Bay Area's car-sharing service Getaround won the TechCrunch Disrupt award this week, beating out 32 other startups for the top prize. In addition to bragging rights, free press, and taking home the Disrupt Cup, Getaround pocketed a $50,000 check.
Now touted as the AirBnB of car sharing, Getaround lets anyone list their car for rent by the hour. Members use the Web site or newly released iPhone app to request use of a vehicle, and owners approve requests individually. Getaround generated a lot of publicity earlier this year when word spread that an owner posted her on the car share site.
The startup debuted its proprietary Getaround CarKit at the conference, which provides keyless remote technology to access vehicles, along with tracking and reporting features. The peer-to-peer car service doesn't require a membership fee, and like other car sharing services, auto insurance is included in the hourly rental fee. Getaround provides 24-7 roadside assistance, but gas is the car renter's responsibility.
Privately owned vehicles are driven only 8 percent of the time, according to Getaround. The large inventory of idle cars presented a business opportunity to match car owners wanting to make a buck to carless drivers who need wheels to, um, get around. The company takes care of all transactions, and receives a portion of the revenue.
Getaround is operating in beta mode in San Diego and the Bay Area with more than 240 car owners and approximately 1,600 renters currently active in its system. There is a backlog of 1,500 car owners nationwide waiting to use the service when it becomes available in their area. ZipCar has a rental fleet of 8,000 vehicles around the country. Techcrunch reported that many of the Disrupt judges wished they had invested in the startup. Getaround also won the Audience Choice award at Disrupt NYC.