Start-uppers: Collaborative Consumption and Sharing Economy Interview with Nikiforos Doukas, co-founder of HopIn
In our fast expanding and constantly demanding world, new trends and terms are bound to be introduced. Sharing economy and Collaborative Consumption are two newly emerged terms which we will attempt to explore through the Startuppers’ perspective. In this article we provide the first qualitative interview. We were honored to talk with the co-founder of HopIn, which started 4 years ago and came to Greece 6 months ago. It aims to change the transortation habits of Greek people to solve problems such as traffic. polution etc and introduse the model of carpooling transortation to the Greek market.
- Q: Tell us a few things about your company.
N.D: We are a startup company, named HopIn that is active around 3–4 years now. We tried to trade in the US half a year ago, but we didn’t make it and we returned in Greece 6 months ago.
2. Q: Do you want to tell us a few things about yourself?
N.D: I’m Nikiforos Doukas, the co-founder of HopIn. I studied electronics and computer science in Kings College and Imperial, so I attend to android development and everything else that has to do with a startup company like business development etc.
3. Q: I would like to explain to us what exactly is HopIn.
N.D: It is carpooling. But is it totally different from a taxi company or even Uber, because in our case the driver doesn’t not act like a professional who takes the client from a certain spot and has to drive him to another certain spot. We oblige people that have the same destination and one of them has a car.
4. Q: I want you to distance yourself and tell me what are the characteristics of a startuper?
N.D: A startuper has to have the willing and power to do things that his is not necessarily trained to and be completely out of his comfort zone.
5. Q: Do you think you have those characteristics?
N.D: If I didn’t, I wouldn’t try to succeed in this business.
6. If you could compare a startuper with a certain type of car, which car would you choose?
N.D: I would say with a fast polymorphic car, with emphasis in polymorphic, you know those cars that you can move the seats; you can change things inside etc.
7. Q: What was the idea behind the company? Did you find the team or the idea first?
N.D: The idea of carpooling is very old, but we tried to give it a modern twist through HopIn and acculturate it into the urban lifestyle so that everyone can use it daily. In the future we plan to make HopIn an “on demand” application, something that for now is impossible.
8. Q: As you mentioned before a startup company is not one man show. How important it is to have a good team?
N.D: I think is one of the most important things. Even in the US your team is the first thing that investors are interested about. Usually they investigate team’s track record and diversity.
9. Q: What would you like someone to have so that he can enter your team?
N.D: To love and believe in the idea as much as I do, so that he can fight for it to succeed. Also they should have the willing to work hard to make it work.
10. Q: Knowing how HopIn works do you want to talk us about the problems that exist in our society and your company tries to solve?
N.D: Everything that we all face every day. Traffic, expensive gas, crowded public transportation, pollution because of the amount of cars driven every day. Those are problems that could be solved through HopIn.
11. Q: Can you tell us if financial state in Greece made it easier for you to choose to come back?
N.D: I don’t think I can answer that because is too early. Yes the Greek society in general has helped now, that we are in the beginning, but is too early to evaluate that.
12. Q: Can you tell us a little more about the target group you have set in your company?
N.D: We address more to people between 18 and 35, but without excluding people over 40. The reason why we think those ages suit us more is because people around that age are more familiar with applications and this type of communication. Also we think that this target group faces the biggest problem in transportation.
13. Q: The Business Model HopIn uses in B2C, right?
N.D: Yes, exactly.
14. Q: As a company do you have any income? From advertizing, commission?
N.D: No, for now we don’t. The application is free in both app store and Google play. Also we don’t take any type of commission from our users. In the future we plan to address to private funds, but we have to create a stable base of people to do that, because companies are still scared of the risk B2C based companies have.
15. Q: Collaborative consumption and sharing economy: What those terms mean to you?
N.D: Sharing economy is a misunderstood term. In our company we use this type of economy, because people share consumer staples. The misunderstanding comes from the fact that some intercessor companies take commission for their services, but even if that happens, we still have a win-win situation, because consumers win too.
16. Q: From what you said I understood that you in fact use the model of sharing economy in your company.
N.D: Yes, exactly, because people share their cars. The difference is that we don’t take commission.
17. Q: What are the characteristics of the society that had lead to the outburst of this type of economy you think?
N.D: I think one of them is the economic crisis that is a reason why people try to find ways to decrease expenses. Also another one is the fact that we have regained our trust to people because of the technology and the fact that we can check very easily who is who.
18. Q: Do you think that startups based on this economy model are the future?
N.D: From what I have seen, I absolutely believe that yes.