Zoomcar - Indian Self-Drive Car Rental Company!

No more worries about petrol mileage, fuel costs, insurance, and car breakdowns! Self-drive cars from Zoomcar have given customers more control, privacy, and freedom. Book a self drive car in any city you visit with the app on your phone and feel at home wherever you go. Zoomcar has enabled driving convenience for travellers around the country and is fast expanding its reach to cities.

Read this article to know more about Zoomcar, how it works, services, founder, tagline, business model, revenue, growth, challenges, funding, and investors.

Zoomcar - Company Highlights

Startup Name Zoomcar
Headquarter Bengaluru, India
Sector Personal Mobility
Founders Greg Moran & David Back
Founded 2013
Legal Name Zoomcar India Private Ltd
Website zoomcar.com
Contact help@zoomcar.com

About Zoomcar and How it Works
Zoomcar - Target Market Size
How was Zoomcar Started?
Zoomcar - Product/Services
Founders of Zoomcar and team
Zoomcar - Name, Tagline, and Logo
Zoomcar - Business Model and Revenue Model
Zoomcar - Startup Launch
Zoomcar - User Acquisition and Growth
Zoomcar - Startup Challenges
Zoomcar - Growth
Zoomcar - Future Plans
Zoomcar - Funding and Investors
Zoomcar - Recognition and Achievements


Check out this List of Top Startups in Bangalore | Best Bangalore Startups


About Zoomcar and How it Works

Zoomcar holds the distinction of being India’s first personal mobility platform, with the introduction of car sharing services in 2013 and today is the market leader in the personal mobility space with over 10,000 cars in its fleet. With a strong focus on the mobile experience, Zoomcar allows users to rent cars by the hour, day, week, or month.

Headquartered in Bangalore, the company is over 250 people strong and operates in 45+ cities across India. In 2018, Zoomcar introduced India’s first peer2peer based marketplace for cars with the launch of its shared subscription mobility model and currently commands over 90% market share in this space.

"Our vision is to acquaint new-age customers with hassle-free car ownership. At Zoomcar, we have always empowered our customers with better mobility alternatives and will continue doing so at scale. This also positively affects the automobile industry as it eliminates the economic barrier to entry of various socioeconomic groups", says Greg Moran, co-founder of Zoomcar, about the vision of the company.

Zoomcar drives digital technology towards the sector, which has missed the digital influx to a great extent until now. The entry of new players validates the growth of this nascent, fast-growing industry and will expand the self-drive ecosystem in India to eventually benefit more consumers. The startup is committed to transforming mobility with solutions that offer convenience, flexibility & value to customers and continue innovating at scale.

Zoomcar - Target Market Size

The startup currently has 75% of market share and is looking at growing to a market share of 80-85% over the next 18 months with one lakh car. In 2018, Zoomcar introduced India’s first peer-2-peer based marketplace for cars with the launch of its shared subscription mobility model and currently commands over 90% market share in this space. With the growth of the shared economy across the globe, subscription-based car ownership is becoming an increasing trend.

The startup hit a massive 15,000 car subscription run rate through its shared mobility platform recently. In the Electric Vehicles segment, the team has recently announced its fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) completing over 1 crore km. Today, Zoomcar already has over 500 EVs on the road making it the largest electric shared mobility fleet in the country with plans to add another 1000 cars within the next year and 10,000 cars by 2021.


Relevant read: Drivezy - Self-driven Cars at the Most Affordable Prices!


How was Zoomcar Started?

Greg, the co-founder of Zoomcar, has always been passionate about sustainability and shared model for sustainable economic development. While working in the clean technology and infrastructure disciplines for an investment bank, he witnessed first-hand the opportunities that existed in working for environmentally sustainable solutions in India. Further exploration revealed the challenges in urban transportation, namely lack of infrastructure that can cushion the hike in personal vehicles.

Realizing the toll it was taking on India’s environment and a complete lack of self-drive model led Greg to spearhead the launch of Zoomcar. He has always been fascinated with India as a market. As a fast-growing economy, it provides entrepreneurs with amazing opportunities to not only scale up their ventures but also deliver a social impact through unique, and oftentimes tech-enabled, service offerings.

Zoomcar - Never Stop Living
Zoomcar - Never Stop Living
"The opportunities in India, I realized, would only be compounded over the years, and thus, it became imperative for me to be part of India's growth story by introducing sustainable self-drive models that cater to the challenges in mobility at large", says Greg Moran, CEO of Zoomcar.

