Midrive, an app and marketplace working to revolutionise first time drive and insurance, is currently raising £1.8m to scale the company. We spoke to chairman David Norris about new partnerships, building an experienced team, and plans for the future.
Can you tell us a bit about Midrive?
Most of us remember learning to drive, it’s a rite of passage. You probably remember the car you learnt in, your instructor and your driving test. Maybe not, but you definitely remember passing your test. My Mum tried to teach on an airfield and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the clutch control. Pretty soon I was with an instructor, in a white mini, which was pretty tight for a 6’5” guy. But I’ll never forget the feeling of passing my test. Freedom! Well almost, I still had to ask for keys to my Mum’s car.
At Midrive, we are reinventing the first time driving experience for the digital generation. Finding a driving instructor often involves phoning around or getting recommendations from friends, then you pay for lessons and hope to practice driving in between. However, not much has changed in the last 30 years and the result is that only 53% of people pass their test first time and those that do pass, aren’t necessarily confident or safe drivers: 1 in 5 crash in the first 6 months. With smartphones and cloud based technology it is now possible to connect learners with tried and tested instructors and learn quickly through structured feedback.
Your team are experienced and come from a number of household names. How has this helped you to establish the business?
Our team bring a wealth of experience relevant to building this new learning ecosystem.
Our CEO Asher was named Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. He knows about building digital products for the millennial generation. Prior to Midrive, he was General Manager at Moneysupermarket and led the Group's fourth company, OnTrees.com, a fintech helping young people save on finance and insurance.
Our FD Lambro was formerly at KPMG and has since transformed into a startup specialist having worked with Wonderbly, the fast growing company who produce the “Lost My Name” children’s book, famously at the time the highest ever valued company being funded on TV’s Dragon’s Den.
Our CTO Alex has in-depth experience in Artificial Intelligence, giving us an edge in building the algorithms needed to optimise our matching. His team are fully self-sufficient building out our apps, websites and back office tools.
One thing that unites us all is a passion to improve the experience for learners. In fact, one of the reasons the founding investors, Holiday Extras, got involved was because their founder, Gerry Pack, has a passion for safer driving. He saw Midrive ‘as a crusade to contribute towards making roads safer and backed the project’.
You are in a very competitive market, how does Midrive stand out from the crowd?
Our competitive edge is that our apps and website compliment each other in a coherent way to improve the overall experience for our users.
Here’s what we offer to our customers:
Our learner app (rated 5 stars) helps learners and parents receive structured feedback and lesson reports, as well as allowing them to buy top up lessons
Our theory app helps learners develop knowledge quickly
Our anytime insurance app helps learners buy insurance to practice in any car without affecting the owner’s no claims bonus
Our instructor app helps instructors schedule lessons, and create feedback and lesson reports on the move
Our website and back office platform helps learners find a great instructor, quickly. All of these interfaces are based on our own proprietary technology
The second competitive long-term advantage is that we are building relationships with learners in a way that traditional driving schools are unable to do. That’s because traditional schools feed customers to the instructor and then lose touch with them; they are lead generators for instructors and have very little to do with the learner experience after booking. We however, through our apps, are part of the learning experience and beyond. We are building an audience including young people coming of age, so will be able to offer other services and products after the initial purchase, for example, we’ve recently launched our new driver insurance. Buying a car and financing are areas we will also explore in the future.
You've recently announced partnerships with The AA and BSM, can you tell us more about these?
Talking of traditional driving schools, we have recently announced a new partnership with The AA. As a household name, they receive many lesson enquiries and where they can’t find a match for students with instructors due to locations or times, they’ll refer them on to Midrive.
The large volume of leads from these brands provides a new acquisition channel for Midrive. It also speaks to the value these well-known brands see in the technology we have built and the quality of our instructor base, adding tremendous market credibility to our brand.
This partnership is a HUGE win for us as it will help our business to scale rapidly in 2018. It’s also an opportunity to explore how we can deepen our relationship over time.
How do you plan to use the funds from your Crowdcube campaign?
We’ve built a great product, we’ve got good unit economics, and it’s now time to scale. With the funds raised we will continue building out our product for an amazing customer experience. Plus, we’ll invest in marketing for sustainable growth.
Your Mum taught you to drive. As a parent, will you use Midrive?
With four children of my own, it won’t be long before they learn to drive. I want them to learn well and to be safe and so I will definitely not be attempting to teach them. I’ll be there for the practice sessions, but as for teaching I’ll leave that to an expert. I’m really thankful that my children will have Midrive on their side when they set out on the open road.
We’re hosting an investor meetup at MiDrive HQ on Thursday 15 March from 6.30pm.
Our senior team will be there to meet investors and share more about our exciting plans. We’d like to see as many you as possible, so whether you have invested already, are planning to invest or are just interested - we’d love to meet you all. Beer, wine, soft drinks and light snacks will be served.
Note: Photo ID will be checked at the door. Please make sure the name on your registration matches your identification document. Since confidential information will be discussed, it’s important we know only invited investors are in the audience.
Find out more and invest by visiting the Midrive pitch page here.
Investments of this nature carry risks to your capital. Please Invest Aware.