Sharette is planning to offer car-pooling, which has now really caught on as a way of getting around, to shorter regular journeys, reducing the cost of the daily commute and also helping to alleviate road congestion in the Paris region.

New Paris-based startup Sharette unveiled its proposition at the recent launch of Season 6 of the four-month Le Camping accelerator ‘boot camp’ programme.  Sharette intends to make car-pooling a part of the range of public transport options. However, in contrast to the Blablacar car-share website, which has changed the way people think about tackling a longer distance journey, Sharette’s idea is to give people the option of sharing a car for shorter, regular journeys. The startup has been running its service since last year on the Saclay plateau to the south of Paris, also called the ‘European Silicon Valley’ – which is home to some of France’s leading higher education institutes, including the HEC business school and the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique – where the local market is especially keen on the idea of the collective economy.  The Sharette mobile app is designed to make car-pooling another public transport option, joining the more traditional services such as the metro and the suburban rail network which residents of the Ile de France (greater Paris) region use for their regular daily commute. Moreover, the app applies various algorithms developed by the company in order to minimise journey times across the Paris region.

Simplified car-pooling as a form of public transport

Sharette’s two founders, Hugues Pouillot and Grégoire de Pins, both engineers by training, believe they have come up with a way to help alleviate traffic congestion in the Paris region without the need for massive infrastructure investments. Meanwhile empty seats on car journeys between Paris and the suburbs these days represents a considerable lost opportunity which Pouillot and de Pins are hoping to monetise. They have used the feedback from their initial service in the Saclay area to check and fine-tune the business model. They have discovered for example that when it comes to car-pooling for short distances of around 20 kilometers, users tend to book a ride two or three hours before they need to set off. Pouillot and de Pins say that “using the service in this spontaneous way is a feature of short-distance travel around Paris.” However, a key aspect of the Sharette service is the multi-modal approach. Their technology identifies the places a car is due to pass by, which would-be users can reach easily by other modes of transport, so as to fill the car seats as efficiently as possible and enable the maximum number of people to use the service.

Developing locally before extending the service

The soon-to-be-launched Sharette car-pooling service will cost  €1.70 per journey, whatever the distance covered. The startup’s decision to charge a flat fare is the result of combining various social criteria among the target market in the Paris region. “It’s also a way of telling people that for us car-pooling is another form of public transport, as this is the same price as a metro ticket,” Pouillot points out. Thus Sharette is aiming to slot into the flourishing car-pooling market with a value proposition that places its services in between those of the Blablacar site and an Uber-type instant car service. Sharette has decided not to launch in central Paris as both the taxi and public transport markets there are already saturated. Moreover, in contrast to taxi services, the startup intends to focus on the college campuses and business parks around Paris, which are ill-served by traditional public transport, and forge agreements with the institutes and companies located there. “People aren’t used to taking an Uber to get to work, but that’s the idea behind Sharette,” explains de Pins. By bringing the tariff right down to public transport level and charging a flat fare – a key change to the usual variable pricing basis – Sharette is clearly looking to re-profile car-pooling services.

By Simon Guigue