The business model of Zoomcar not only revolves around sustainability but also caters to the market need for convenient self-drive mobility. There is always a risk whenever a new category is launched. However, Greg believes that he has succeeded in carving a niche for this disruptive offering. He now sees several start-ups and cab aggregators follow his lead and venture into self-drive mobility, which only comes as a validation for what the company had set out to achieve.

Zoomcar - Product/Services

The startup offers a comprehensive suite of car rentals. From hatchbacks to sedans and premium vehicles, it offers users with over 10,000 options to choose from at Zoomcar. These are made more attractive with exciting deals and promotions that the team comes up with on various occasions or long weekend breaks.

Zoomcar has also recently launched India’s first vehicle model agnostic Driver Score Tech Stack for the passenger car segment. The AI-Powered algorithm with machine learning capabilities tracks the mechanical specs of the car being driven, driving style of the customer, and identifies critical events of driving and rates it on a scale of 0-100.

Zoomcar
Zoomcar

Over the past seven years, while Zoomcar has continued to rent out cars on an hourly basis, it has also brought in several changes. Today, one can have a car delivered to their location. It runs on a different business model, and the focus is on customers who want the freedom of having a car any time they require, for a longer duration.

"The only way we have been able to stay ahead of the curve is by keeping our laser-sharp focus on the vehicle rental space and business. Whether it is cars or two-wheelers, we believe that in personal mobility there is a shift from ownership. That will not move towards the taxi industry but more towards self-drive or rentals", says Greg Moran.

Also read: Droom - India's First Online Market Place for Automobiles!


Founders of Zoomcar and team

Zoomcar was founded by Greg Moran and David Back in 2013.

Greg Moran and David Back - Founders of Zoomcar
Greg Moran and David Back - Founders of Zoomcar

David Back and Greg, co-founders of Zoomcar, studied together at the University of Pennsylvania. When Greg was in college, he was studying about India, and even the thought and idea about India being potentially an opportunity probably dawned on him back then.

"Of course, we had no clue about what we wanted to do. It was always from the growth story, from the rapid development and the incredible pace of evolution of the country. It was always super fascinating for me as an American because you know the US has hit a certain threshold, and its growth will not be the kind of growth India will see in the next 20 to 30 years", recalls Greg, CEO of Zoomcar.

Coming out of school, his focus was within finance, but Greg Moran was always obsessed with the environment and sustainable development. He was working in a clean-tech investment bank based in New York, focused globally but around solar, wind energy storage, etc.

David and Greg were thinking about mobility and transportation solutions. They started looking at the market more carefully and realized that car ownership levels were incredibly low at 2 or 3 percent. They saw the notion of car sharing as really a great opportunity because ownership levels were just not going to support. They looked at car sharing as a great entry point with self-drive.

"When we started to look at it more closely in 2011-2012, I spent three months on the ground here roaming around India in 25 cities, 12 states, and realized that it was a total white space. No one was doing anything in the market, everything was offline, all unorganized, all unstructured, no websites, no apps. So, we wanted to bring order to that chaos through a common technology platform and a brand which people could identify across the country", recalls Greg about his first visit to India.

The founders ended up raising a bit of capital in late 2012. Greg dropped out of business school and moved to Bangalore, from there the rest is history. After arriving in India with David, they realized the potential for car rentals. They had, in fact, also dabbled with the idea of starting a company in the renewable energy space, but later decided on the transportation sector.

David and Greg conceptualized Zoomcar as an hourly car rental platform. David Back got married and wanted to be closer to his family so he stepped back from an active role as the company’s president in 2012. But he continues to be on the board of company.

The selection of a name was a fairly organic process. Greg and David were brainstorming names back in 2012 and wanted something that would be distinct and somewhat onomatopoeic to ensure it would be very memorable. Moreover, they wanted to select a name that would be rather a unique sounding from a Hindi perspective and could go well in jingles. A word starting with a ‘Z’ certainly fits the bill on this front and they ultimately landed on Zoom. They only switched to Zoomcar in 2014.

Zoomcar Logo
Zoomcar Logo

The tagline of the startup is Never Stop Living.


