Monday, January 16, 2012

BlablaCar - Travel Revolution

Some countries in Europe may have lost their AAA ratings, but they have not lost their appetite to innovate and create new online services. Blablacar is one such example of innovation: with a fast growing community of 1.6m members in France (, the UK ( and Spain (, this company is changing the way people travel on the old continent, becoming a very compelling alternative to trains and planes.

The website connects drivers and passengers who are willing to share a journey in their car. While the site addresses all kind of trips, from short commuting to long distance, most of the activity is around trips of 150+ miles. The passengers compensate the driver for the gas and toll costs, making it a fair trade. For example, a trip from Paris to Lyon (290 miles) would cost €25-30 compared to €100+ for the train. On top of being cheaper (cost is of course an important driver), people are also using the service because it is more social (a lot of people don't like to drive alone), more granular (with the scale, you can find a driver closer than the nearest train station!), and of course more environmentally friendly.

Blablacar is to cars what Airbnb is to houses: a way for people to monetise their unused assets on one hand and to consume differently on the other hand. This trend, described by Rachel Botsman in her book "The Rise of Collaborative Consumption" is growing as people becomes more and more inclined to use things rather than to own things. This explains the success of companies like Netflix or Zipcar, but like Airbnb, Blablacar is pushing the concept further with the assets being owned by the consumer instead of the company.

It is interesting to note that this model has been invented in Europe (Blablacar started in 2006) and while there have been some similar and more recent initiatives in the US (e.g., Zimride, Ridejoy), they have not yet seen the explosive growth that the service has observed in Europe with more than 1 Billion miles shared by the community and more than 8m passengers transported!

As Techcrunch announced earlier today, Accel led a $10m round in the company to help them develop their service across all Europe. We are happy to jump on board this rocket ship and help the company change the lives of millions more people!