We talked to Robin Švaříček, CEO at HoppyGo on how the agency helps people rent a car directly from its owner and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Robin Švaříček: My family is doing well despite the difficult times. Thank you for asking. Of course, these times are not easy for anyone – neither in person nor in working life. The pandemic has brought tough limits in almost every business segment and created major challenges for innovations, contact with the customer, business partners and employees. We have seen whole industries coping with the new reality and whatever services could be moved online have indeed shifted into the virtual world. I assume this will be the trend for the coming months and years.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded HoppyGo.
Robin Švaříček: I graduated from the University of Economics in Prague, majoring in Accounting and Company financial management. My career path could be tracked to a program, through which I landed three internships. One of them was in Czech private equity firm Penta Investments, another in KPMG, and lastly one for the multimodal public transportation operator called Leo Express.
I further continued with Leo, eventually stepping into the CFO & COO position, and I was offered the CEO position roughly 15 months ago. And that’s in a nutshell how I got here.
How does your company innovate? And what are some of the results?
Robin Švaříček: Well, first of all, HoppyGo itself is a great innovation in the shared mobility and automotive market.
The summary of it is that HoppyGo users can easily, affordably, and conveniently rent cars for all occasions directly from owners in their neighborhood – and for whatever period, ranging from a day to months. At the same time, HoppyGo allows owners to securely rent cars only to a verified user community. Everything is done using the app, no paper contracts, and each rental is insured. Of course, we continue to innovate the service and platform, adding new features and improving user experience.
By now, you can probably spot my enthusiasm. And the truth of the matter is that I think we have an amazing product on our hands. To get a more accurate picture of how we’ve been doing, let me share some recent numbers with you. Last year HoppyGo reached record figures in the Czech Republic, and up to date, we have more than 100,000 customers, about 1,400 car owners with more than 2,000 cars on offer and the service is available practically throughout the whole country – in more than 240 Czech cities, 70/76 districts and all regions.
We had a record summer last year. This can be partially attributed to Czechs spending their vacations domestically. The growth during these times was leaving us speechless on more than one occasion. Overall, we had more than 60% plus Y/Y in terms of the rental days.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Robin Švaříček: We are coping with it quite well, and we are trying to be as helpful as possible. The aim is to ensure our users’ safety and, of course, to help as much as possible to improve the current situation in the Czech Republic. We took part in the #SKODAAUTOpomaha initiative. Together with our parent company ŠKODA AUTO, we have provided more than 200 cars and 150 electric scooters to medical professionals, charitable organizations, municipalities, and volunteers.
Furthermore, we started to offer the possibility of contactless car handover. Also, we set up a preventive hygiene station, where all HoppyGo car owners could come and have their cars disinfected and cleaned free of charge.
On the business front, many customers turned to the platform in search of an affordable way to get into individual mobility (which is the safest way to travel at the moment). And even B2B activity took off as companies had all of a sudden fleets of unused vehicles just sitting around and saw the possibility of sharing its cars as part of recouping costs.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Robin Švaříček: Sure we had to delay/stop/hold some planned projects due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation and replan some of them for 2021, some even to cancel. But at the same time, this gave us the opportunity to think outside the box and try to find new opportunities with partners who would not see the value before.
Overall 2020 was full of twists and turns, we have managed to deal with or adapt to whatever has been thrown at us and in the process learned a great deal. We have many great projects lined up for 2021, and I can’t wait to get into that.
The biggest lesson learnt is for sure the team’s flexibility and agility, this can only be seen in crisis moments, and I am really proud of each team member, the open-minded approach was a must in the last few months.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Robin Švaříček: I do something I am passionate about, which surely helps a lot. Occasional stress and anxiety do come around from time to time, but one just has to work with that and not let it overpower you.
What helps me is any kind of sports activity, be it biking, running, tennis, ice-hockey or anything else. Fresh air and a little bit a sport that is a winning combination for me.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Robin Švaříček: We don’t have a direct competitor in the Czech Republic, because we are the only service, which offers this type of concept of mobility. Competitors may be classic carsharing platforms or car rentals, but we have a much wider selection of cars (about 2000 from any category/brand).
Your final thoughts?
Robin Švaříček: We believe P2P carsharing will become an integral part of the future car industry equation.
Be that because of ever-growing numbers of vehicles on our roads and cities, the costs of ownership, or simply tightening CO2 restrictions, where our model has a clear answer to the long-term sustainability of individual mobility.
Think about how much you use your personal car and think about a) sharing it with others or b) selling it and using a shared car. For both choices, HoppyGo has a solution for you.