Chariot seeks up to $200,000 from crowd to launch social carpooling app modelled along Airbnb

Will the crowd come to Chariot’s call for capital to disrupt the way we travel?

Chariot, New Zealand’s social carpooling and ridesharing app modelled along the lines of global room booking service Airbnb is looking to disrupt the traditional transportation business. But first, the company -- which currently has no stated revenue -- needs to raise between $30,000 and $200,000 to pursue its business model.

Chariot hopes to sell up to 20 percent in the company or a maximum of 250,000 shares at 80 cents apiece, to raise up to $200,000 using the PledgeMe platform.

Chariot’s CEO Dr Thomas Kiefer says: “Chariot’s mission is to reduce the number of empty seats in cars, traffic congestion and carbon emissions by offering a platform for social ride sharing.” 

Chariot will work like the Airbnb (social room sharing service) of transportation. It hopes to offer users an app enabling carpooling and ride sharing for one-off short rides (within the city) or long haul rides (intercity travelling). 

Drivers can “rent out” up to three seats in their vehicles while passengers  share the driver’s costs for the trip. Payments are made securely through the app. Chariot’s income will come from a 20  percent commission on the amount paid by each passenger.

“We want to make carpooling and ride sharing fun and easy for everyone. Our community’s safety is our number #1 priority. For that reason we are building a comprehensive safety system for peace of mind. In addition to background checks we will verify user’s identity and supporting documents, create an innovative 2-way ratings system (driver rates passenger and vice versa), real-time GPS trip monitoring and provide a support team that is available 24/7,” Kiefer says.

Where it is at?

Since June 2014, some nine active members of Chariot have been spending thousands of hours outside their day jobs planning and developing the app. Two designers and a user experience expert helped fine-tuned over 100 app screens in the making.

About 1000 people have already signed up to get notification for when the app is launched.

The company has had better-than-expected result from user experiments on its various messaging styles. It is also confident there is a huge demand in the market for its app, according to information provided on the PledgeMe website.

Launch date

Kiefer says the app will be launched by June 2015 and will be available on iOS and Android but the first step is to raise awareness and grow a large enough user base.

“With around 1000 people already signed up and waiting for the app, we’re confident we can reach our goal of acquiring a critical mass for launch.

"Chariots pre-money valuation is $800,000 and we're comfortable that the valuation reflects a fair value of the company and market position, and, more importantly, the growth potential that Chariot can offer our investors."

Asked how investors should view a company with no stated revenue trying to raise capital, PledgeMe's Anna Guenther says: "Crowdfunding can be used by start up companies as well as those that are growing. Going out for funding pre-revenue isn't new, and Chariot have already done a significant amount of work on their company and product."

She adds that although the company does not yet have active customers, they do have a great crowd both personally and professionally who want to get in on the ground floor with this new company.  

Chariot currently has 10 existing shareholders, the three largest (post-offer) are co-founders Kiefer (25.26 percent), Milan Reinartz (22.50 percent), and Martin Hipp (22.50 percent).

Financials

The company says it does not expect to pay a dividend over the next three years unless a reasonable net profit is achieved.

Its 2017 financial year forecast is for a net profit of $606,542 on an income of $11.23 million while 2018’s forecast net profit is $4.01 million on an income of $63.72 million (of which $56.58 million goes to direct costs).

Assumptions for forecast here

Snapshot of financials

SWOT

Some of the strengths listed by the company include its first-to- market advantage, its strong management team, its genuine cost-sharing model, and its clear vision of what the market’s needs and how to address those needs.

The company says its weaknesses include the need for raising capital which could detract the team from its focus and traction; the additional costs associated with need to scale up, the need to keep its equipment and technology updated; and the limit on its operations capacity following its launch.

Kiefer says investors will get equity in the business as well as incentive rewards based on the amount they contribute.

“We’re throwing in some exciting rewards, from indoor cart racing and helicopter rides to a dinner with the Wellington Mayor and 5,000 km free travel with Chariot."

PledgeMe CEO Anna Guenther says Chariot is an exciting campaign to be hosting. “Chariot’s model needs a crowd, so what better way to kick off their company than bringing that crowd into the business."