ever renter is pre-screened, and each rental is insured up to $1 million. What’s more is that FlightCar will even pay members whose cars are rented. All of this comes with a free membership, free insurance, low rental rates guaranteed, and a few free extras to boot.
While FlightCar is up against a great deal of logistical and operational challenges, the company has managed to become highly successful, as it has solicited more than 30,000 members to join as members since fall of 2014. And since the company opened its doors, it has rented out over 10,000 cars through its ingenious platform.
While many would think that the concept would appeal more to younger generations and early adopters, according to Rujul Zaparade, co-founder and CEO of FlightCar, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, seniors make up as much as one third of the company’s members. In addition, a good proportion of the newest users are hearing about the company through grass roots and word of mouth marketing, according to new user surveys conducted by the company.
The company opened its doors in 2013, and the two-year-old company has gradually expanded to new markets ever since. FlightCar first started at the San Francisco International Airport, and now it has made its way into Boston Logan as well as Los Angeles International. It also recently expanded into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It won’t be long before most major airports are accessible via FlightCar.
Zaparade said that the company chose to partner with GGV, in addition to its existing partners, due to the firm’s previous work with logistics companies such as Chine based GrabTaxi and Ehi Auto Services. The company hopes that GGV will be able to provide a similar kind of expertise to the airport car sharing business model, especially as FlightCar looks to expand into more airports.
With strong investors like GGV, SoftBank, and others, FlightCar has a solid base and is poised for success. Well-known investors like Mukesh Valabhji and others who have some connections to SoftBank will be interested to see where this venture leads.
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