Jean-Baptiste Rudelle, the founder and former CEO of French commerce marketing startup Criteo, has just launched a new startup called Less, along with Romain Niccoli, Francis Cohen, and Florent Bouteiller. The fledgling startup has already managed to raise $19 million in a funding round, with the investment coming from two sources — Daphni and Index Ventures.
It’s a pretty decent investment for a company that is so new, and may be taken as a sign of confidence in Rudelle given his track record with Criteo. Less itself is a ridesharing service with a bit of a difference. Rather than hailing a ride through something like Uber, and possibly sharing a ride in this way, Less brings together people who are looking for a ride between two points and pairs them with drivers who are already driving on that route. So for example, when someone is looking for a ride from one side of London to the other, Less would match them with a driver who is making that same journey.
A navigation app is step one
Less isn’t starting out by offering this service straight away, but is instead going to be focusing on developing a navigation app to begin with. The idea will then be that the navigation eventually powers the ridesharing service. To incentivize people to use the navigation app and help develop the user base, Less is offering micro payments to anyone who uses the app, especially if you use the app in places that have out-of-date maps and data. It’s not only the navigation data that Less would like to collect, but also additional data about aspects such as driving times in certain areas and the levels of traffic at certain times of the day.
After the app has been developed, Less will start to enable people to offer rides in their vehicles. It isn’t going to be a taxi-style service akin to Uber, but closer to the BlaBlaCar commuter-based offering BlaBlaLines. The concept of carsharing for commutes might not be a new one, but it is enduringly popular. If Less can create an app that simplifies this process and makes it more readily and widely available then it could be on the path to success.