The Challenge of the Sharing Economy
Athlon is a European mobility solutions and car leasing company, which develops innovative, sustainable and cost-efficient mobility solutions. In a time where the sharing economy was gaining traction, Athlon realised that they had to evolve their business, in order to deliver added value to their customers. But how could they do so, in such a traditional, non-flexible industry such as the car industry? The company was very much aware that their traditional culture and policies were set up to avoid risk-taking. Furthermore, the strict guidelines and processes that were in place within the organization made it hard to get new ideas implemented, fast.
The Accelerator Journey
To tackle the challenge ahead, Athlon joined the Corporate Accelerator Program at Innoleaps. Prior to the accelerator, the team did an Innovation Sprint with innoleaps, where they tackled the biggest problems they assumed their customers had.The proposal at the end was this: a simple and flexible mobility solution – a car lease product. After that, they entered a 13-week Corporate Accelerator Program under the name of ChangeMyCar.
During the program the team worked hard on finding out more about their customers, end-users, their car choice, difficulties and problems. Along the way, the focus was shifted from millenials (their B2C proposition) to a B2B proposition. After the customer validation phase, some assumptions were validated and others weren’t.
The Road to Building an MVP
Based on the interviews and experiments, they were able to make a list of important validated hypotheses for both the employers and employees. One of them was that employees wanted to change cars when a life-changing event (such as a newborn, new job or moving houses) occurs. Employers, on the other hand, are looking for an optimal balance between employee satisfaction and mobility cost – but the optimum didn’t seem to exist.
When the team found their problem/solution fit, they started building their Minimal Viable Product (MVP), which was an app that makes you compare and change your lease car on a monthly basis. During the accelerator, the team worked in two-week sprints; they set their objectives for two weeks and showed their progress to their stakeholders after these two weeks. This made sure that they aligned their internal organization on a regular basis.
Overcoming roadblocks along the way
The real challenges for the team started while setting up the flexible lease product on an operational and logistics level. The team did get some pushback from their own organisation (there was anxiety about cannibalization of another Athlon car lease product) regarding ChangeMyCar. The CMC reaction to that was and still is ‘if we don’t build this company, someone else will’, which basically asks the question whether Athlon is prepared to cannibalize itself or whether another company will. Next to that, the Finance department wanted to see numbers and projections, which is almost impossible to do. When is it a success? Does it really say anything?
‘If we set a target at, let’s say, 100 cars leased by employees, which amounts to x euros. That could be one company with 100 cars, or 100 companies with one car but a lot of potential. When do we think it is a success?’ – ChangeMyCar Team
Finally, the CMC team and Athlon were able to close the gap. They developed a strong set of parameters to measure success in the areas: Market-Product-Pricing-Process-IT. These parameters were based on the AARRR model: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue. Looking at the business model, they found out that 40% of lease car drivers (passenger cars) wanted or needed a more flexible product than their current offering. That equals 180.000 cars. They spoke to a group of current Athlon customers about the ChangeMyCar MVP (the first version of the proposition). 80% of those customers saw added value of ChangeMyCar for their employees.
The CMC Team received investment for their product and as a result of the accelerator, spun off a new business (within the organisation of Athlon) that offers flexibility to employee car leases!
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