The Swiss Annik Stucki has decided to exchange her career in the corporate world for a job in a start-up company. She has lived and worked in Paris for a few months and is responsible for the European expansion as Chief Operating Officer at the carpooling specialist Zify. We met her to talk about her motives and the Zify business model.
Hello Annik, we are happy to talk to you about carpooling. But let’s start with a little background to yourself.
Yes, I am originally from Berne, Switzerland, where I completed my Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Berne. After several years of part-time work in the public sector and a short assignment at PwC in auditing, I started a trainee programme at the Swiss Federal Railways SBB. As part of the 18-month program I had the opportunity to work for four months at a startup and by chance landed at the Indian Carpooling Startup Zify in Paris.
I was very quickly enthusiastic about the idea of carpooling and Zify, learned to appreciate the start-up environment – the flexibility, many possibilities, design freedom and creativity in demand, the unbelievable versatility, fast pace and above all extremely much. Not least through Techstars, a start-up support program, where I took part in countless trainings and mentorings and got to know many exciting people. The rest of our team is based in Hyderabad, India, so together with the founder – Anurag Rathor – I had the chance to develop his idea here for Europe and finally hire the first three people in November.
So you switched directly to Zify after the SBB trainee programme?
That’s right, after completing the program, I chose Zify in Paris. My title is “Chief Operating Officer”. That’s what the CEO and Founder calls me, anyway. In other words, I’m responsible for everything that just happens.
I lead the small team of three here in Paris, responsible for the operation and development here in Europe. This ranges from strategy development in Europe to business development, marketing, HR, accounting, fundraising, community management, sometimes even flyers, tweets etc..
Above all, however, bring structure into a chaotic startup, introduce team meetings, develop team culture, coordinate with our team in India, acquire tools. A huge challenge – but above all an incredible experience to work in such a great, innovative, inter-cultural start-up.
Zify was founded in India and is now based in Paris, what is the background?
CEO and founder Anurag Rathor is originally from Hyderabad, India. There he launched Zify 2015. After a successful start in India, last year he decided to venture into Europe and offer a contribution to the mobility of the future with Zify. He is interested in an efficient, ecological form of mobility.
And then he chose Paris, why?
France is one step ahead of the rest of Europe in terms of carpooling, there is awareness and demand, especially over longer distances, has been demonstrated. With Zify, we continue this trend and offer a solution for short and medium distances, especially for daily commuting.
What is your business model?
Zify is based on a commission model, a commission on the price the passenger pays the driver. This is a fixed amount per kilometre that compensates the driver for part of his car ownership cost. Our goal is not to generate additional car trips, but to provide private drivers with an incentive to offer their free seats. Customer benefit is an efficient, cost-effective, comfortable, ecological, flexible form of mobility.
Then why does the customer use Zify?
Because we make carpooling uncomplicated, simple and flexible with our app. Nowadays, carpooling must no longer be an obstacle, but can be integrated into everyday life. A general impact then results in better vehicle utilisation, resource optimisation, fewer emissions, fewer parking spaces required, less traffic and ultimately social networking.
Our success can be seen after a few months: 3 million booked trips, 3000 daily trips, approx. 500 new monthly users. Additionally we are part of Techstars Paris, La French Tech Ticket and Startup Bootcamp Berlin.
“Paris is optimal – the environment is start-up-friendly, there are many accelerator programs and investors.”
Who do you see as your competitor?
Carpooling is widespread in France and competition is fierce. Above all BlaBlaCar comes first – which concentrates on long distances. We do not see ourselves as competitors to public transport, but rather as a complement and believe that the future will bring a much stronger fusion of public and private providers.
We are currently focusing on the markets in India and France. In India, we want to expand our operations and strengthen user loyalty. We can also benefit from the experience from India in France in order to build up a business here as well. With Zify, however, we have a mobility solution that can be used worldwide. We are ready to contribute to efficient and sustainable mobility across Europe. The aim this year is to bring up Series A for this.
“We are the perfect complement to public transport and with carpooling we offer a solution that can be used worldwide”.
What gets you up in the morning?
We share our apartments, books, clothes, taxi, music,… but not our free places in commuter traffic. On average, only one person sits in the car in over 90% of vehicles.
I am firmly convinced that we must also combine in private transport and thus not only make a significant contribution to reducing congested roads, full parking spaces and high emissions, but also promote social exchange and networking.
Why did I decide to leave Corporate World for a job in a small start-up?
I appreciated the opportunities, the stability, the security, the large network in the 33’000 man company. But precisely these solid and well-functioning structures and processes can also be a hindrance, again and again I had to remind myself of the actual goal / purpose of my work.
This is different here – the goal is clear, the enthusiasm and conviction for the startup great, the scope for action huge. We only do what really needs to be done, what helps us forward, there is no time and resources for the inefficient. I appreciate that enormously, again and again I ask myself the question – why am I doing what I am doing? Does it take us any further? No one can take that experience away from me.
Annik, thank you very much for this conversation and we wish you much success with your further growth of the Zify Carpooling platform.