Ridesharing service Heetch was founded some time ago, but the French startup hasn’t had an easy time of it. A March 2017 ruling by a Parisian court stated that the company had been illegally operating a transportation outfit. According to the ruling, Heetch had employed non-professional drivers to unjustly compete with taxi drivers and chauffeurs operating on platforms like Uber and Chauffeur-Privé. Uber itself has experienced backlash, and was ordered to shut down UberPOP in Paris for exactly the same reason in 2015. Despite that blow. Heetch is bouncing back, and is raising $12 million from Felix Capital, Via ID, and Alven Capital to bankroll a new service.
If someone wants to register as an Uber driver in France, they must acquire a VTC driving license. In doing so, the cities can regulate the competition between such on-demand services and taxis. The system works; no one company has a monopoly, and users can get an efficient service provided by the many thousands of drivers on the road.
The Heetch service that was contested by the ruling earlier in 2017 focused on providing a late-night service between central Paris and the suburbs. Targeted at students living on a budget, Heetch claimed that young people needed an affordable alternative to taxis when returning home from parties. They fought to remain in operation, but when the ruling came the service was closed.
Just six months later, things look quite different for Heetch. Now the company does work with professional drivers — which puts them in direct competition with Uber and Chauffeur-Privé — but they still focus on late-night rides. There’s a cheaper option, too: a carpooling system allows anyone to become a driver. You won’t make any money as a carpool driver, but the idea is that you can find someone to pay for your return trip when you’re driving back home.
With 5,000 professional drivers handling 70,000 journeys every week, Heetch has bounced back from the ruling earlier this year. It takes a 15% cut from its users — less than their competitors — and is expanding across Europe with drivers in France, Belgium, Sweden, and Italy, and more countries are in its sights.
Read more of our articles about advances in public transportation that seek to tackle the problem of pollution in big cities.
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