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Interview with door2door

Today we kick off a new series in which we speak one-on-one with innovative start-ups and companies in the mobility sector. Up first are the public transport visionaries at door2door. Read on to hear about how they aim to radically change public transport and what makes the company so unique on the market.

Dr. Tom Kirschbaum, Founder & Managing Director door2door, Copyright: door2door
Dr. Tom Kirschbaum, Founder & Managing Director door2door, Copyright: door2door

Tom, we would be happy to learn more about your founding story: When did you establish your business? What is the idea behind your start-up door2door?

We founded door2door in 2012 with the idea of changing the way we move from door to door and making better use of public transport. We realised back then it wasn’t easy to understand the best way to travel from A to B or to get around in the city. That’s why we developed the ally app, a multimodal transportation app that shows users the fastest or most affordable way from their location to their desired destination, taking into account the entire network of public transportation and other mobility services. The app is available in more than 200 cities worldwide and was deemed “Best App 2015” by Apple.

Since then, our product has matured greatly. We decided it’s time to radically transform public transport into a mode of transportation that runs beyond static routes and fixed schedules. In 2016, we launched our pilot project, allygator shuttle, in Berlin. It’s an on-demand rideshare service that pools passengers with similar routes into one vehicle. OECD studies based in the city of Lisbon have shown that three vehicles of this type of rideshare service can replace 100 private cars in a city, assuming they are embedded into the public transport network.

This is why we offer our software solution to public transport and cities. door2door’s integrated mobility platform includes the rideshare algorithm, a data analytics tool and a multimodal app to connect such services. We empower them to run their own on-demand rideshare services to create ‘on-demand’ public transport that operates according to user preferences and thus eliminates the need for private cars.

Start-ups often create a new working style. Could you please describe your way of working? Do you use for instance flexible working or a special office equipment?

Lots and lots of extras for our employees! We tend to maintain flat hierarchies and a playful atmosphere. Two things are critical to our employee happiness: meaningful work and the idea that we are all in the same boat. In addition, we ensure every employee shares our company values of Ambition, Courage and Empathy. That’s how we built a company with over 70 employees from 20 different countries and offices in Berlin and Porto Alegre, Brazil. We offer equal opportunities to everyone, support non-European citizens in their Blue Card applications and enjoy home-cooked treats from our ‘start-up grandmas’ a few times a week.

Many companies and start-ups in Europe are working on smarter business mobility and more flexible carsharing solutions. Leading providers like DriveNow, Car2Go, Uber or Alphabet, with its carsharing solution AlphaCity, have already established themselves on the market. In addition, suppliers such as mytaxi, HelloFresh and deliveroo are increasingly entering the market. Can you tell us your USP?

Of course: we offer an integrated mobility platform to cities and public transport companies and enable them to run their own mobility platform. And this is truly unique on the market. Unlike Uber or other ridesharing services, we focus on the public sector and don’t want to simply put more mobility services on the street. Instead, we empower our partners to operate the services themselves – this allows them to embed the services into public transport infrastructure or offer on-demand services in areas not yet served by public transportation, for example in rural areas. We strongly believe that in this way we can reduce traffic, fight congestion and emissions, and eventually give up private cars to build more liveable spaces.

In addition, we offer all tools necessary to launch such new services: from the Rideshare algorithm to user and driver apps, a multi-modal routing app that connects all forms of new and existing transport and, lastly, a data analytics planning tool that identifies gaps in the current public transport infrastructure.

Copyright: door2door
Copyright: door2door

door2door believes that when public transport and other mobility options effectively meet citizens’ demands, privately owned cars will no longer be desirable. What must be done tomake this vision a reality?

As mentioned above, modes of transportation have to adapt to people’s needs, not the other way around. We want to be able to go anywhere we want, anytime, via the shortest route possible. If you lived in the countryside and had access to a shuttle that would pick up your kids and take them to their afternoon activities, with just one click and at a cost similar to public transportation, would you still prefer to get into your car and drive them yourself? If you lived in the outskirts of the city and had opera tickets for the evening, would you take your car if there was a shuttle to pick you up and drive you home?

Beside new business mobility solutions, e-mobility is also a hot topic. How do you plan to incorporate e-mobility and alternative drive systems?

Autonomous vehicles are going to play a big part in the future of mobility. Our platform is designed to communicate with driverless cars and our programmers are continually working on upcoming trends.

Currently, door2door is available in Berlin and Freyung (Bavaria). When can we expect on-demand public transport to be available in other cities?

Right now we are preparing for a number of launches in cities throughout Germany and Europe. We look forward to sharing more details with you when the time is right!

Thanks a lot for sharing your insights with us. We are certain we’ll hear more about door2door in the future!

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