Relevant read: 2020 List of Top Rental Startups in India


Zoomcar - Business Model and Revenue Model

Zoomcar operates on short-term rental and a long-term subscription business model. The former operates on an hourly and daily basis with prices starting at Rs 50/hr and ranging up to Rs 250/hr depending on the vehicle type. Long-term subscription starts at Rs 15K per month and runs up to Rs 45K depending on the vehicle type.

On rental bookings, the company typically takes a ~30% take rate. The co-founders did not comment on profit margins except to indicate that the company has been unit economic positive from the beginning of its operations.

Zoomcar - User Acquisition and Growth

The company is the market leader in the self-drive space with over 10,000 cars in the fleet. Zoomcar’s organic growth has been phenomenal. It has seen massive growth in terms of scale towards the second part of 2018 and 2019. The amount of user-generated content it receives is unprecedented. The company is a performance marketing-focused brand and the majority of its marketing team consists of performance marketers. It also has a CRM team that helps in increasing repeat transactions and the frequency of transactions.

The company has always operated in a cost to income ratio, which is 6 percent. When Zoomcar got deployed on roads, the sticker with its brand name itself was the biggest outdoor campaign. It got a huge network growth through word of mouth that has helped in getting organic traffic, which is around 50-55 percent. The startup is also focused on curated content and is associated with new-age content platforms like FilterCopy to create campaigns with a focus on awareness. It is also associated with the TLC channel.

"On an average, we receive more than 60,000 high-quality user-generated content. Our customers pose for photographs with Zoomcars, surprisingly with doors open, because that is where the logos are. This just signifies the brand resonance we have achieved in the last seven years", says Greg Moran.

Many brands spend a huge amount on marketing to attract influencers and get user-generated content, but Zoomcar has grown organically. It is a 'selfie brand'. A testimony of this is the fact if you would do a quick search on Instagram for #Zoomcar, you would see tons of high-quality user-generated content across different formats bur primarily selfies and videos. On average, we see almost 15K to 20K user-generated selfies and videos across organically every month.

This validates the fact that with Zoomcar, users feel empowered, independent, and liberated! The company hardly spend any money on any sort of influencer activity as users become a natural set of micro-influencers for the FTUs (first time users). Its Instagram base grew by 100% organically in last 6 months and currently it stands at a solid base of 146K users and counting.

One of the prime reasons for Instagram being the company's cornerstone of brand strategy is that its core target audience (Age: 21 to 28 ) are Instagram natives and don’t shy away from showing their passion for fashion, food and travel and the startup gets a solid leverage out of this. Moreover, all organic and satisfied customer selfies on Instagram further signifies that they not only had a great in-trip experience while using the service but Zoomcar have actually been able to wow its customers who are proudly referred as 'Zoomers'.


Must read: CarDekho - Displaying Almost Anything and Everything About Automobiles


Zoomcar - Startup Challenges

The personal mobility segment in India is fast growing and the co-founders saw it to be a segment that needed the most disruption, but the journey has most certainly has had its challenges. There is always a learning curve involved when one is introducing a new category. Car rentals were completely unheard-of category when we commenced operations.

"I remember how cumbersome a task it was to comply with regulations for number plates of the fleet, simply because of the unprecedented opportunity. It has been a learning experience to educate and sensitize the authorities and our customers alike, about the perks of car rentals", says Greg Moran about the challenges faced.

To start car rentals, Zoomcar first had to get a license, but it could not get one. This was primarily because the Contract Carriage Permit needed them to have yellow board license plate vehicles. Zoomcar did not have a fleet and it needed to tie up with an owner of a fleet soon. By this time, the company had already raised seed funding and had tied up with several car makers. Greg had put in all his savings also, and it was suddenly a make-or-break situation.

The only way out was to work with an existing player that already had a license. At that point in time, there were five of those (in Bengaluru). Four rejected Zoomcar outright, and it was down to the wire as the founders met with Ramesh Tours and Travels. If that did not work, it meant going back to the US. Greg had one final meeting with Ramesh. They agreed on the terms and worked out a licensing agreement.

"I did not book a return ticket (to India) before the meeting. I went back to the US the next day, but I could come back and that was a relief. It was extremely nerve-wracking and very stressful because it would have been awful to return money to investors before starting a business", recalls Greg about how Zoomcar was saved.

Zoomcar - Funding and Investors

Till now, Zoomcar has raised around $150 Million across funding rounds.

