French startup Heetch has an ambitious goal. The company wants to become the second ride-sharing service in France and in the other European countries where it operates. The startup just raised $20 million from Félix Capital, Via ID, Alven Capital and Idinvest Partners.
In order to stay competitive with Uber, Heetch is a bit cheaper than a normal UberX ride. But drivers still get paid more or less as much on Heetch and on Uber as the startup’s cut is only 15 percent.
This round shows that Heetch’s pivot might be working. The startup first operated as a purely peer-to-peer ride-sharing service. Anybody could become a driver, and there was no restriction on cars.
But a court in Paris forced Heetch to shut down the service back in March 2017. Heetch had already attracted a ton of users (and quite a bit of cash based on multiple sources).
That’s why Heetch started over with a more traditional offering. Now, Heetch only works with professional drivers and accepts rides 24/7. The company will be doubling the engineering team and launching in London with today’s funding round.
Heetch is currently available in 10 cities in 5 different countries — France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Morocco. In Casablanca, the company has chosen to partner with 19 taxi syndicates and give them access to Heetch to accept rides from a phone.
“We’re just about to add ‘boosts’ when demand is too high,” co-founder and CEO Teddy Pellerin told me. “But it’s different from Uber’s surge pricing. If the passenger doesn’t want to pay, they’ll have to wait or get a bit lucky. Also, the 15 percent driver commission only applies to base price. Drivers get 100 percent of each boost.”
Heetch isn’t the only Uber challenger in France. Chauffeur-Privé, Le Cab and Taxify are also all trying to take on Uber. But Pellerin told me that it looks like Heetch is currently getting more downloads in the App Store compared to all those challengers based on recent App Annie data. Heetch doesn’t pay for any download ad.
So it’s clear that Heetch wants to fight back and prove that it’s more than a peer-to-peer ride-sharing app that had to shut down. Now let’s see if the company can transform short-term growth into long-term users as the French market seems more crowded than ever.