Lukas Steinhilber (CEO), Melchior Bauer (CEO), and Guy Moller (CTO) © Nils Lucas
What inspired you to found your startup?
In 2014 I was asked to organise lease cars for our company. I first liked the task but after 4 months of experiencing the painful and unsatisfying car buying process, I still didn’t order a car. I told my collegue and good friend Melchior about it and we realised, that we coincidentally stumbled across one of the most intransparent and old-fashioned billion dollar markets worldwide. We thought: when there’s a problem, there’s an opportunity!
How do you define success for yourself and your company?
Success for me is the hopefully long-lasting opportunity to work on the things that I like to work on, surrounded by people I like to work with. Our company will be succesfull if we have implemented an amazon-like experience for new cars: Order your new car in a few clicks and have it delivered to your doorstep.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
To be honest – no. Of course you sometimes go through some pretty rough periods. Eg 8 months after our foundation we were nearly broke and I had to move out of my appartment and move into a friends place. But those experiences strengthened us as entrepreneurs. We have developed an amazing and unique product and have managed to a built a great team that is working extremely hard on getting things better every day – we´re quite proud of that.
What problem does your product solve?
By 2020 approx eight out of ten cars will be leased. But the carleasing market is the most intransparent market you can think of: thousands of local players, all setting their own prices and a financial product where rates are calculated by a „black-box“ defined by banks which noone understands. Because of this, customers pay way too much for their lease cars. With our platform we reduce the effort for research and comparison from 10 h to 5 m and save our customers on average 4.000 € per contract.
Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?
1 Year: Being the german market leader for online sales of new cars
5 Years: Being the european market leader for online sales of new cars
10 Years: Being the global market leader for online sales of new cars
How are you different?
We see ourselves as pioneers with the great opportunity to change the way cars are sourced at the moment: local, offline and highly intransparent. Being the first company that offers the perfect mix of a digital selection & order process compared with a smart benchmarking algorithm we are able to scale up much faster than local dealers or other portals. Additionally, we offer a simple and free SaaS tool to our business customers that simplyfies the management of their fleet.
How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?
The decision-making process for a new car takes on average 3-4 months. We try to attract users attention right at the beginning and within this time period we see them returning daily, browsing through all different models, checking prices and special offers. As we are the only platform showing realtime leaserates it is just a matter of time until the users find the optimal solution in their price range.
Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?
We are not a social startup, but we think 100% customer-centric. We want to reshape the market from industry-driven to customer-driven and empower everyone to base the car-buying decision on actual market information. On average customers currently pay 4000 € too much for their lease contract, which is insane. By using Vehiculum this will change dramatically and save our target group more than 5 billion €/year.
How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?
What happened in the last years was definitely a profesionalisation of the industry resulting in much more capital, talent and structure. This is a great development and I´m pretty sure it will continue.
What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?
That depends on what you compare it to. Compared to other german cities or european capitals, Berlin is for sure the best place to launch a startup. Compared to the US there still seems to be a little too much of anxiety, too less trust and definitely too much bureaucracy. I´d wish to see more initiatives by the government to improve this. But all in all I think we have a great infrastructure, great talent and a great city – so there´s not a lot to complain about.
Vehiculum was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.