Date Stage Amount Investors
October 2013 Seed Fund $2.6 Million Basset Investment Group, Empire Angels, FundersClub, Blue Cloud Ventures, A. Lloyd Thomas
October 2014 Series A $8 Million Triangle Growth Partners, Abhay Jain, Mohandas Pai
July 2015 Venture Round $11 Million Empire Angels, Sequoia Capital
July 2016 Series B $24 Million Ford Smart Mobility
December 2016 Series B $15 Million Cyber Carrier
February 2018 Series C $40 Million Mahindra Rise
August 2018 Debt Financing $3.6 Million Trifecta Capital Advisors
January 2019 Venture Round - Innoven Capital
July 2019 Venture Round $11.4 Million Trifecta Capital
September 2019 Corporate Round $1.98 Million ZoomCar
December 2019 Corporate Round $4.8 Million ZoomCar
January 2020 Series D $30 Million Sony Innovation Fund

Its investors include Trifecta Capital, InnoVen Capital, Sequoia Capital, Empire Angels, Mahindra and Mahindra, SONY Innovation fund among others.


Relevant read: CARS24 - India's Largest Used Car Marketplace!


Zoomcar - Future Plans

Zoomcar is one of the largest subscription-based car rentals in the country today and considering the current situation, it is looking at exponential growth for businesses since people will prefer personal mobility.

COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of our economy indeed. What used to be the norm till last year may well become obsolete in the coming weeks. Therefore, each industry needs to adapt to the new normal. The car rental industry, to that end, is well-equipped and prepared to serve its customers. We are already seeing a 400% rise in demand and we expect this to settle down at 200-300% over the next few months.

People are now looking for shorter-term mobility access as opposed to long-term investment. We have seen a rise in demand for cars for personal work and emergency use cases. Rentals for intercity travel are up and a lot of people are opting for one-way travel. The notion of owning a car amidst such an intensifying emphasis on social distance may have taken the backseat. Still, the necessity of a mobility service remains as relevant as before. As people would avoid public transport to keep themselves safe from contracting the virus, the need for rental cars will only go up.

The company is looking at various car subscription models to serve the needs of the customers. It also sees more demand for in-city trips compared to outstation ones and a strong focus on shorter-term subscriptions. Its focus will be to diversify on this front and ensure it is covering all cities.

With COVID-19 forcing operations to go entirely digital, Zoomcar is leveraging technology such as AI and IoT to offer an impeccable experience to its customers. It also has a keyless entry which minimizes human contact and curb transmission of the virus. Every car is also thoroughly sanitized before and after each drive. With deep-rooted technology models, Zoomcar has tweaked its mobile app to allow customers to reach out at any time in case of a query through emails, messages, and chatbots.

The platform’s entirely digital payment gateway also makes for a smooth and hassle-free experience. Vehicle monitoring and predictive analysis will help with data like speed, distance, RPM, clutch, brake, and time, which will be used to calculate the driver score, which encourages customers to drive cautiously. Not only does it increase the safety of the customers but will also help maintain the car in a better condition. A close eye will be kept on Engine temperature and coolant level to predict engine seizures before it happens and guide the customers safely to a stop in case of any such situation.

By prioritizing safety, hygiene, and customer experience with technology at the core, Zoomcar is looking to make its cars future-ready and COVID-19 safe. One of the startup's focus areas has been increasing this exponentially by adding more and more vehicle models which will be offered on a subscription basis. The company is also aggressively partnering with the major automotive OEMs to offer a subscription as an alternative to vehicle ownership.

Zoomcar - Advisors and Mentors

Mahindra has been a tremendous partner. Electric mobility was something they always wanted to push out and continue to develop over the next decades. This is a long game they are playing, and in that way their long-term interests are very much aligned with Zoomcar.

"I think if you look at them they have certainly been visionaries in mobility in India and Anand Mahindra, hat's off to him, especially because he was able to see out into the future way back when they started to partner more deeply with REVA, which they acquired way back in 2010. Mahindra was always a cornerstone", says Greg about Mahindra.

Zoomcar - Recognition and Achievements

The company has received several different awards including Top Place to Work, Top Brand Marketing Campaign, among others. Each year, it receives several marketing related awards - CIDCA Award for excellence in Digital Advertising and Marketing, ACEF, Best ATL Campaign for a Cause award at the mCube 2019 etc.

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About Rishabh Rathi

Per-Final Year Computer Science Undergrad and a freelancer. Connect with me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/rishabhrathi22/
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