Paulin Dementhon, a founder of the Drivy, came up with an amazing idea how to get back the freedom of movement easily and conveniently. In this interview he shares how Drivy came to be a success and the obstacles and challenges he faced along the way.
Hi, Paulin, welcome to the interview. Сould you please tell me about Drivy and where this all began?
Paulin Dementhon: Okay. Let´s start from the beginning. It was 2010, 6 years ago from now. The company was founded in Marseille, and when the business started growing, I decided to come back to Paris, which is full of new opportunities and people; and, for sure, it is bigger than Marseille. During that time I was thinking how to leverage the huge wasted capacity of cars. Even a year before, in 2009, I was already thinking about urban car sharing, which is between Uber and BlaBlaCar, with passengers and drivers. However, I could not figure out how to make it work. Then I suddenly realized that all these cars stayed outside of car sharing, which already existed and we could just provide rental: let people take the car wherever they wanted and that was a solution.
Generally speaking, the basic idea for Drivy is that everyone rents a car with hundreds available near them, yet it doesn’t feel like a rental. It is simpler, easier, without any hassle, paperwork or waiting in car agencies. That’s what we want to provide and when I say “near you,” it’s not just a set of words. The concept of distance is very important here.
Photo Credit: Drivy
Can you explain further about the intricacies of the application?
P.D: Yes. We are available on all kinds of devices. We have native iOS and Android apps and we also have a website. So what you do is the following: you look at the app or at the website, you see the cars available near you, you contact a car owner, you pay online, then you meet the car owner to exchange the keys and check your ID driving license. That’s it. Basically, this is how it works.
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I know that building a business is a very complicated thing. Can you tell us, which challenges you have met during these last 6 years?
P.D: The initial challenge was finding an insurance company. I remember, that I was rejected by 20 insurance companies for the first year. They did not want to work with Drivy, because they thought, that it was too risky and too complex. So until the very last month before the launch, until the end of 2010, I had no insurance company. However, I was really lucky; right before the launch, we were accepted by a good insurance company, with which we could then get going and rollout.
I think luck always means a lot when you build a company…
P.D: Another very difficult challenge, even worse than an absence of the insurance company, was finding the right people. At first, I was alone for a long time, about one and a half years. Considering the fact, that I am not a technical person, not a software engineer, I had no idea how to make an app or website on my own. For people like me, you always need a co-founder or partner, who has technical skills and can help to bring a company together. I could not find such a person for a long time. Of course, you can easily find someone for this role, but you need more time to find somebody who is a perfect fit. It was very challenging for me and it took a lot of time, but finally I met Nikolas, who is now my partner and an amazing software engineer. I can also say, looking back at that time, it was always challenging and extremely difficult to find the right people at the right time.
Speaking about the right people. How do you find them? Which characteristics or criteria do you seek?
P.D: First, we are looking for people who really care about the mission of the company and when we meet them, we need to feel that they understand and care about achievements and they want to come up with solutions to problems and be part of the company and who can make a great impact on the society and the world.
We hire people with a low ego. I know by my experience, that even if you are a smart person, your high ego will be a killer of the team spirit.
We also hire highly analytical people for all positions, including marketing, operations etc., as we are a data-driven company and it is very important for us to have people with extremely sharp reasoning. Therefore we make a lot of case studies to confront the candidates with the real life cases and see how they can manage them. Now there are about 70 employees, which are working in a great atmosphere.
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In the Photo: Drivy Team
That sounds like a good approach. Let’s talk about the future. Where do you think your company will be in 5 years or 10 years?
P.D: The vision is the following: we are planning to go far beyond car rental. We are planning to work on the general mobility market, not only in car rentals and also we will switch from ownership to on-demand. Moreover, we will be one of the main five major platforms which take you anywhere, anytime, with a car available right near you. So we think we will turn into a big company with several thousands of employees, which will have a strong impact on your quality of life.
In the Photo: Paulin Dementhon, founder and CEO of Drivy
Could you, please, explain more about the impact which Drivy can bring to the world?
P.D: Drivy has an impact in terms of freedom. As we know, cars give us the freedom to move, to go long distances, to spend the whole weekend in completely different places to make our days fantastic. However, they can bring nightmares into our life, like traffic jams, pollution, etc. But we will give back the freedom to people without the nightmares. Instead of parking cars everywhere and spending 5 percent of your time looking for it, we are giving people an opportunity to have the right car at the right time, so that time can be used efficiently. And, looking far beyond that, it can even change the faces of the cities. Just imagine, living in the city, without traffic problems, constant car noise, without parking issues, but with full mobility and freedom to move wherever and whenever you want. The cities will be more beautiful and the quality of life will be higher. That’s how we see our contribution!
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com.
Interview with Paulin Dementhon Instagram.com