Toogethr, a fast-growing Utrecht start-up that offers smart technology on the commercial market for carpooling and parking, aims to spread its wings to the rest of Europe with an investment from AutoBinck.
Toogethr uses algorithms to link colleagues who are on the move with each other and make it easier for them to find parking. The start-up already has tens of thousands of business customers in the Benelux and is a permanent mobility partner of several large employers in The Netherlands. For example, Toogethr recently helped dairy company Danone solve the problem of mobility for its staff following the move of its global headquarters from Schiphol Airport to Hoofddorp, which involved 1800 employees. The new location has 180 parking spaces, whereas the previous location had more than 350 parking spaces. Toogethr provided a solution with ride-sharing, parking and shuttle buses.
Reason enough for Innovation Origins to choose Toogethr as their first start-up of the new year. We had a chat with CEO Joost Bijlsma.
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What’s your product and what problem do you solve?
Toogethr stems from a company that was already founded in 2013 by two students who came up with the idea to launch a carpool app. At that time, traffic jams were becoming more and more common and carpooling seemed like a good solution. It wasn’t easy to successfully run a company back then, most likely because the technology wasn’t that advanced yet and the mobile internet was a lot slower. The current management started up 3 ½ years ago and since then we’ve been speeding ahead.
Can you mention some figures?
We now have a total of 25,000 users for our ride-sharing platform which 10,000 people use every week. This means that 6000-7000 fewer cars enter rush-hour traffic each week. Our model is license-based, which means that companies take out a subscription for their staff and pay between €1.50 and €2 per month.
What has been the main obstacle that you have had to overcome?
Carpooling is of course a great solution to reduce the number of cars on the road. However, many people don’t want to share their car with just anyone. Suppose you encounter a junkie or a sex offender. Trust is very important when it comes to making carpooling a success. Sharing a car with a colleague, on the other hand, is safe and practical. What’s more, it’s fun and because of our points system, it also offers a few advantages. For example, people who carpool are rewarded with a free parking space. At the meetings we organize at the companies we work with, within five minutes contacts are often made between people who have the same working hours and who live nearby each other. The current Toogethr is much more data-driven compared to our predecessors. Our app links colleagues to each other based on data from the Toogethr network (‘Match & Ride’). Toogethr tackles parking problems with an online parking management platform that is also linked to the app.
You often hear that people see their car as being an extension of their living room. They’re quite willing to travel for longer amounts of time as a result.
We haven’t noticed that. The sharing economy is very much in vogue these days. Whereby carpooling isn’t per se something for young people. The average age of our users is between 35 and 45.
What are your ambitions and what do you want to work towards over the coming years?
The investment made by AutoBinck Group – a family business that has grown into a European player with more than 1600 employees in eight European countries – is very important to us. It will give us more clout when it comes to executing our plans and ambitions for growth and enable us to become an important European player in this field. On top of that, AutoBinck has a lot of experience with Smart Mobility, which gives us plenty of added value.
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