Jimena Pardo Diaz, co-founder of Carrot car sharing company in Mexico City, discusses in the web exclusive Q&A how the company has fared since officially launching in June. At 750 registers so far, Carrot has 16 locations at a fleet of 18 vehicles.
Discuss your car sharing start-up company in Mexico City. How did it evolve?
We started on a beta period in May, and officially launched in June. We don’t have a partnership with the city government but we have their full support. Mexico City´s Major Marcelo Ebrard actually joined us on our launching event.
What has the uptake been on the new program?
Results have been great, we have found that citizens are really eager to use it and make this program a success. We have more than 750 registers so far. People are using it for business and pleasure. Costumers have taken ownership of the service and helped us improve it.
Did you have rental locations before the start of the program?
No. Diego Solórzano Cervantes and I are very young. Diego is 25 and had a well-paid job in a financial enterprise, while I am 27 and used to work for HP. Diego took an entrepreneur course and had the idea that a Zipcar model could work in Mexico City. I am a city lover and always had an interest in environmental issues. We met and it was a perfect match that made us start Carrot from scratch. It was a risk to move from the comfort of our good jobs, but we have been so passionate about our business that clients have noticed it and we have shared that to them.
We don´t own a counter yet. We instead do street marketing where we hand out brochures and activate cards right there.
What's your fleet size?
We have 18 cars — two of them are SUVs. We would like to end the year with 100, including 100% electric vehicles.
How many locations do you have and in what types of areas?
16 in central neighbors. Locations are usually in highly populated areas with a good alternative transportation penetration, and with a mix between residential and commercial areas.
How did the business start logistically?
We started from a “seed fund” in Mexico. It was very important for us to start with Venture Institute (the seed fund) as our partners.
Are you pursuing new sources of business/customers?
Not now. We are focusing on delivering the best service to our customers.
Describe your marketing efforts and what the payback has been so far.
Street marketing and social media have been great, since we can interact with our possible costumers and get to know them. The feedback has been great, people love the service. We also do online targeted ads.
We have more clients that we thought we would have at this point, so we are so excited about it. We actually went viral on social media. The need for mobility solutions is a trend in Mexico City, and something that is really needed. (Click the photo at right to enlarge the company's infographic.)
What are your popular rental vehicles?
SUV´s during the weekend.
How do you buy cars?
How long do you expect to keep cars in fleet?
We are considering three years.
What are your biggest challenges with fleet?
We are making an alliance with Nissan. The biggest challenge will be the Nissan Leaf since there are no electric cars available in Mexico people are not familiarized with them. Plus, there are no recharging stations around the city.
What are your biggest challenges right now in the car rental, car sharing business?
Our biggest challenge is to get people to sell their car and show them it is not really needed. Our goal is to eliminate 1% of the vehicles in Mexico City. So wish us luck!
What kind of products/software do you use to manage your business, and why did you decide on these products?
We use Convadis Hardware and Ebus Software, they were recommended to us by other car sharing companies. They seem to be the best.
What car rental companies are your competition?
Conventional car rentals and taxis.
What is that economic climate like currently for you in Mexico City?
The current climate in Mexico is stable. There has just been an election, where a lot of people are not happy with the results, but nevertheless, all protests have been in a peaceful way.
How has the car rental market in Mexico City evolved in the past 10 years? 20 years?
We are pioneers in this kind of car rental, or car sharing. In the past 10 years car sharing members have grown 5,500% around the world. We hope Mexico will jump in to this service too.
What does the car rental market over the next five years in Mexico City look like?
We are expecting 1,000 units in México City and presence in other major cities in the country. I think the conventional rental could also grow its share as there is a lot of motivation for the tourist industry.
Do you have any legal threats that are challenging how you do business?
It has been hard to get public street places, but we have had the full support of the Environmental Ministry of the city.
Where do you think the biggest growth potential is in your business?
Both families and business.
Are you part of any industry-related associations?
We just joined Endeavor Network as Entrepreneurs.
Carrot on the Web: