HiyaCar: How to disrupt the car-sharing industry with tech

The Airbnb for cars, Graeme Risby (CEO) and Rob Larmour (COO) set up HiyaCar to make car sharing easier for customers.

Trendsetting is a difficult goal for businesses to achieve as they look to engage their customers. The most chic and sought after service for customers today is sharing. From sharing your accommodation on Airbnb to driveway space and social media, sharing aspects of our lives is now a social norm. Disrupting the automotive industry, Graeme Risby and Rob Larmour set up HiyaCar at the beginning of 2016 to allow customers to use other peoples cars that are not in use all for an affordable price.

What does your business do?

HiyaCar is a peer-to-peer car sharing platform – essentially, we are the Airbnb for cars. We aim to help individuals and businesses monetise their motors while making vehicle use more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Our platform has pioneered the use of keyless (QuickStart) technology for car hire in the UK, meaning cars can be hired, unlocked, and started all through a mobile phone – there’s no need for filling out time-consuming forms or meeting to swap keys.

Unlike competitors, HiyaCar is a fleetless solution, as we do not add any new cars to the road. We instead, aim to help our members rent their cars out to their neighbours, increasing access and reducing the need for further ownership with a secure and simple platform. This benefits both the local environment and the local economy.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Graeme (CEO): I have always been fascinated by cars. I scrimped and saved to buy a brand new Fiesta Freestyle as a teenager, eventually putting down £11,000 on the vehicle. Later, I sold that car for £3,000. I knew that such a depreciation on an asset that was barely used meant that the way we buy, own and sell cars was fundamentally broken.

That thought never left me. After spending some years as a business analyst in the City, myself and Rob Larmour (COO) an old friend, met up and began planning for HiyaCar.

How did you know there was a market for it?

It was clear that the way we buy and own cars was not sustainable, both in terms of the personal expense and the environmental impact. Alongside this, the growth of the sharing economy in the technology sector showed that people were beginning to rethink ownership, particularly in the face of growing costs. Sharing provided an elegant solution and the technology was mature enough to make it simple and secure.

How did you raise funding, and why?

We have raised £2.2million so far through Seedrs (the crowdfunding platform) and Angel investors. The enthusiasm of Seedr’s community showed that the platform already had popular support behind it.

Describe your business model in brief.

We provide a platform that allows people to share their car with those in the local community. Owners place their car on the platform and set the rates for their hires (we provide suggested guidelines for these based on the car’s make, model and age). Each time a car is hired, the owner receives 70 per cent of the rental fee and we receive the other 30 per cent. We also have a ‘Hiya-Earners’ scheme for particularly active members, who can earn up to 80 per cent of the rental fee.

What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?

The first big hurdle our business had to cross was securing insurance. A comprehensive policy for car sharing had not been done before, and a number of insurance companies were reluctant to take the plunge on the business. With a lot of persistence, 12 months of hard work, and with the help of AON, a policy with AXA was secured which covers both car owners and car hirers.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Remain focused and go with your gut instincts. Persistence and hard work pays off, so don’t be discouraged if at first the answer is a ‘no’. Genuine passion is essential for any business… Make sure the service is something that you would use in your day to day life, if it isn’t, why should anyone else?

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

We want to be the UK’s largest car hire community. We have just announced a pilot partnership with Adur & Worthing councils to supply the first peer-to-peer sharing solution for business usage in the UK. Over the next five years we want to continue to build this business offering and expand our consumer community beyond London. Alongside this, we hope to pioneer the use of greener vehicles and encourage more of them onto our platform.

If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…

Graeme Risby – While I would love to say I’d be a professional golfer, my handicap is quite a way off that… Arguably, I’m in the perfect place, as my passion really is around both cars and community – if I were not building HiyaCar I would still be working hard elsewhere in this industry.

What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?

In a nutshell, we want to see people sharing more and owning less, reducing their environmental impact and saving themselves money.

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for SmallBusiness.co.uk. He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...