The Parisian ride-sharing landscape has been stirred up after Uber’s announcement of UberPop’s launch last Tuesday. This of course can’t be indulged by everybody and some reacted promptly. But before getting to that, what exactly is the Parisian ride-sharing landscape?
There are basically 2 young Lyft- like startups operating in Paris. The first one is Djump, a ride-sharing service launched in Belgium in June 2013 after 2 months of beta. They are present in Paris since September 2013, currently in beta and counting on a 6000+ community and about 100 drivers both in Brussels and Paris, and the numbers are growing. They are also literally a copycat of Lyft, using pink hats on their driver’s cars. As business model, Djump are taking a 20% fee of every donation. However, as Tanguy Goretti, CTO, explained, the donations are free. Everybody gives what and if they feel fit, it already happened that riders don’t give anything. Djump’s team have raised €500,000 for their first car-sharing service named Djengo and using some of that money to develop Djump.
The 2nd startup I’m referring to is Heetch, a self-declared Parisian hitchhiking 2.0 service. The bootstrapped service exists since september 2013 and is currently in beta. Heetch was born from the founders’ recurrent need to find a taxi/car to take them home at 5AM Sunday morning after a partying night. As founders Teddy Pellerin and Mathieu Jacob reported, their primary goal is to help people go out more often.
Both Djump and Heetch operate only from Thursday 9 PM to Sunday 5 AM, which is precisely the time slot where the demand of transportation is at its highest. Each service is thus focusing on creating a community of young, urban, connected, partying people, in other words, their target users. As Teddy Pellerin explained, taxis would often refuse to take in somebody who’s in a state of inebriation, and the VTCs are often too expensive for these young folks. Moreover, the people at Heetch feel they are doing the taxi drivers a service as the unionized taxi drivers don’t always see in a favorable light working during the late night hours.
The first one to promptly react at Uber’s announcement was Djump, who “accidentally” bought uberpop.net domain name and created a landing page which advertised Djump of course. A lot of people thought this was a smart maneuver, others criticized it. They also put up a promotion code “welcomeuberpop” and gave away a €25 fee for every new user. In a blog post, they compare the 3 existing services:
Heetch didn’t really react to Uber. Contacted by telephone, the founders said not having a problem with Uber’s launch, as they don’t feel they target the same market share. They insisted on the fact that they only operate during the evenings and nights, and that they don’t impose a fixed amount of donation.
The ride-sharing landscape can however support multiple complementary players. Last October, the government announced 1000 more taxi licenses to be created in addition to the 17500 existing as a way to overcome the huge demand during Friday and Saturday nights, which is precisely the market niche Djump and Heetch are aiming at. Although UberPop is a ride-sharing service, it still is another service from a company that’s perceived as high-end by its users. UberX as a low-cost is only proof of that. Across the Rhine, in Germany, WunderCar – another ride-sharing service – is preparing to take over Western Europe. With 550,000$ seed fund raised last November and a team of former AirBnb, Yahoo and Foursquare professionals, they potentially represent a serious threat. Watch out Uber, you’re not the only one wanting a piece of that cake!