Car Access Over Car Ownership: Backing finn.auto to Make Mobility Fun and Sustainable

White Star Capital
Dec 7, 2020 · 6 min read

by Nick Stocks, Alex Wilson and Duc Nguyen

TL;DR: We’re excited to lead finn.auto’s €20m Series A round, the German car subscription platform hoping to change car ownership for good

Acquiring a car is a pain, be it purchasing, leasing or renting. We know all too well the stereotypical offline dealership experience. Too much choice and too little trust. Too many forms and too little transparency. The jargon, the large upfront and also the small hidden costs. More often than not, consumers leave the dealership worn out with a hole in their pocket from purchasing a not so perfect car, or sometimes without a car at all. It is estimated that 99% of car shoppers begin their car buying journey expecting it to be a hassle, and with the innovation to date with online channels, now 70% of recent buyers have purchased a car online, or would consider doing so in the future [1].

The hassle of car ownership doesn’t end after the purchase. Owners have to deal with the maintenance, servicing, taxes, insurance and the financing costs, as well as any unexpected repairs. The typical car owner underestimates not only the financial costs, but the effort required too, often spending over €400 a month, in addition to any down payments required. Then what happens when the car is no longer needed? If the car is owned, it has to be sold, another process to think about. If it is leased, there could be hefty penalties, if ending the lease early is even an option.

So it’s not surprising that there’s a huge shift in attitudes away from car ownership and towards car access, particularly with millennials and those living in dense urban areas where car-sharing and micro-mobility options are now available. This however is not always feasible, and many consumers still prefer the convenience of ownership despite the expenses, which has been highlighted even further by the COVID-19 pandemic. These consumers are forced to settle with this poor, expensive and outdated experience, that provides limited opportunities to be more environmentally conscious and to think sustainably.

Source: Shift from Ownership to Access Is Shaping the Future of Automotive

Enter finn.auto

As investors we have viewed this sector as one in dire need of disruption for some time now. In Germany today there are 42m households, where statistically every one of these households owns at least one car, which to us represents a €200bn opportunity [2,3]. So when we met Max-Josef in the Summer of 2020, we were certain we’d found the team to solve this problem at a global scale.

After previously co-founding and successfully exiting his last start-up Stylight, in the consumer e-commerce space, Max-Josef spent some time investing and advising other aspiring entrepreneurs in Germany, but still remained hungry to return to the entrepreneurial boxing ring to solve a problem he was truly passionate about. Identifying car ownership as one of the largest consumer markets globally, but also one that was undergoing a seismic shift given how unhappy he and many other consumers are with the current experience, Max-Josef founded finn.auto, with his co-founders Max Beyer, Andreas Wixler, Jurgen Lobach, Maximilian Wuhr, Nikolai Schroeder and Hans-Peter Ringer, who together bring a vast amount of experience in not just technology, but vehicle management too.

Through finn.auto’s website, consumers can subscribe to a car for a 1, 6, 12 or 24-month term, paying one monthly fee, and have the car delivered to their front door for an additional €99. Included in this single monthly fee are all the costs associated with owning the vehicle (except fuel). There are no significant upfront costs, lower commitments and much less hassle. Not only this, but at the core of finn.auto’s mission, is the belief that driving can be both carefree and sustainable. Finn.auto offers a full range of electric and hybrid options, and also offsets the CO2 emissions of all its vehicles too.

Behind this seemingly simple subscription, is a complex supply chain involving deep relationships with OEMs and financing partners, and operational prowess akin to that of a surgeon, enabling them to offer a 1st class consumer experience at an affordable price. In only 12 months, they have sold over 1,000 subscriptions, with less than 30 employees. The speed, diligence and focus the entire team has shown to date has been incredible.

White Star Capital’s Track Record with Subscription Businesses

Through the convenience, flexibility and value-for-money they offer, we have seen subscriptions change many areas of daily life. From the consumption of music and media to how health is managed, to even how we get our nappies! One of our earliest partnerships in this space was with Mike at Freshly, who had the vision to use the subscription to revolutionise dinnertime. Since then, we have partnered with several other founders harnessing the power of the subscription, including Kevin & Dave at Butternut Box who had the same idea but for our beloved dogs, Robin healing healthcare at Parsley Health and Roger & Steve bringing pharmacies to our front door with Echo. We believe there are still major parts of our lives where the experience could be massively improved by the benefits of a subscription, and the car is very much at the top of this list.

Car subscriptions are only a few years old, but 1 in 4 consumers are already aware it exists, a much steeper growth in awareness than ride-hailing or car-sharing, and 1 in 10 consumers said they would choose a car subscription over purchasing their next vehicle [4]. The solution is clear, and as awareness builds, we believe car subscriptions will eventually become a preferred option for consumers everywhere and we believe finn.auto are positioned to become a global leader in the space.

Alongside the recent release of our deep dive into the mobility space, we are pleased to announce that we have led finn.auto’s €20m Series A round, alongside new investors Rubin Ritter, David Schneider and Robert Gentz, the co-founders of Zalando, Europe’s largest online fashion platform, and current investors HV Capital, Heartcore Capital, Picus Capital and UVC Partners. This is just the beginning for Max-Josef and the team, and we’re looking forward to working with the entire finn.auto family to make mobility fun and sustainable!

[1] Global Subscription E-Commerce Market is expected to reach US$ 478 Bn by 2025|CAGR: 68%| UnivDatos Market Insights

[2] Germany Country Factfile, Euromonitor

[3] KBA

[4] Shift from Ownership to Access Is Shaping the Future of Automotive

About White Star Capital

White Star Capital is a global multi-stage technology investment platform that invests in exceptional entrepreneurs building ambitious, international businesses. Operating out of New York, London, Paris, Montreal, Toronto, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, our presence, perspective, and people enable us to partner closely with our Founders to help them scale internationally from Series A onwards.

Find out more about how we venture beyond at www.whitestarcapital.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.