today’s products and services are being designed differently than it was done in the past. In this specific situation, we spotted two main mindset shifts that were crucial for developing SmileCar. First, platform businesses don’t own the products and services, because people already have them, there is no need to come with another supply, it is enough to utilize the current, if possible. Second, customers starts to trust sharing economy and are ready to benefit from it. And cars are one of the first things that they are willing to share.
that is how the whole idea of SmileCar started. We were asked to join the team to help develop and grow SmileCar. Since 2016, we’ve been working on it. Nowadays, SmileCar is the biggest car sharing platform in the Czech Republic with almost 10.000 registered drivers and hundreds of cars available to be shared.
“in Prague, there is more than 1.15 million cars, but only 745 thousand drivers. Majority of the cars are just parked and even if their drivers are using them, they do for an hour a day on average.
in the beginning, before the time the app was being developed, we conducted focus groups with early adopters. They were willing to come and join the design thinking workshops, where we discussed how an app that would enable them to share their cars could be like. After careful analysis of all kinds of data, we were able to spot three main areas that we needed to focus on. We took these outcomes to shape business plan of SmileCar to a final form.
no papers, just an app
(people are annoyed by signing papers, our era is fully ready to give an overall online experience without any need of a sign on a paper)
complex insurance is crucial
(people are a bit sceptical to the fact that they are the ones that has to insure the car, if there is a problem, they will loose their bonuses, therefore there is a need of an own insurance, that will cover accidents, unexpected damage and also a possibility of a stealing of a car)
rating of Drivers and Owners
(as all the other platform businesses, people want to be sure, who they are dealing with, reviews or other ways of rating the users are critical for people to gain trust in the service and in the specific driver/owner, therefore it is important to be able to give this opportunity to the users)
we took these outcomes to shape a detailed plan of SmileCar. After few months of development and few rounds of alpha and beta testing, in March 2017, we finally launched SmileCar and made it accessible to the public. In the beginning, we were only focusing our marketing activities on early adopters, people who follow trends and are will to try new innovative products. At that time, the most important thing was to balance demand and supply of the sharable cars.
this initial stage was also very helpful for us to adjust the service in the way people like it the most. We focused on the most active 100 users and we listened to their feedback. Once we were confident with the service, we pushed the marketing activities to the next level.
in the next phase of the business development our main focus was growth. To grow fast, but at the same time to be able to control the quality and delivery of the service. Since then, we were focusing on not only early adopters but on all car owners, students without cars, car lovers, but also on satisfying the specific needs of the people (moving a flat with a van, road trip for a group more than 5 people with a SUV, moving fast around the city with small hatchback, and dozens of other possible situation when people appreciate to get a shared car). In this period we also started to focus on showing the benefits in comparison with traditional car rental.
we connected with an external video production company to create provocative series of videos explaining the powerful features that you never experience in classic car rentals (cars just behind the corner, specific choice of a car model, no papers needed, possibility to get a shared car from 18 years of old, wider choice possibilities and lower prices). At that period we got to a point when SmileCar brand started to be powerful and we were able to see the organic growth to speed up.
of shared cars
the succesful results lead us joint venture with Skoda Auto Digilab that owns the biggest rival - HoppyGo. Innovative industry such as carsharing should have one strong market leader to make the business ecosystem to disrupt.
We are happy to see SmileCar and HoppyGo to highfive and even more happy to continue our path as a digital advisory firm for united project - HoppyGo.