Meet our Portfolio: Drive lah

Startup Spotlights

In 2021, Drive lah joined the Accelerating Asia portfolio and Cohort 4 of our flagship program.

As part of our award-winning accelerator VC, Drive lah will receive up to S$200k in investment plus resources, access and tools to fast-track growth. Learn more about becoming part of our portfolio.

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In 2021, Drive lah joined the Accelerating Asia portfolio and Cohort 4 of our flagship program.

As part of our award-winning accelerator VC, Drive lah will receive up to S$200k in investment plus resources, access and tools to fast-track growth. Learn more about becoming part of our portfolio.

Drive lah Key Facts

  • Founded: September 2018
  • 10X within 15 months since raising the seed round.
  • Acquired SMOVE
  • Number of trips: 17k+ trips
  • Growth rate: 20% Month on Month
  • Investment raised: $1.5M
  • Currently raising: $3M, with over 50% already committed.

Tell us a little bit about Drive Lah

Drive lah is a mobility company that offers flexible & affordable access to cars nearby for whatever you need it for - personal or commercial without the hassle of ownership. And we do this in the most efficient manner by using existing idle cars and leveraging technology to provide keyless access.

How does Drive lah work?

So basically, there are two main groups who use Drive lah – car owners and users.

For car owners, hosting is free and Drive lah makes it simple and secure to share your car. Car owners decide the rental price, specific rules and availability. Cars are automatically insured by our insurance partners - Tokio Marine & NTUC.

For drivers, registration and verification is free. We only charge a small fee to provide a fully secured and convenient experience to you including insurance. In the end, you save up to 30-40% on your car rentals.

Why did you decide to start Drive lah?  

Actually, it is something very simple, we sometimes rented cars and the experience was quite frustrating from a traditional rental company.

So, we thought that can be done much better, making use of cars that people have and not using all the time.  And so therefore we thought we bring together people with cars that are not using them with people that sometimes need a car.

What did you do before you became Founders?

Gaurav: I did my engineering and did my MBA, then I worked in different roles in corporate for 15 years in marketing, product and technology. I bring more of the product and the technology side of things to the business.

Dirk Jan: I'm originally from the Netherlands. I've lived in different countries including Germany and China and moved to Singapore in 2011. I have also worked in corporate companies for 15 years, mostly in commercial and marketing roles.

And from there we started this company.

How did you come together as Founders?

Gaurav: Both of us were colleagues before. We met in 2016 when I moved to Singapore and Dirk Jan was already working in the company there. So, like a lot of colleagues, we would hang out, after work for a beer or for lunch. The idea of Drive lah was born on the 18th of September 2018, when we were having lunch, the two of us and Dirk Jan was sharing his frustrations about car rentals.

Then we started talking and one thing led to the other and there was no looking back after that.

Dirk Jan: That is definitely how it was. We said ok how does this work in Asia? Because in Europe, and in the US, we've seen similar types of models that worked but Asia is a different thing. Just generally, if you look at Asian markets, the growing middle class in upcoming cities is growing enormously but people, they spend a lot of money, of their disposable income on cars on mobility.

And so, that's where we thought. Okay, if you look at that, right? People spend over 20 percent of their disposable income on cars that doesn't make any sense. We believed in the concept and just got to thinking how we were going to make this work.

Then we just started planning and executing.

How did you overcome early roadblocks?

People always think that Singapore is expensive cars but it’s the rest of the region as well. People across Asia spend a disproportionate amount of money from their income on cars.

When we started the two big roadblocks for us were insurance and regulation. We spent a lot of time together on overcoming those barriers.  

So, on the regulatory barriers, we went to one of these events in NUS where Senior Ministor of State Chee was speaking. And he was talking about how easy the Singapore government makes for startups to blossom and we came of that meeting and said, okay, let's just try and email them our problem.

We just drafted a whole huge email for him and we emailed it to him and not expecting a response, we just thought let's try our luck. Within a couple of days, he responded back and asked one of his team members to look into it. And that's how our journey with overcoming the regulatory barrier started.

Now, we work closely with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Land Transport Authority. And the partnership has been very fruitful.

The other challenge was insurance. When we started, it is a unique insurance product that we needed to insure the cars which are being taken on a trip basis, from point A to point B, let's say, time A to time B, nothing like it existed in the market. We spoke to over 20 insurance companies in Singapore, everybody said no, everybody said no.  

The only insurance company which came on board at that point in time was Tokio Marine and that is how we started. Now we have one more insurance company which works with us which is NTUC in Singapore.

We’ve learned a lot over that period of time and in overcoming the challenges.

Bottom line you just have to be persistent with it and the way we work with regulators and auto insurance was something that made it happen.

What is Drive lah’s traction so far?

We started in June 2019, we did four trips. In July we did 8, then 15 and so on.

But in October 2019, we signed a partnership with the LTA and after a visit to our office and media coverage from the team, we noticed we had an increase in trips.

We saw that people started signing up so  the trips increased, and in those 15 months, we’ve grown 10X and completed over 17000 trips and growing 20% month on month.

What are your plans for the future?

We want to be the biggest car sharing service in Asia Pacific.

We have good traction in Singapore and have already launched in Australia.

We want to expand to more markets in Asia Pacific in the next 12 to 18 months and grow another 10X and move into new segments.

Our next big milestone is next 18 months and we are fundraising right now for this purpose. Our growth and the fundraise will set up our foundation for the future.

In fact, one of the things that we just did was to acquire another company, Smove, which was a car sharing company in Singapore. We acquired their customers, their technology, which is also helping us with the momentum now.

What are your key focus areas in order to achieve growth?

One key building block is to continue to grow in Singapore where we have grown quite rapidly and plan to grow 5X there and double down on our original market.  

The second part is indeed getting into new segments.

The third is, the geographical expansion across APAC.

Tell us about your journey to joining Accelerating Asia…

One of our investors put us in touch with the Accelerating Asia team and what you realise as a Founder is that there are things you do, like hustle, you talk to people you don’t know what will come of our where.

So, we were just talking to the team, taking them through our pitch deck and we loved their inputs at that point of time. When we first started talking to the team, it wasn’t from a perspective of joining the accelerator, we were just talking to them for tips on advice on how to shape our pitch deck and how to shape our story.

And we just love their inputs and one thing led to the other and applied to join the accelerator because we just enjoyed the discussions so much.

Why did you join Accelerating Asia?

We really like the no-nonsense approach that was the key thing and the second was the help with fundraising.

The reason we joined the accelerator was because we are first-time Founders. There are a lot of things, we don't know what we don't know and that is the gap we want to bridge with the accelerator program.

Of course, along with help on fundraising, but the knowledge gap that you have as a first-time founder that is something we want to bridge with this accelerator program.

The other thing is we thought they are and they really showed us they are no nonsense. You meet a lot of people that claim to be experts and you know, it's not always really true but with these guys it is.

So, we believe there's a lot of value in the program with Accelerating Asia.

Also, with the group of people that are around Accelerating Asia that are experts in SEO and other areas that can help you grow the business.

Drive lah received investment from our early-stage VC fund and graduated from Cohort 4 of our flagship program. During our last recruitment round Accelerating Asia received 500 applications from 30 countries and we have with 2000+ startups per year.

If you’re interested in connecting with Drive lah, investing alongside us, meeting our portfolio companies, or just generally interested in talking to us about startup investing, please reach out and tell us a little bit about yourself.

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