123 Transporter filling the market gap
Since launching in early 2020, the Austrian station-based transporter-sharing provider, 123 Transporter has successfully secured its place in the market and is on a fast road to expansion. As the first online accessible transporter-sharing provider in Lower Austria, the company has scaled its fleet to 119 transporters, with another 650 to be added by 2023. Since December 2022, 123-Transporter has scaled it’s offering beyond their home turf in Austria, to now serve the German market as well, by launching their operations in Cologne.
Matthias Pajek, CEO and one of the five founding members, spoke with us about how the initial business idea came about, and the opportunities/challenges that followed thereafter.
The founding story was rooted in a market supply-and-demand gap. Pajek wanted to rent a van for private usage in his hometown in Lower Austria. However, at the time, there was only one provider in the area with a waiting time of over two months for the next available rental. Pajek saw this gap as an opportunity, and that’s how 123 Transporter was born.
Rapid scaling with fleet partners
By the end of 2020, the 123 Transporter co-founders, realized that it would take a lot more capital and resources to be able to scale the business. To scale sustainably, the next step for them was to establish a fleet partner model. Given the similarity to Flixbus’s business concept, their internal mission statement became “to become the Flixbus of van rental”.
The fine-grained network of fleet partners enabled a separation of competencies in the on-/offline areas of the business. The purchase, insurance, operation, and maintenance of the vehicles became the sole responsibility of the partners. While 123 Transporter employees could focus on enhancing the customer rental journey (e.g., tracking vehicle positioning, utilization patterns, and optimizing service availability).
The other fleet partner network’s advantage was that 123 Transporter’s customers could benefit from the resulting wider service area and greater fleet size. Making the vans available at usage hotspots in cities, metropolitan regions, and even rural areas (such as Neunkirchen), with plans to soon scale from the current 21 stations in Lower Austria to Upper Austria, and Bavaria.
The transporter rental use case
For 123 Transporter, ‘becoming the Flixbus of van rental’ didn’t only boil down to the adoption of a fleet partner network, but it also meant being dedicated to enhancing the transporter rental service and customer journey. Simply copying a rental scheme, like that of car rentals, would not fit the special needs of the transporter rental business. The use-case makes the difference here. “A car provides mobility – a van is a rolling service”, says Matthias Pajek. The customer- and transporter-centric approach makes for 123 Transporter’s unique characteristics, primarily meaning two things:
- Damage handling: damages up to a certain amount are free of charge,
- Availability: transporters should be easily available wherever people move – including to rural areas.
To successfully serve these specific needs, improve customer experience, and free up the team’s resources, a digital solution for locking and unlocking of transporters was needed.
The need for a scalable and reliable tech stack
To lock and unlock the transporter, a key box was attached to the outside of the vehicles. This was accessed by a PIN code that the customer received via phone, from the 123 Transporter team prior to the start of the rental. Every two weeks, in sync with the cleaning cycle, the PIN numbers for the boxes were changed. In the long-term, however, this was neither a safe nor practical process.
In 2021, this headache set the founders off on a search for a reliable digital solution. That’s when they learned about INVERS.
“The fact that INVERS is based in Europe and is a global market leader, added an extra sense of security for us” – Matthias Pajek, CEO
With INVERS’s telematics solution, CloudBoxx, they were able to easily turn their transporters into a connected and sharing-ready fleet, which enabled:
- remote vehicle lock/unlock
- remote vehicle immobilization
- precise vehicle GPS tracking and monitoring (evaluating customer behavior and usage geography hotspots)
- deep data insights (such as: utilization rate, damage detection, etc.)
For 123 Transporter having a connected fleet meant:
- a smoother customer rental experience
- a more efficient internal operations process (elimination of need for PINs send-out, easy storage of employee access permissions/driver’s licenses)
- easier and faster scaling with different transporter brands and models
Damage detection in transporter rentals
The most common use case for transporters is moving furniture and other heavy items, which often leads to vehicle damage. What makes 123 Transporter stand out from its competitors (USP) is that damage up to a certain value is already covered. “That’s simply what the vans are there for – to be used,” says Pajek. Possible scratches and dents on the van should not be a worry for the drivers.
However, for the detection of larger crashes, the software solution from INVERS is very helpful. More than half of all damages involve the exterior mirrors of the vans. Typically, these happen when vehicles are parked. The damage detection feature allows 123 Transporter to address and discuss these incidents with clients, if necessary.
123 Transporter – A shared mobility champion powered by INVERS
Be it contactless rental, usage monitoring to find hotspots, or damage tracking: “Our business model would not have been viable at all without INVERS sharing tech solution”, says CEO Matthias Pajek, summarizing the collaboration between 123 Transporter and INVERS.
In short: We are happy to be the technological backbone of another shared mobility champion and assist them on their journey to a digitalized VaaS business!