Photo: carzapp GmbH
Two young guys meet at a university event–this could be the start of a story about a boozy evening. Wrong. Great stories start this, and even some revolutions. The two young men in this case are called Oliver Lünstedt and Sahil Sachdeva. They met on the Venture Campus at Technische Universität of Berlin, a project of the TU Startup Initiative. A little later, an idea became reality and the two started the company, carzapp.
With their idea, these businesspeople might be able to change how cars are shared from the ground up, because in the future not only professional rental agencies or vehicle manufacturers will rent cars, but private people as well. “Our idea was to avoid putting more cars on the streets. Instead, use the ones are already there but seldom driven by their owners”, explains Mr. Lünstedt. Up to ten new cars could be replace by a shared car.
Wittelsbacherstraße 18 is a quiet, tasteful, almost staid-appearing building, not a location where one would expect to find a new startup company. The door opens and provides a view of a long entryway with white walls and parquet flooring. In the conference room, there is a large table and similarly large pictures on the walls. Oliver Lünstedt explains almost apologetically, “We’re sharing offices with three other startup companies.”, including an insurance agent, who insures vehicles. The company is working together with the agent and can therefore offer insurance policies that have been specially tailored to the requirements of sharing private cars.
The little revolution begins with a nondescript box, the so-called ZappKit. This hardware is then installed in the car. The ZappKit includes a mobile radio and a GPS device. The doors can be locked and unlocked by an app. “ZappKit works with over 90 percent of all vehicles”, says Oliver Lünstedt. The important pre-requisite is a central locking system, so that the renter and owner do not have to meet and exchange keys. A second key is stored in the car. “For security, the ZappKit also includes a theft prevention system”, says the 28-year-old. In springtime, the company will start beta testing. The ZappKit will then be installed in about 100 vehicles for testing purposes. The renter can determine the rental price within certain limits. Oliver Lünstedt figured roughly four euros per hour plus a mileage surcharge for mid-class car, including insurance and commission.
carzapp wants to go one step further. Since October 2011, the company has been part of the „Schaufenster Berlin-Brandenburg“ project [Berlin-Brandenburg’s window on electrical mobility]. Together with E.ON and DLR work on one of the Schaufenster core projects is currently underway. The goal is to combine car sharing and electrical mobility. For example, one could then lease an electrical vehicle for three years and rent it privately during that time.