A group of young entrepreneurs from Denmark have relocated to the North East to launch a car rental firm with a community twist.
Jacob Aleksander, David Harboe, Mads Hostrup Mortensen and Erik Hasselbalch pulled together a range of entrepreneurial skills, from market research to coding, to form Rentecarlo with help from Newcastle-based business accelerator, Ignite100.
The concept differs from traditional car clubs in that rather than renting out its own vehicles, it provides an online platform through which private individuals can make their cars available.
Hence, the car owner can make a profit while helping the environment through reducing CO2 emissions.
“Cars are typically sitting idle about 90% of the time, so why not rent them out?” said Aleksander. “There’s the issue of environmental impact, affordability and convenience as well in the sense that you can rent from anybody. Our focus is that we should share resources.
“It’s more flexible than a car club and, for us, it’s more scalable in that, to grow, a car club has to invest in its fleet.”
The concept for the business arose when Mortensen travelled to Barcelona on holiday and ended up renting a car for seven days, despite the fact it would only be used for two.
At the time, he was staying in accommodation provided through Air B&B - an initiative that allows people to rent out their homes for short stays - and recognised that a similarly convenient model could be applied when it came to transport.
Aleksander became interested in the idea and saw potential, given the market for businesses based on sharing appeared to be growing.
Eventually, he and the other members of the team quit their jobs to pursue the idea full-time.
Early research, aided by students from Copenhagen Business School, suggested the group’s idea could be a success, sparking them to explore accelerator programmes throughout Europe, from which Ignite, based at Campus North, Newcastle, emerged the clear winner.
“The reason we applied to them was that they had a good success rate and some of the best mentors available, with knowledge of everything from tourism to industry to the online marketplace,” Aleksander said. “We knew that there was the need - it was just a question of how we matched that need with the service we provided.”
Ignite was prepared to back the business, providing crucial investment, contacts and support.
Since then, polls among drivers at key sites around the North East have generated a positive reaction.
At the moment, Rentecarlo is looking for expressions of interest in the idea before a full launch on September 1.
Under the business model, those interested in renting their car would simply sign up online, set their own restrictions - such as whether to allow smoking or dogs - and state their required prices.
Those looking for cars, meanwhile, can search by geographical area and locate the vehicle they want.
Requests can then be accepted or declined by the car owner and, if agreement is reached, fully comprehensive insurance will be provided.
The business intends to launch solely in Newcastle before rolling out the concept over the UK, then possibly further afield.
“The fact that Ignite have believed in the idea enough to bring this to market is a real vote of confidence,” Aleksander added.
For more details, visit http://rentecarlo.com .