European car rental service Virtuo has raised 17.3 million pounds (about $23 million) in funding. The investors were Iris Capital, Balderton Capital and Raise Ventures.
London, 12th February 2019
Car rental startup, Virtuo, stepped up its battle against the giant car rental companies today by announcing that it has raised £17.3m from Iris Capital, Balderton Capital and Raise Ventures to help it make a big push into the UK market in 2019. Virtuo, which currently operates in 21 locations in France and Belgium, also launches in Spain and in Germany in 2019, making it a truly pan-European rental option for drivers who are fed up with being served so poorly by the existing car hire sector.
Virtuo launched in London last summer, having been born out of frustration with traditional car rental. The Virtuo app allows users to book and unlock a pristine Mercedes A-Class or GLA in minutes, at stations across London, and the business has seen revenue grow by 10 times in the UK in the last seven months. As a whole, the company is growing at a rate of 200% per annum.
“Now is the right time for this investment, because we want to revolutionise car rental across Europe and show that with our service, there is simply no need to own a car anymore,” said Virtuo’s Co-founder, Karim Kaddoura. “Travel outside cities in many European countries is not well served. Here in the UK, the railways are becoming less efficient and increasingly expensive. We want to show a younger generation that cars are still a really convenient and cheap way to travel and that you don’t need to own a vehicle to be able to have on-demand and hassle-free access to it.”
Virtuo promises to eradicate the horrors of traditional car hire including hour-long queues at rental desks, unnecessary up-selling of insurance and accessories, never being able to get the car you actually booked, as well as opaque terms and conditions that make hiring stressful and steep penalties easy to incur. Virtuo users can complete all paperwork in the app before picking up a valeted car from their chosen spot and unlocking it with a smart key downloaded to their phone.
Through the app, drivers can extend and modify bookings in seconds and are rewarded for returning their car with extra fuel. The digital car key can be shared between four additional drivers, for no extra charge, and competitive rental rates vary depending on demand, period and rental duration.
Stéphane Pesqué, partner at Iris Capital, said: “Virtuo’s founders have created a business that is disrupting car rental from the ground up relying on a unique digital path for users. We love their attention to detail and their determination to perfect the customer experience, which will convince occasional and frequent drivers that Virtuo is the best solution when travelling for work and leisure in Europe. We are very proud to invest in them at this stage.”
Bernard Liautaud, managing partner of Balderton Capital, said: “Technology in cars and other areas of mobility is evolving rapidly, due to concerns over the environment and congestion. Given these shifts, renting a car as and when you need it is becoming a viable alternative to buying, particularly for younger people who have come of age as the sharing economy took off. The same way innovative tech companies are disrupting legacy players in sectors like finance, Virtuo, in which we first invested 18 months ago, is radically changing the way we hire a car.”
Virtuo is disrupting the car rental space with a product that sets out to fix all the pain points of traditional car rental. During 2019 the mobile-only car hire company will introduce the ability to pick up a vehicle in one place and drop it off elsewhere. It will also launch in Spain and Germany in June, further serving travellers who are frustrated by legacy car-rental companies.
Virtuo service is available at six UK locations: Waterloo, Victoria, St Pancras, Marble Arch, Kensington High Street, Stratford International and will shortly be available in Earl’s Court, Shepherd’s Bush, London Bridge, Liverpool Street and Heathrow
Further UK locations – Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh – pending
France: 19 locations
Belgium: 2 locations
Virtuo has had 500,000 downloads of the app
Age bracket of Virtuo’s customer is 25-35
Average number of days of each rental: 4
80% of customers go for the compact A Class, while 20% take SUV
325 average miles per rental
How does Virtuo work:
Customers create their account by providing their driver’s license and a selfie. The whole process takes just a couple of minutes and only has to be carried out once
Once users have decided on their preferred model, Mercedes A-Class or GLA, they can choose the best insurance coverage and personalised options that suit their needs.
The Virtuo app guides users to their car – Virtuo has no rental desks- and takes them through every step of the process.
As customers get closer to their car, they can use the virtual key in the app to unlock it.
A quick damage report is carried out in the app using your phone’s camera
Virtuo’s tariff is from £35 per day in the UK, depending on demand, period and rental duration. The tariff includes up to 150 miles of travel, with the option to exceed this for a surcharge of £0.10 per mile. Up to 4 additional drivers can be registered for each car.
Virtuo’s customer service team can be contacted 24/7 through an integrated chat module that allows the user to ask questions and receive answers in real time.
Virtuo was founded out of the frustrations of renting a car from a traditional car rental company. Launched in France in 2016, the company provides a seamless, convenient and affordable way to lease premium cars, through a mobile app. Without paperwork and available 24/7, Virtuo’s cars can be rented from convenient locations like airports and railway stations in France, Belgium and the UK, with more locations opening in 2019. www.govirtuo.com
About Iris Capital
Iris Capital is a leading European VC specialized in the digital economy. It fuels entrepreneurs at various stages of maturity, from early-stage to growth equity. With its deep sector specialization and extensive experience acquired over 30+ years, as well as the backing of its corporate sponsors, Iris Capital provides active support to its portfolio companies, through its presence in Paris, Berlin, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Dubai.
For more information, visit www.iriscapital.com
About RAISE Ventures:
Founded in 2013 by Clara Gaymard and Gonzague de Blignières, the RAISE Group is organized around four complementary activities: RAISE Investments, RAISE REIM, RAISE Ventures and the RAISESHERPAS Endowment Fund.
– RAISE Investments is a €410 million development capital company targeting ITEs with strong growth potential and taking stakes of between €10 million and €50 million;
– RAISE REIM, a portfolio management company dedicated to real estate, whose first vehicle has a capital of 210M€;
– RAISE Ventures, a €60 million investment company targeting innovative start-ups, within which RAISE Media Investment, a media investment company, is integrated;
– The RAISESHERPAS Endowment Fund, a philanthropic structure with a budget of more than €22 million to support, finance and network startups in order to help them build sustainable adventures.
The RAISE Group is based on a financing mechanism that combines profitability and generosity, since the investment teams give 50% of their profit-sharing to finance the RAISESHERPAS Endowment Fund. This pioneering system in France makes it possible to create a virtuous ecosystem, combining large groups and institutional shareholders, TWAs and startups.
For more information: www.raise.co
About Balderton Capital:
Balderton Capital is Europe’s largest early stage venture capital investor, focused on European technology companies at Series A. Based in London, the firm manages $2.6bn and invests in entrepreneurs building globally ambitious businesses. Balderton’s Partners and advisory team include the founders and operational leaders of multi-billion dollar companies including Business Objects, Dropbox, Uber and Autonomy. Previous investments include Betfair (FTSE: BET), Magic Pony (Twitter), NaturalMotion (Zynga), Sunrise (Microsoft) and Yoox Net-a-Porter (BIT: YNAP). Among Balderton’s current portfolio of 76 companies are: Aircall, Carwow, Citymapper, Contentful, GoCardless, The Hut Group, Kobalt Music, Nutmeg, Prodigy Finance, Recorded Future, Revolut, ROLI, SOPHiA Genetics, Talend (NASDAQ: TLND), Vestiaire Collective, and Vivino. For more see http://www.balderton.com or follow @balderton.