Irish entrepreneur Maurice Sheehy came up with the concept of an Airbnb-style platform for car rental after a terrible experience on holiday.
It was peak season in the Canaries and having endured a two-hour wait at the airport car rental desk in the heat, he found the property rental process through Airbnb to be seamless.
“Everything was so easy.
I think it took around 10 minutes and then we were done,” he said.
Later Mr Sheehy realised that his Airbnb hostess had a car parked outside the accommodation for the week and he thought how simple it would have been to rent that vehicle along with the property.
He started doing some research into peer-to-peer platforms and came across Turo in the US and Drivy in France.
“I saw the growth they were having and thought there’s nothing like this in Ireland, and very little competition in the UK. There’s huge growth and potential in the sharing economy as a whole,” he said.
Mr Sheehy, who founded Pure Fitness gyms in Co Wicklow, took a leap of faith in Fleet, selling his house to raise €250,000 to set up the platform, rather than look for outside investors and give away large percentages of the company at the early stages. He also secured additional private funding and is working on a funding round with KPMG.
Co Wicklow-based app development company Showoff developed the prototype and is now Fleet tech partners. Securing an insurance deal with AXA was a lengthy process and “a steep learning curve” for Mr Sheehy.
He says AXA had faith in the technology and in the product from the start.
“You see on a yearly basis that car sales fluctuate, so it’s an industry that is primed for change. If you look at garages will they be necessary in 15 or 20 years or will you just order your car online like you do with a Tesla?” he said.
Fleet gives car owners the opportunity to earn money on the days their car is not in use, which can have knock-on benefits for the environment, he says.
“There’s a huge stockpile of unused cars that could be utilised more efficiently, and in turn when we do start sharing vehicles more it will have a positive effect on the environment and on traffic congestion in urban areas,” he says. B&B owners or hotels could offer car rental as a service when renting out a room. Garages can add revenue streams to their business model by renting out their stock.
“If they have a slow month and they have a few vehicles they can rent out to tourists or locals who need a vehicle,” Mr Sheehy said.
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