“We maybe started six months after these two businesses Turo and Getaround, both of them have raised maybe 100 million bucks, meanwhile in Australia, we scramble to raise 5 million bucks over the last four years...and we’re probably one of the big fundraisers in the Australian economy.”
Will Davies - CEO and Founder of Car Next Door
Startups today are big business, with billions of dollars globally being poured into apps and businesses around the world. Success stories like Airbnb, Instagram, Twitter and Uber drive both investers and founders to keep pushing, and searching for the next big thing.
And when you read or hear about startups, disruptive technology or innovation in the tech space, it’s hard not to immediately think of Silicon Valley. Just south of San Francisco, Silicon Valley is a mecca of high technology, innovation and investment. It’s easy to see why, with almost one-third of all venture capital investment in the United States taking place in Silicon Valley. The term Silicon Valley has now crossed from simply a geographic location to a term that is used to describe the many tech companies that also exist in San Francisco and the Bay area.
As an Australian startup, the world of Silicon Valley seems very far removed, or at least it was, until Car Next Door entered the annual Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow Award.
The Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow Award
Over a year ago, Car Next Door was chosen as one of the Top 20 finalists for Westpac's Businesses of Tomorrow, along with some other fantastic Australian companies. Some of the other winners were organisations such as QuintessenceLabs, a Canberra based cybersecurity company and Mathspace, an online maths education platform.
The Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow program recognises outstanding businesses that have the drive to boost the nation's future as Australia transitions to a services and knowledge-based economy.
As a part of the program, our CEO Will headed abroad on a trip to China and San Francisco to learn the secrets of scaling a business with four other winners. By going to the heart of startup culture in San Francisco, the goal was to be able to hear from, meet and learn from some of the startups that are scaling at incredible pace.
“I’m busting to see what a company looks like that is, you know, literally growing at a thousand percent a year, probably a thousand percent every six months, at the scale they have. It must be hard to keep up with that growth, so I’m interested to see how they handle that.”
On the trip with Will was Jordan O’Reilly, who is the CEO of Hireup. Hireup is an online platform that enables people with disabilities to find, hire and manage support workers that suit their needs and interests. Much like Car Next Door, Hireup is a two-sided marketplace, with our platforms existing to help facilitate safe transactions between two groups of people.
During their trip, Will and Jordan got to hear from Airbnb CEO Joe Gebbia, one of the pioneer’s of the peer-to-peer sharing space today.
“The most impressive piece for me was the way he thought about and spoke about trust and safety. That really related to me because we are building a similar business. We’re building a platform that has two types of users, which is very similar to AirBnb, and Joe Gebbia said these platforms are really a mirror of the communities we live in. And just like our communities, there are good people and there are bad people, and we need to think very deeply about how we keep people safe, how we protect people, and when things go wrong how do we respond.”
As a network business, we know that positive word of mouth is vital to the growth of Car Next Door. Building trust and ensuring that we keep our users, both owners and borrowers, safe is paramount to successful and sustainable growth, and being able to hear from Joe was an invaluable experience.
On the trip, Will heard not only about how Joe is scaling Airbnb, but also the inspirational philanthropic goals the company sets for itself. With Airbnb setting a target of housing over 100,000 refugees and people displaced by natural disasters over the next five years, it’s a great example of how large-scale organisations are giving back to their communities.
Currently, Car Next Door offsets all the emissions created by borrowers driving their neighbours' cars, by working with our carbon offset partner Greenfleet. So far, through this partnership, we have planted over 20,000 trees. Seeing the scale of Airbnb’s impact today was a great reminder for us to be also looking forward, to how we can also affect change on an even greater scale in years to come.
One of the other winners of the Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow was Ash Rosshandler, CEO of GoodCompany, who had some wonderful learnings from his time, and shared a few with us:
Learnings from the Westpac Trip
- Fail is not a 4 letter word
- If faced with a choice - hire on attitude over aptititude
- Solve problems, don’t create them
- Dream big, know how to have fun and get shit done!
A year on from this trip, Will reflects that it was a great experience, and some of the learnings he had from his time abroad are very relevant today.
If you are a Australian business and suit the criteria, Will highly recommends entering the Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow Award!