Back in 2019 I took part in a very exciting project, it was innovative, exciting and most importantly so much fun. When we got back from the US I wrote this piece.
In this post I’d like to tell you about an idea I had a few months back, an idea about creating something that already existed and was already successful, to create a product that was already used by hundreds of thousands of people around the world and still missing that excellent solution. 5 Months later, this idea became a successful reality.
I had an idea to create a White label vehicle sharing solution.
Most residents of large cities around the world and people within the transportation industry already heard of the new and significant wave of vehicle sharing. From stationary to free floating, from cars to scooters, bikes to kick-bikes, we’ve all heard at least one of the large vehicle sharing company names before.
This article is about finding a niche that needed innovation, and how with a small and highly motivated group of people, we created the leanest car sharing provider in the world.
T0 — Innovation
Luck is very handy when it comes to innovation, keep that in mind. I took a position at a very young and forward-thinking company called Free2Move that leads the largest and most successful aggregation app for vehicle sharing worldwide. After a month, I founded the Business Innovation Department within the company, thinking that if the company is already so good at being an aggregator, we can be good at a few new things, which I wasn’t sure what they were just then.
Remember luck? Well, luckily, Free2Move is owned by PSA Groupe, the second largest automotive company in the world, representing brands such as Peugeot, Citroen and Opel. PSA is a forward thinking company, looking to invest into new technologies and put the company in the spearhead of mobility.
Resources and innovation are good ol’ buds, but resources aren’t the only thing that breeds innovation. One other component that is no less important, research. I can’t imagine a way to innovate in an industry without having sufficient knowledge about it.
Hire — Plan — Build — Plan — Build — Hire
Modern day chicken and egg scenario. If we don’t plan how can we hire, if we haven’t hired yet, who will plan, and, when will anyone get to build anything? Now, instead of trying to answer this question in a global objective way, I’ll share my subjective experience.
I didn’t have a plan, I had a vision. A clear, scoped idea of what I wanted to get built. I knew what type of people I would need to accomplish that idea and, most importantly, I was ‘500%’ motivated to make it happen. Here’s an inside tip for hiring highly motivated people, if the person in charge of hiring is not highly motivated chances are slim in finding such people.
Once I had a clear vision and started hiring the dream team, it was time to build. At this point, I relearnt the meaning of excellence. With a team of 5 including myself, we had MVPs done for all platforms within 3 months and native mobile applications were launched to the public. Within 4 months we had improved Version 1.0 applications that were officially launched with car sharing service in Washington DC, we even managed to include some “Nice to have” features.
One Backend to rule them all
Part of the vision and strategy for the vehicle sharing solution was a robust backend layer. A layer that would serve the applications, gather information from third party providers, connect the vehicles, document verification, payment providers and more while maintaining flexibility and high-level performance. This backend was designed in such a way, it could deal with many different vehicle-sharing business cases, also ones less known in the B2C sector as well.
Who doesn’t like a good app?
Ask me any day and I’ll choose a good app over a bad one. Surprised? Well, in business, sometimes getting a good product isn’t as easy as it may sound. There are many vendors that are willing to sell clients anything from a full-fledged services to renting out one of their experts. The results may range from fantastic to delays of months with a less than a mediocre product.
The project wasn’t a single team effort, we worked closely with third party providers and the collaboration between the teams is where the magic happened. It’s also worth mentioning, that none of this could have been possible unless the teams weren’t all on board with the plan.
Free2move Carsharing Washington DC
Our first Free2Move Business Innovation success is now live and working. Remember PSA Groupe, luck and resources, well this is a good place to tie up this story. A month after starting work on this project, PSA offered to have this product as the app of their first step back on US soil. From there on the race was on, do or die, October 25th was the official launch date and we had to make it on time. We promised an MVP, we gave a good, stable V1.0.
Free2move carsharing was launched in Washington DC. Since then we’ve managed to add a few new features and we have a plan to continue and grow within the vehicle sharing business.
Things I didn’t mention, but are worth mentioning
It hasn’t always been easy. There are many people and companies I touched and changed along the way. Colleagues joined and left, relationships were built and demolished, there were times where the deadlines we set for ourselves seemed impossible and there were even colleagues that didn’t support us as a team. But, what’s most important is that we were all focused, we had a goal in mind and we achieved it.
My name is Inbal Cohen I lead the Business Innovation Department at Free2Move, a Berlin based company creating Smart Mobility Solutions within the MAAS environment.
Hope you enjoyed this piece, if you did, slap a like on it, if you really liked it, write a comment or send me a pm.