We talked with Car Next Door Founder, Will Davies, about the environment, self-development, and what his typical workday looks like.
What was the insight that led to the foundation of Car Next Door?
I decided in my late twenties that I wanted to focus all my energies on reducing CO2 emissions – which I believe is humanity’s biggest problem. I was growing more and more concerned about the way humans are buggering up the environment, from the massive amounts of waste that we produce, to the way we are polluting waters, fishing out the seas, clearing land – it’s a long list. But carbon emissions were top of my list as they have the potential to wreak so much destruction.
I owned a mortgage broking business at the time, but couldn’t work out any possible way to reduce CO2 emissions. I needed a business that would reduce emissions and make a profit. I was already a car share user, so decided it would be much more efficient to use other people’s unused cars instead of buying more to rent out. Car Next Door was born!
One shared car replaces the need for 10 cars to be produced, and half of a car’s carbon emissions are produced when it’s manufactured. Also, people who car share drive 40% less than people who own their own cars, simply because they are paying per use. Think about if you need to go to the shops and pick up milk. If you have already paid all the $4-8k standing costs of owning a car, then it only costs a few cents in fuel to use it for this trip. But if you need to pay $7 to access a car for one hour, then you might consider walking or riding to the shops instead.
How does Car Next Door distinguish itself in this sector of the transport industry?
Really, we have created a whole new sector. We were, and pretty much remain, the only car-sharing company that sources their cars from individuals rather than owning them (like all of our competitors do).
We are the ‘Airbnb of car share’, utilising underused assets that are just sitting around idle, whereas GoGet is like the Hilton hotels – needing to buy a new asset whenever they want to expand.
What angle or competitive edge has the company employed to stand out?
We have much lower capital cost to expand, and we have a wider variety of cars.
Take us through a day in your life. What does the typical day look like?
I love getting in the thick of things, but that’s become too hard now that we’ve grown.
Looking back over the last few weeks I’ve spent the majority of my time:
25%: Meeting with, helping, coaching, and giving my input to key lieutenants, and the team on all the different things that they have on the go.
15%: Recruiting – we’ve had some big positions that need to be filled, so I’ve been heavily involved in that process.
15%: Defining and working on Car Next Door’s strategy so that the team has a clear direction for how we are going to move forward together.
10%: Educating myself further. I’ve made a decision that I need to be continually learning – I do five hours’ learning time a week, I’ve just completed two great online courses: Learning how to learn and a course on public speaking, and have just read a very interesting book called How to Change Your Mind which is about the positive uses of psychedelics.
5%: I actually spend a solid amount of time planning out my week and my days.
This seems like a lot (even to me), but I know that this time ensuring that I’m doing the most important stuff first, is time well spent.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I think that my default (if I don’t watch it) is a pacesetting leadership style – which is not a very good one to adopt once you have more than one to two people – and probably not all that good even then.
What I focus on doing as a leader is trying to employ really smart people in the business, work with them to collectively set a clear vision and strategy about what we want to do and how we want to do it, ensure that everyone has clear goals and plans out their weeks and is accountable to someone who has a weekly accountability meeting with them. Then let people get on with it and try to stay out of the way. My Slack handle is “Ignore me as needed to get your job done.”
What are your short and long-term goals for the company?
In the short term, we are working hard to move from a high-growth, high-burn business towards breakeven. In these uncertain times with COVID, it’s a risky time to be trying to fundraise! Over the next few years, our plan is to make Car Next Door people’s go-to website for whenever they want to book a car. We are going to have the best, most convenient selection of cars in Australia. We think we’ve only just scratched the surface of the opportunity.
Our mission is to free people and the planet from the ‘one person, one car’ mentality. Our aim is that when someone is considering their next car purchase, they instead decide that they don’t need to buy a car, because they can easily access a range of cars from just around the corner, saving them money, but also greatly reducing emissions.
Vital Addition presents this ‘Meet a CEO’ series.
Vital Addition is a fast-growing Australian tax and accounting company providing fresh, honest, and reliable accounting, financial, and tax advice. CEO Lachlan Grant believes in ‘strength in numbers’, empowering SMEs to make business decisions with confidence, and face the challenges associated with growth with informed optimism.