D’Ieteren steps into CarASAP, ‘Uber for companies’
Lab Box, the start-up vehicle of the listed car group D’Ieteren, buys 80% of the Brussels chauffeur service CarASAP, ‘a B2B Uber’, which allows customers to book limousines with a private driver. Unlike Uber, CarASAP only targets companies.
The start-up claims to have 250 companies as customers, such as Solvay, and has a network of 300 independent drivers. CarASAP is only active in Brussels for the time being, but is planning to expand into Flanders now that the new, more flexible taxi legislation is in force.
Jonathan Guzy, who holds 20% of the shares, founded CarASAP in 2015. D’Ieteren wants the company, which has six or seven permanent employees, to break even this year. According to the most recent annual report (2016-2017), the company is at 315.000 euro in losses carried forward.
One of the strengths of CarASAP, is that it is fully automated while maintaining human contact. Its chauffeur-driven car services – from replacing the bosses’ classic driver to carry out taxi rides, all with a certain standing – can be commanded via an app, but also via classic computers and a call centre. Typically the kind of services that the major international players, like Uber, do not offer.
From the type of vehicles to personal preferences, “everything is entirely tailor-made and configurable for companies”, explains Jonathan Guzy, who also tries to advise his clients on mobility. “If, for example, we see that several French employees of a company go to the station on Friday evenings, we set up an intelligent shuttle service”, he says.
At this level, while guaranteeing quality, CarASAP does not beat prices. To go from Avenue Louise to the airport is 38 euro, from Beauvechain in Walloon Brabant to Zaventem will be between 77 and 82 euro, “and the price is set in advance, we are the ones who bear the risk related to traffic.”
Capital of 9 million
“Lab Box thought it was an extra piece in the mobility puzzle. A company that has been well managed since the beginning and that can be developed”, says Michaël Grandfils, CEO of Lab Box.
The acquisition amount was not communicated, but Lab Box has recently increased its capital by 6,6 million euro for the development of all its new mobility activities. Its capital now exceeds 9 million and as it grows, Lab Box becomes more than anecdotal within D’Ieteren Auto, in Belgium, the importer of the Volkswagen brands.
Thanks to CarASAP’s B2B customer book provide, Lab Box believes it will quickly be able to “double or even triple” the volume of CarASAP’s activity, which already carries out thousands of rides per month.
Lab Box also owns the car sharing system, Poppy, the online leasing platform for second-hand cars Lizy and the mobility app PikAway. The Brussels car sharing service Zipcar, which had to be shut down, will soon be added to this – in May Zipcars’ activities will be merged with Poppy’s.
The purchase thus fits perfectly within D’Ieteren’s strategy to play a significant role in tomorrow’s mobility.