Yesterday was the last day of a remarkable year in many aspects. COVID-19 surely changed the way we look at things we have taken for granted, like getting together in large groups, dining out, hugging people, travel without preparations and required covid tests, and things like lockdowns, quarantine, QR codes and WFH have become part of life.
Despite the impact on what we considered normal just 2 years ago, it is inspiring to see how well people cope with it, think about impact of own actions on others, and trying to find other ways to share. The Drive lah community has seen hosts and guests taking extra care of health by sanitising cars regularly and following the guidelines set to be safe. WFH meant that cars were idle even more, and our community has taken this as an opportunity to make cars available for sharing more.
Looking back on 2021 from a business perspective it is been a rollercoaster with many highs and a few stressful situations. Let’s have a look at some key highlights and a glimpse into the new year.
Integration of Smove
We started the year well with the integration of Smove. We gave their customers a warm welcome to the Drive lah family and some former Smove employees came on board to kickstart the tech integration and get our on-ground operations to the next level.
Closing our $3.2M pre-A funding round
We welcomed fantastic investors in Q2 that gave us the needed fuel to continue our strong growth path in Singapore, strengthen our product and expand overseas. KFC Ventures led the round. Existing investors HH Investments and Accelerating Asia participated in the round as well in addition to angel investors from home and abroad including industry expert and entrepreneur Robin Chase, former CEO of Zipcar and author of Peers Inc.
Going Down Under with Drive mate
Launching in a new country was not expected to be a walk in the park, but we are proud that we did it. We are live and have completed our first 50 trips. The market dynamic in Australia is different from Singapore, and that means we are learning things every single day. There is a long way to go, but we clearly see that the potential is huge. That is not just about demand, but also the opportunities that come from current offerings in the market and the way the game is played.
Lockdown and uncertainty impacted travel
The lockdown in Q2 and the uncertainty about when we get back to normal was a blow to overall market demand for travel. We saw cancellation rates skyrocket soon after the announcement of the new lockdown in Singapore. It did impact demand for some time, and especially the uncertainty about what was to come in the next few months had us revise our operations and marketing plans. We encouraged people to refrain from non-essential travel and to abide by health and safety guidance, while also encouraging our hosts to support essential mobility in their communities as safely as possible. Our customer ratings remained excellent even during this challenging period, which is something we are particularly proud of.
Business bounced back
The second half of 2021 saw business bounce back stronger than ever. Our community grew faster than ever before with more hosts coming on board, more customers trying our service, a higher frequency of existing users and our customer ratings on Trustpilot remained at an excellent level. Initiatives we took in the first half to improve our offering so that we would be ready when demand picked up again paid off. Our photography program was rolled out to more than 250 hosts and our Grab partnership was ready to set off in July.
Home delivery of cars in Singapore
Towards the end of the year we launched something that we believe will change the game: cars delivered to and your home and picked up after the trip for just $20.
Hosts’ response has been really good – over 250 cars can be delivered to your doorstep in Singapore. We are able to do this at scale because of the community of hosts that are willing to deliver at a minimum cost. See below how we created awareness of this feature among our users.
Drive lah to cater to international travellers
Being interviewed by Channel News Asia brought us our first customer from Singapore taking a trip in Australia. We are sure that when travel opens up further that more and more people that travel to Australia will make use of our service.
Drive lah on track
We are on track to deliver on our plans for this year to accelerate our growth. We foresee a year of uncertainty with Omicron and possible new variants that pop up in 2022. However, high vaccination rates in many parts of the world and the learnings over the past two years, gives us hope that governments take sensible actions on restrictions in movement.
Our expanded team is strong in the core to continue to improve our product and experience for our customers. We are working on a few initiatives to add more value to our users, which we will announce when the time is right. We look forward to working with all host and guests that are part of the Drive lah family and welcome new members both in Singapore and Australia.
We wish you a spectacular 2022! May it bring health and happiness to you and your families.
Dirk-Jan & Gaurav