My Startup: Splend
Splend provides eco-friendly and affordable cars to on-demand drivers, who work for companies like Uber.
Most importantly, drivers also benefit from the unique training, analytics and community provided by Splend, that empower them to become more profitable, safer, and fulfilled in their work.
Founded in Sydney in 2015, they recently relocated the whole business to London with the team raising $10 million equity to date.
Founder: Chris King
We spoke to founder Chris King to find out more...
Why did you start Splend?
I’ve been a serial entrepreneur since the early 2000s, having been involved with various e-commerce, music event and equipment hire businesses from a young age. During the early days of ridesharing in Australia it was clear this was a compelling way for people to earn an income, but that they faced a bunch of obstacles to make it work for them and not the other way round.
Prospective drivers struggled with a lot of pain points – access to (and affordability of) car finance plus all of the admin around insurance, servicing, maintenance and getting the right documents to be a rideshare driver. Once in a vehicle, for a lot of drivers, it’s also clear that ridesharing can be a really tough gig. They can’t access cutting-edge analytics to maximise the time they spend driving, and community support is almost non-existent.
So that’s why I started Splend - designed to help on-demand drivers thrive. With Splend they can earn more, improve their ratings, and enjoy their jobs.
Tell us more about the product?
At Splend we’re revolutionising the business model for on-demand drivers by offering vehicles-as-a-service. But, this doesn’t stop at simply providing eco-friendly and affordable vehicles on flexible plans with a weekly payment.
Drivers benefit from the unique training, analytics and community provided by Splend, that empower them to become more profitable, safer, and fulfilled in their work. We also handle all of the necessary financing, insurance and maintenance, so that drivers can focus on earning an income and do what they do best, drive.
Where are you at right now?
We’re now present in nine cities across Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas and are expanding rapidly.
We’ve just relocated our HQ to London and opened a flagship support centre for the 90,000 private hire drivers working in London.
The UK, which is home to over 250,000 ride-share drivers, is the ideal base for us to continue our global expansion, and we’re delighted to have a host of new talent join our executive team from the likes of Deliveroo, Addison Lee and Argos.
What are your aims for the next year?
Ultimately, we want to be the global go-to provider of vehicles to those looking to make a career out of on-demand driving.
To achieve that, we’re laser-focused on expanding our community of members around the world, including in the UK where we will be launching in a number of new cities over the next few months.
We’re also continuing to build our talented and passionate team across all locations and functions, looking for ambitious leaders who want to define the future – not just for on-demand driving, but for all of our members and each other.
What's been the hardest thing about getting Splend off the ground?
Building any business is really tough!
We have designed a robust business model with solid unit economics alongside a customer-facing value proposition that nobody else has really done. It’s a mix of traditional fleet management, alternative credit, advanced data analytics, tech-enabled product, and driver-centric brand.
It’s hard and you’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way – all you can do is fix them quickly and learn from them.
Why should more people be using Splend?
Our vision is a future where every on-demand driver can be successful.
On-demand driving can, with the right tools, be a great way to earn an income. It can also be a tough gig and - as with any career - drivers need help to make it work for them, and not the other way around. We provide advanced coaching and training to all of our members using data analytics, so they can maximise their earnings and become safer drivers.
Getting started can also be frustrating. There’s lots of paperwork, legislation and competition. At Splend, we help drivers manage the business side of things so they can earn more, get better ratings, and do what they do best. Drive.
We’re more than a car supplier. We provide resources and a community for drivers wanting to be their best. From dedicated support to advanced training and rewards, we help our members take control of their careers with our flexible plans.
How much will it cost members - and why is it worth the investment?
Firstly, in the UK our flexible Rent and Rent to buy plans start at £199 per week which is cheaper than if our members were to finance a new car themselves; once you take into account all the hidden costs of running a car.
Secondly, we provide our members with data-driven coaching and training, which aims to improve earnings and driver safety.
Thirdly, we take care of all the time-consuming admin that comes with a car; registration, servicing, MOT inspections, the list goes on.
Finally, we provide our members with access to our community of on-demand drivers providing an opportunity to share experiences and tell their stories.