by Gaurav Singhal and Dirk-Jan ter Horst
Gaurav Singhal and Dirk-Jan ter Horst want to grow Drive lah into the largest shared mobility marketplace in Asia Pacific. With a growing community, a team of 30, and $3.2M in pre-series A funding, they’re well on their way.
For Drive lah, the past couple of years have been busy to say the least.
The Singapore-based marketplace for car-sharing has grown from an idea to a marketplace business with a team of 30 employees. The community boasts over 150,000 registered users and nearly 2,000 listings. The website has gone from an MVP to a powerful platform supported by advanced features and iOS and Android apps. In the summer of 2021, Drive lah raised $3.2 million in pre-series A funding.
“When we started working on Drive lah, our biggest objective was to put out a product as quickly as possible,” Gaurav explains.
“You can do endless research. But in the end, the only way you can really validate an idea is to put an MVP out there."
The idea for Drive lah was born out of frustration with the existing alternatives to rent a car in Europe and Asia. Renting from one of the established players was expensive, availability was spotty, and the cars always had to be picked up and dropped off at inconvenient locations. At the same time, the founders saw lots of potential in the sharing economy.
“The world is moving more towards usership than ownership. Not everyone wants to own a car: it’s expensive and lies idle 95% of the time. We saw an opportunity to make cars more accessible, while lowering the cost of ownership for car owners.”
Speed to market was the key reason Gaurav and Dirk-Jan decided to use Sharetribe Flex to bring their idea to life.
“With Flex, the first version of Drive lah was live in a couple of months," Gaurav says.
“We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel – a lot of the features we needed were already there. The Sharetribe team's expertise in marketplaces is baked into the products. Things like online payments and interaction between users were there from day one, which helped us cover our bases before launch.”
In addition to speed, the founders appreciate the support they’ve received from the Sharetribe community.
“Sharetribe’s technical team is excellent, and they were very supportive as our team was building Drive lah – we would talk to them every day. But what was really important was the wider Sharetribe community. It’s almost like a lot of people are building your product despite not being on your team. We’re always exchanging ideas and learning a lot from other companies.”
Gaurav and Dirk-Jan have achieved a lot, growing their company 10x over in just a couple of years. But for them, this is just the beginning.
"Right now, the team is focused on growth, growth, and growth. We’re expanding into Australia, and we want to continue growing our business in Singapore. Long-term, we want to be the largest shared mobility company in Asia Pacific. It’s not just cars – we want to enter into other areas of mobility, and establish a presence in all the major markets.”
Reflecting on the journey so far, the founders offer this piece of advice to those thinking about building a marketplace on Sharetribe:
“The best thing we did was getting Drive lah to market quickly. We spoke to our users all the time, ran experiments, made tweaks to the platform, and continued to improve,” Gaurav says.
“Don’t try to build the perfect product right away. Use Sharetribe to gain an advantage in speed and focus your energies on finding product-market fit as soon as you can.”