“Surround yourself with people who have some strengths where you have weaknesses. They will help you achieve your goals.” – Country Manager at Drivy, Nils Roßmeisl
Drivy Country Manager, Nils Roßmeisl, sat down with Silicon Allee to explain how Drivy shines through the competitive, car-sharing market. From its beginnings as a helpful idea in France to its execution as a European car-sharing model, Nils Roßmeisel holds Drivy up as a model of how to be successful in the world of startups.
Okay Nils, drive us through the elevator pitch for your company.
Drivy is Europe’s leading carsharing marketplace. So our platform allows people who own a car to rent their car out to other private people who need a car, and may not own a car.
In what year was Drivy founded?
Originally, it was founded in 2010 by our CEO, Paulin Dementhon out of Paris. I think they founded it in Marseilles that year but then moved it to Paris. He was living in Marseilles at that time and he saw that there were so many cars parked. In Europe, 93% of the time cars are just standing around being unused and he realized it’s a problem, not only in Marseilles but especially in Paris where the problem is much, much bigger. The city is so dense – over twelve million people living in and around the city – and it’s full of vehicles. So, he came up with the idea with Nicolas Mondollot – the CTO of our company – and founded Drivy! We’ve been running for seven years now. It started out with two people, and now we have more than 100 people globally. There was also a freelance developer at the time.
That’s great to hear! What inspired them to start the company?
Back then, Paulin and Nicolas were inspired by the unused assets. Also, it was about giving something back to the community, because making use of an unused asset while increasing the occupancy rates of unused vehicles helps get them out of the city. This gives the space back to the city for more parking, there’s less traffic involved, and it’s also about paving the way to more sustainable engines and better cars.
Mobility is huge in Berlin; tell us a bit about your competition and why you are better?
We have competition with car sharing industries so there are indirect and direct competitors. We have a couple of copycats. There’s the American market leader Turo that’s backed by Daimler, and also the Dutch Snappcar who acquired Tamyca. There are similar American players on the market, and intercity car sharing companies like DriveNow, Car2Go, and so on. I think we are better, especially in Europe as we’re the leader, because we have the best products. It’s very smooth; it’s very convenient. Today, we use our technology called Drivy Open that enables the opening of the car via your smartphone. You don’t have to meet the owner in person for the hand over anymore instead you can access the car with your phone, the keys are inside and you’re ready to go. You can digitally sign the contract, you can take photos to document the state of the car and any damages. It’s very quick, it’s very easy and our long experience has given us so much knowledge concerning insurances, how to deal with cars in general in terms of supplying, in taxes and regulations, and so on.
You’ve been in the scene for quite some time. What advice would you have for entrepreneurs just starting out in Berlin?
I don’t believe it’s boundby location, but I think to have the right set of people starting the company. I myself am not a guy that has great ideas per se, but there are many people who have great business ideas and ideas in general, and execution is a different thing. Surround yourself with people who have some strengths where you have weaknesses. They will help you achieve your goals. I think this is one of the most important things because Paulin knew he wasn’t a tech guy or even a complete business guy, but back then he was still young, and he learned from Nicolas who was a full stack developer. He knew what he was doing and they complimented each other. That’s one of the biggest things you have to look out for. Secondly, don’t get distracted too much by the party life in Berlin. It’s all about a balance.
That’s some solid advice! So where do you go to hang out to escape from the crazy startup life in Berlin?
I live in Friedrichshain, but here in Mitte I would say Monbijou Park. I play a lot of ball myself, I like to shoot hoops now and then and it’s also nice to be near the river. There’s a couple of nice bars and restaurants as well especially when the sun is out.
There are tons of places where I live as well. I love the area around Rummelsburg. It’s very nice and you’ve got the open water. It’s a great place to go for a jog and to be outside. In inner Friedrichshain, I really love Boxhagener Platz. There’s tons of bars and cool restaurants in this area.
Berlin is growing exponentially. Where do you see the city 5 years from now? 10 years?
Being more crowded. Less open space, but on the positive side; it’s good. It’s getting more and more international. There’s a lot of traction, especially in the digital world. We see funding coming to the city. Hopefully, we’ll have a new airport by then; maybe two if we’re lucky. But, I think it’s getting better and better. One thing that is exciting and interesting is the balance of gentrification while also maintaining the creative city that Berlin has been in the past 10 years. I hope we don’t lose that aspect. I hope Berlin doesn’t lose its identity.
What groups and individuals have been the most influential to you during your time as an entrepreneur in Berlin?
There are so many awesome people here building businesses, so it’s difficult to pinpoint. I do like the guys from the Coup app. I’ve been following the business for quite some time. I think they do a tremendous job, in how they build their team, how they build their products, and how they operate globally. They work in places like Brazil and Argentina where they have massive growth. 35% of their staff is female including developers. I think they are doing a wonderful job balancing out personal and business lives. They are a very good example of how to build a business.
Other than that, I have always been working with a couple of mentors, but they are from companies founded somewhere else so it’s hard to tell. They are still influential, though. The former CEO at Shopkick, where I used to work, is from Frankfurt and built his business in Silicon Valley and then expanded to Germany. So, he’s also been very influential for me.
Awesome, so can you name one particular moment that has been pivotal during your time in the business?
No, not really. There’s not one big defining moment. I’m a guy that’s constantly pivoting so it’s hard to define one moment.
Has Berlin’s informal nature and unique history been a positive aspect of your time in the city?
Yeah, absolutely. I moved here almost 12 years ago out of a city about two to three hours away from Berlin. I’m still in the former Eastern part of Germany and I think the history of the city defines the identity of Berlin and the mindset of the people that live here. There’s proof that it’s the city of freedom, it’s very liberal, it’s very open, and it’s very welcoming. That defines the whole setting. It opens the whole ecosystem for new companies and concepts, especially in the creative industry.
And finally, here’s our traditional bonus question, Coffee, Tea, or Club Mate?
That’s very hard. I would still go for a very good latte over any Mate or Tea.