What’s college experience without that one friend who had a car on campus? They were your ticket to civilization beyond the university bubble – a role that someday soon, no one will have to fill. A startup coming out of Babson called Lula, which means “convenience” in Zulu, is developing an app that enables peer-to-peer car-sharing among college students. The best way to explain it – and commence the self-loathing for saying this – is it’s like Airbnb for college kids’ cars.
Matthew and Michael Vega-Sanz, twin brothers both attending Babson, came up with the premise of Lula when faced with a pizza problem.
These student entrepreneurs hail from Miami, a city supposedly blessed with many-a Papa John’s. When they moved up here for college, they encountered a sad reality: Only Domino’s delivered to their slice of Wellesley.
“We were sick of having Domino’s every single weekend,” Matthew told us. “We looked up where the nearest Papa John’s was and said, ‘Let’s go take an Uber there and get a pizza.’ But the Uber would have been $30. Paying $30 for an $8 pizza didn’t make sense, so we decided to order Domino’s again.”
The magic happened when the Vega-Sanz brothers met the Domino’s deliveryman outside that night. There, they observed a parking lot full of idle cars that could have gotten them off campus to any pizza place they so desired.
They began asking their friends at colleges across the country to see how they got around. Turns out, the students who didn’t have cars on campus were stuck there, while the folks with cars didn’t touch their vehicles on even a remotely regular basis.
“There are schools that have no easy form of transportation,” Matthew said. “So many students are stranded on campus. They can’t go grab groceries or run errands. Meanwhile, so many cars on campus go unused.”
That’s why Michael and Matthew started Lula, an app that will enable peer-to-peer car-sharing among college students. “It’s a win-win. Students can make money while they’re in class, at practice or playing FIFA with their friends,” Matthew told us. “Other students can borrow these cars and have a means to go off-campus.”
Now, a big question that comes mind when mixing college kids with cars: What about insurance? Currently, Lula is in discussions with insurance companies, so all parties involved – both the startup and its app’s users – will be covered. Matthew said whenever car owners are in possession of their vehicles, their own policies will cover the cars. And whenever cars are being rented through Lula, they will be covered under the venture’s insurance.
For Lula, the Verga-Sanz duo is putting a transaction-based revenue model in place. The venture will take a 25 percent commission from every transaction completed through its car-sharing app. Eventually, Matthew said, Lula will also explore advertising and data as supplementary revenue streams.
Over the past three months, Lula has raised $200,000 from investors, which it’s been using for website and app development. Michael and Matthew are in talks with additional investors, so there may be more capital coming their way in the coming weeks. And they’re slating Lula’s launch on the App Store for late February, early March of next year.