Nicolas Brusson

BlaBlaCar’s Financing Trend

This article is written by Mohammad Eslim, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

Nicolas Brussonis the Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of BlaBlaCar. Prior to becoming Chief Executive Officer in October 2016, Nicolas oversaw BlaBlaCar’s global operations and international growth. As Chief Operating Officer, he led the company’s corporate development, overseeing eight acquisitions, expansion to twenty markets, and three successive rounds of fundraising.

I’m sure finding the right mix of members isn’t easy to make a team that shares your visions, believes, motivation and experience isn’t a piece of cake. It is hard and you might find yourself hiring and firing people frequently. However, it’s not the hardest challenge you might face doing startups.

You think you’ve got it all covered and everyone is ready to build up that company you worked hard planning and studying cases and products for it to happen. Well, wait until you see the financing challenge. Because after building that team and designing your product, financing issues are much harder than you think and it takes time and ideas to solve them.

BlaBlaCar didn’t do as what was expected of other companies to do when facing the finance problems, what they did was something new in a sense that only Germany was familiar with. The challenge initially is that you pitch a business concept but can’t demonstrate it in a market size, as you can’t say how many people can do that, which made it pretty hard for BlaBlaCar’s team in 2009 to convince investors that the market is pretty big and that the company is actually going to work.

The first feedback that came to the company from a lot of people is that they will be lucky if the company can have a hundred thousand people in France do it. Which is quite disturbingly happening to new startups almost all the time. But the team didn’t give in and started to build and grow the company and that’s an important point we should take lessons from, when you create something new a lot of people will try to discourage you but all you have to do is to focus on the goal you want to reach and finally succeed.

Experience and knowledge get you through hard situations, that’s what Nicolas Brusson had, as was a venture capitalist himself in Silicon Valley. He studied closely the reasons many companies fail in the last years and he found out that the companies don’t fail because of competition or somethings like that.   

Sometimes you might fail because you don’t have enough scale, or you aren’t fast enough. Or the most common reason is that you ran out of cash and this is where they started finding solutions for them to fund raise early and how to find early believers in the company and fund raise early to make sure the company has enough gas to run faster and further. That was quite hard because there was only three small communities in France, they didn’t have any business model, no revenue but what they had was a good team.

And despite these conditions, this incredible team managed to land a 10 million fundraise from Accel three years ago when Accel was not like a revenue and had attraction with construction of users but they really backed the potential of scaling all that over Europe and that’s what BlaBlaCar had done in the next few years. So what made the company hard to be rejected is because when they pitch they go for targeted relationships with guys like Accel and didn’t just follow usual process and always kept fundraising.   

─ July 24, 2019