Irish “Airbnb for cars” car hire app launches €275,000 crowdfunding round

Fleet App, Ireland’s very own “Airbnb for cars”, has launched its first investment round as the peer-to-peer car sharing service seeks to fund expansion and targets international growth.

The company, valued at €1.1 million, is planning to raise €275,000 as part of a crowdfunding campaign on Spark Crowdfunding, allowing ordinary investors and members of the public to purchase shares for the next thirty days.

Launched in June 2017, Fleet (www.jointhefleet.com) enables local owners to hire out their cars, monetising underutilised vehicles amidst a backdrop of change in the motoring industry and rising ownership costs.

On the back of household names in the sharing economy sector like Uber and Airbnb, Fleet App CEO Maurice Sheehy says that his app is re-shaping the concept of car ownership. “We want to take access to transportation back from large companies and put it on your street, your village, your workplace”.

15,000 people have created accounts on the service to date. “We’re seeing a high proportion of repeat customers throughout the platform. Our users are happy, and over 65% make a second transaction,” said Sheehy.

DonoghMacCarthy-Morrogh, a car owner who uses Fleet, adds: “The simple reason for me to use Fleet is that I trust the platform, and I’ve had excellent experiences on it so far. It monetises my car when it’s just sitting there when it’s doing very little, costing me money.”

Fleet is also targeting business-to-business (B2B) uses for its software stack. “We’ve been approached by several large companies interested in licencing our platform,” says Sheehy, “including two who have signed contracts for custom-built apps.”

This includes a major car manufacturer seeking new routes to market as vehicle sales decline. Fleet is also tendering to provide a custom app for Dublin City Council that enables employees to share internal vehicles on-demand.

Fleet has been approved for ‘matched funding’ from Enterprise Ireland, and investors are eligible for the Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme (EIIS), which provides income tax relief of 40% on investments – 30% of which is up front.

“The market is there, the technology is already developed, they are operationalised and they are revenue-generating,” says Douglas Dowley, an advisor to Enterprise Ireland’s HPSU (High Potential Start Up).

The company plans to use funds to scale growth through online marketing, and grow its developer team to scale business-to-business operations.

The campaign is being run on Spark Crowdfunding, Ireland’s first equity crowdfunding platform. Chris Burge, CEO of Spark Crowdfunding said: “The Fleet business model and technology is highly scalable and we know this is the type of business that appeals to investors. Fleet own their own platform and we believe the company is well positioned to benefit from strong end market fundamentals in the growing sharing economy and peer-to-peer marketplace.”

The ‘power of the crowd’ is seen as an increasingly effective way for successful tech startups to access finance. It allows hundreds of small and medium sized investors to purchase shares, similar to how companies raise funds on Dragons’ Den. The concept has proved particularly effective for Irish startups such as HouseMyDog, a peer-to-peer pet boarding service, which raised €540,000 in 2017.

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