Uber currently has 30,000 active drivers in the UK, a number that is growing by around 1,000 every month.
Traditionally, a major barrier for Uber drivers has been high vehicle rental costs, which is why Google Ventures contacted serial fintech entrepreneur Jonathan Samuels on behalf of Uber, its largest shareholding.
With a track record starting, building and successfully exiting Samuel’s first alternative finance platform business, Dragonfly, Google Ventures sought his expertise to address a rising churn rate among its UK drivers by making vehicle financing affordable.
It was in response to this challenge that Jonathan created Upfront: a driver-centric, flexible and secured car finance product for hybrid vehicles, using Uber earnings data to form a lending decision.
After proving the concept, deploying a small number of vehicles, and building a healthy pipeline of drivers seeking to use the product, Upfront approached UK Bond Network to source a strategic finance solution which could help grow the business more quickly. UK Bond Network created a £3.5m financing structure, which Upfront is able to draw down in £500,000 tranches as its business grows.
“UK Bond Network provided a novel finance solution at an important time for our business. With a driver pipeline greater than cars available, the funding will help us to deploy more vehicles and scale more quickly; UK Bond Network offered what we wanted, with the added benefit of certainty of funding,” Samuels said.
Proceeds of the first £500,000 of UK Bond Network funding have already been used to acquire and deploy new Toyota Prius cars for drivers who are licensed by the Public Carriage Office, and who wish to use the Uber platform.
According to UK Bond Network CEO and founder Chris Maule, Upfront Car Finance is the sort of innovative business the network is increasingly interested in helping – “a highly innovative, high potential SME in a growth sector, led by able and well qualified people such as Jonathan and his team.”
“We’re delighted to be assisting Upfront in achieving its growth goals, whilst providing investors with some much needed yield in the current meagre interest rate environment.”