The founders of Tamyca are an audacious bunch. While the majority of 22-year-olds were partying or struggling to get their bachelor’s degrees, Justus Lauten, Michael Menis, Andreas Krueger, and Markus Harmsen were busy setting up a company: Tamyca, Germany’s largest peer-to-peer carsharing website. I caught up with Justus (right) to find out more…
Hi Justus, can you tell me about the company and what you’re doing?
We have a website for peer-to-peer car-sharing. That means that if you own a car, you can rent it out to strangers when you’re not using it and make money instead of having it sitting in your driveway. We have insurance that covers everything, in case your car goes missing or there’s an accident or anything like that.
On the other hand, if you want to rent a car you can get them much more cheaply from us than if you go to rental companies. We have 2,700 cars in Germany in total, built up since we launched two years ago.
The car-owners set the price for their cars and say if it’s a price for four hours, a daily price, or a weekly price. Depending on the car the price is very different. You can imagine that a Porsche or a Ford Model A (pictured below) costs a lot more than a VW Golf to rent!
What inspired you to create Tamyca?
Who are the founders and how did you find each other?
You probably don’t want to talk about it but … have any accidents happened yet?
You can imagine that at some point there will be accidents, because that’s the way it works. We’ve had some accidents, but so far everything has been covered by the insurance. We really try to be there for our customers and have good customer support. If you have a bad experience one time then your less likely to give your car away again, so this feedback and customer care is really important for us.
What’s your business model?
We have, on the one hand, cheap cars – cars that are cheaper than Herz, for example. And the other positive is that we are available in small villages and cities in Germany, where there are no car hiring or sharing companies to begin with. But Tamyca is definitely most popular in Berlin.
The car owner gets to set the daily rate to rent their car, and we put a small additional cost on top, called the Tamyca fee, which is €9.90. This is for the insurance, plus a small amount for us. At the moment that’s where we’re getting our profits from.
Whats the market potential for Tamyca?
Car-sharing is a growing market at the moment, you can see all the big players like Daimler and BMW implementing their own models like Drivenow and car2go, so it’s a trending and growing market, which is hard to put into numbers.
But I think that in the future everyone will rent out their cars and share their homes. You can really see that peoples’ mindset is changing. They don’t see owning a car as being a status symbol, they’re starting to see cars as tools that should be used. Like you wouldn’t consider a hammer a status symbol, you just use it. People are happy to give their car away. There are still some barriers, but that is why we have very comprehensive car insurance. We want to make sure everything is really carefree when you sign up to rent out your car, but we make sure to cover all bases with this insurance.
What makes you different from the competition?
We have direct competition in Germany, there are two other sites (Autonetz.de and Nachbarschaftsauto.de) that offer peer-to-peer sharing, but we were the first online and are the largest. Our insurance package is also more comprehensive, we have an anti-theft insurance, which is essential for car owners who want to put their cars on the platform.
Who’s financing you?
Are you missing anything at the moment?
We’re happy with our team and office, but we’re on the search for investors. We’re in discussion with some already, but it never hurts to mention it.
What advice would you give other startups?
At the beginning of our startup we were faced with the question of whether we should outsource the website development and pay someone to build it, and I’m really happy we didn’t do that. Right now we have everything under one roof, our whole team. I think that’s the best way to do it as a startup, because you can iterate much faster if you don’t have to communicate with a third party. It helps connect the different elements – for example, if we think of something for marketing we can immediately include it in the website by telling the IT people to implement it. On the one hand it’s really fun working together, but it also means we can build things a lot faster and try them out and test them together.
Where will Tamyca be in a year?
Hopefully we’ll have a lot more cars and maybe we’ll tackle Europe then. That’s our master plan.
This story originally appeared on VentureVillage. Copyright 2012