As the sharing economy in the Netherlands matures, startup-initiatives are increasingly becoming commercially driven. Not necessarily a bad thing: they need to make their promises to their investors. Hence, SnappCar, the infamous car sharing platform, banks a mountainous €10M funding round with French car rental behemoth Europcar and existing investors. Barqo, on a smaller scale, closed a successful 400.000 euro-plus crowdfunding campaign, to invest in boat rentals for vacations.
Over the course of the years, and even quite recently, sharing economy has been heavily criticized. Mainly because it has shifted from a seemingly collaborative way to share goods and services, to an *actual* business category. That, in the eyes of pundits, wasn’t the way it was intended.
Need to make money
But of course, these sharing startups need to make money – and perhaps grow the f*ck up. Focusing solely on sharing (cars, flats, boats, tools) is not enough. Peerby, one of the sexiest initiatives in the Netherlands, pivoted to become a rental platform, too.
Now, it seems two of the other well-known Dutch sharing startups are moving into more commercial pastures as well. The most prominent one, SnappCar, in its own words “the second largest peer2peer car sharing platform in Europe”, banked a staggering €10M round. From: Europcar. Yes, you read that correctly. One of the incumbents, I would like to point out.
Stake in SnappCar
With the investment, Europcar joins existing shareholders AutoBinck Group and the Danish Startup Studio Founders who have also committed capital in this round. The total amount of the investment round is €10M for a 20 percent stake, basically valuing the company at €50M.
“Enlarge customer base”
This passage from the press release is particularly interesting: “For Europcar Group, this minority investment is an opportunity to develop its mobility offer and enlarge its customer base. The Group believes peer2peer solution has a role to play in cities where it can complement the implementation of a car sharing scheme and in areas in which a car sharing solution is today not still economically sustainable.”
Threat to car rental
In other words, they see car sharing as a large threat to its car rental offering in urban areas. To continue: “Peer-to-peer car sharing platforms have a strong need for car availability, and with an average fleet of around 214.000 vehicles in 2016, Europcar can play a significant role.”
Suitable shared car
What they really say is: when someone doesn’t find the suitable shared car, there’s enough rental inventory to target customer with. Just like Peerby did with renting out tools and equipment, SnappCar is moving into a more commercial – and maybe less collaborative – platform. It’s becoming a real business, essentially.
We reported about Barqo, once dubbed the “Airbnb for boats”, quite early on. The same evolution as with SnappCar can be seen on their end. Since the beginning of the year, they’ve stepped away from solely sharing boats, peer2peer. Dutch customers can now also book boat vacations, mostly around the Mediterranean, with commercial rental companies.
The Amsterdam-based startup boasts that this has been going really smoothly. Already halfway in the year, they’ve banked the same amount of revenue as in 2016, totally. Yesterday, they closed a crowdfunding campaign worth €434.552, well above target, to fuel their commercial efforts during the summer months.
“We have high hopes that with this €434.552 investment, we’ll hit breakeven in 2018”, co-founder Floris van Hoogenhuyze claimed. “It indicates we’ll hit the magical threshold of 1 million euro in revenue, a tenfold to our income last year.”
Finally growing up
With these recent funding rounds and major shifts in business models in mind, it’s safe to say Dutch sharing economy startups are finally growing up.
Europcar image by Shutterstock