Get a Banker in the Car to Beat Uber, European Rivals Say

  • French Chauffeur-Prive, Spanish Cabify target business clients
  • They’re spending profits, funds raised on expanding abroad

Uber Technologies Inc.’s European rivals say they’ve found a chink in its armor: bankers, lawyers and business clients.

Spain’s Cabify, backed by Rakuten Inc., and France’s Chauffeur-Prive, backed by La Banque Postale’s XAnge, are catering to corporates with services Uber doesn’t offer on its ride-hailing application. This includes letting customers book a chauffeured car ahead of time and know in advance how much they’ll be charged. Both startups are profitable, both seek expansion across Europe and internationally.

Yannick Hascoet

Source: Chauffeur-Prive

“Our priority is to get recurring customers,” said Yannick Hascoet, the 31-year-old French-South African who founded Chauffeur-Prive five years ago and has 650,000 clients in Paris, Lyon and the Cote d’Azur. Customers including Rothschild, law firms and French media companies TF1Altice NV’s BFM TV and Vivendi SA subsidiary Canal+ spell cash flows for Chauffeur-Prive, as it evaluates expanding in Europe and North Africa this year.

Cabify plans to start service in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Panama in the coming months to bulk up its Latin American presence, with a special focus on corporate clients though not limited to them, said ex-Bank of America Corp. analyst Juan Garcia Braschi, the startup’s chief financial officer and Spain country manager. That’ll help drive sales to about 100 million euros ($112 million) in 2016, from 40 million euros in 2015, he said.

“We aim to grow in Latin America and aspire to be present in every city with over a million people," Garcia Braschi said. Cabify recently closed a funding round that raised $120 million, Japanese e-commerce operator Rakuten Inc. accounting for about 80 percent of the total financing. Brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss also participated in the round.

While they’re much smaller than Uber, which is present in about 400 cities in 70 countries, its European rivals are adding to existing pressure by taxis and other local players. In China, Didi Chuxing has launched in hundreds of cities and this week got $1 billion in backing from Apple Inc.

Chauffeur-Prive wants to grow business customers to more than half of its total sales, from about 20 percent today. It has forecast revenue of as much as 60 million euros this year, from 25 million euros in 2015. Its plans to grow away from home are attracting investors, though the company’s profits are enough to fund expansion, Hascoet said. The startup last raised 5 million euros in January 2015 from investors including La Banque Postale’s XAnge and CM-CIC, valuing it at 25 million euros.

Uber also has an offer aimed at business customers and surpassed rental cars among professionals in the U.S. last quarter. On its website, it promotes its offer as cheaper than using a taxi and shows parts of its application which let employers define an expense policy and employees detail their work travel.

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