July 19, 2024

Cars are great — until they break down, or need a service, or a roadworthy test. Then owning one can be a bit of a headache.

Ricard Guillem knows this all too well. The 19-year-old from Barcelona grew up in a family of auto dealers and servicers. Guillem — who “was born with a phone in my hand,” as he puts it — felt that the family business was, for lack of a better word, outdated.  

“So many sectors have been disrupted by technology — Netflix with movies, Uber with taxis, Deliveroo with food delivery. But nothing like this really exists for maintaining or fixing your vehicle,” Guillem tells me. 

That was the inspiration for Cafler. In 2021, at just 16-years-old, Guillem co-founded the tech startup to make car ownership less of a hassle.

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“The idea was to design a platform where car users could access anything they could possibly need at the click of a button,” he says. 

Cafler customers can order a driver to pick up their car from home, work, or even the gym. The driver then takes it to get serviced, repaired, washed, or refuelled. The company can even handle the paperwork for fines or change of ownership.  

The startup has an app, but most of their business comes through over 100 partners including Tesla, VW, and Mercedes. Select car dealerships or service centres in Spain, France, or the UK (where the company operates), offer Cafler as a value-added service. 

Eyeing growth 

I first came across Cafler at the Valencia Digital Summit last year, where the company won the Startup Competition pitch battle in the Growth category. 

Since then, the company has grown tenfold, says Guillam. Cafler has completed over 100,000 services to date, and has 60 employees spread across offices in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, and London. 

In September, the startup raised a sizeable €8mn in a funding round led by Spain’s Seaya Ventures. While Guillem did not disclose exact financials, he did say that Cafler was now “past the $5million net revenue mark.” 

“For now we are focussed on growth,” he says. “We are planning to expand to news countries in Europe and beyond very soon.”

Cafler is in the process of adding more services to its platform, including offering replacement vehicles, a valet service, and tow trucks in the event of a breakdown. The company has also started leveraging the power of data and — you guessed it — AI. 

 “We have vast amounts of data that we can use to train machine learning algorithms to make tailored suggestions for the user,” explains Guillem.   

For example, the AI knows if it has been raining in your area and that your car might be dirty. Then it will ask: ‘would you like a washing service?’. 

The people who service your vehicle tend to know a lot more about it than you do. This information — from your brake fluid levels to your tire tread — can be used to generate predictive insights. 

“Soon we’ll be able to tell you, more or less, when your car will need new tires or even a new engine before you get stranded on the side of the road,” says Guillem.

TNW is a strategic partner for VDS 2024 which takes place on the 23rd and 24th of October at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. The event, which serves as a meeting point for entrepreneurs, startups, corporations, and investors, is expected to bring together over 2,500 startups, attract over 12,000 attendees from 100+ countries. Super early-bird are available till June 15th – get yours here

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