Cleantech Disruptors — An interview with Fabio Mereu, Founder of Playmoove and Co-Founder of Playcar

Cleantech Disruptors is a series of interviews showcasing innovative cleantech startups, who through the development of disruptive technologies are changing the future.

Playmoove is an end to end white label mobility sharing solution. If you have an idea for a mobility business, Playmoove’s tech can turn it into an business, and quickly! They are one of the EUSP2020 top 50 startups in mobility, and are still a privately owned 10 person business founded and run in sunny Sardinia.

I chatted to Fabio Mereu, Founder of Playmoove and Co-Founder of Playcar, and also had a brief chat with Riccardo Scasseddu their CTO about the inspiration for the business, how they are disrupting the transport industry and how they allow entrepreneurs to go from idea to fully operational in a matter of weeks!

So Playcar and Playmoove, how did they come about?

In 2011 I had an idea to start a car sharing platform in my little city of only 150,000 citizens! At this time only big cities had car sharing due to the regulations and legislation. Playcar started a cultural movement in Cagliari away from private cars through adopting car sharing as a way of life. This model was so successful that Playmoove was born. The concept replicates Playcar but in a white label solution which other cities can adopt. Cities can adopt the platform, but customise it to fit the city, its citizens, culture, and size.

You’ve have achieved this with so few people in such a short space of time!

Yes, it’s hard to believe we are still only 10 people, and are still 100% privately owned and already have 10 global customers.

What was the inspiration?

My family has been in the transportation industry for over 100 years! Public buses, rent a car, cars with drivers etc. I was born into transport and have a passion for technology, so I mixed the two and followed the tech road supporting the transport sector.

Can you tell me a bit more about the product and how it all works?

We offer an all-encompassing white label solution which allows our partners to set up and launch a sharing platform at scale, at pace and with ease. For example, we can send 100 branded scooters and 50 branded bikes, integrated into the platform, and an app as a bundle ready to launch.

We now have 60 types of hardware integrated into the platform, meaning we have an ecosystem which fits each city we partner with. The blend of hardware from the best manufacturers creates a beautiful result for the end user who can rent all types of vehicles, and find where to charge and where to park all from one app.

The white label Playmoove solution

How does this help the communities in which you operate?

It helps to create a strong local economy, through providing the data needed to continuously improve the transport network, creating jobs, and driving social responsibility in the city. We have now seen this across the globe from Luxembourg to Buenos Aires.

Although technology is key to making a sharing platform work, we never overlook the need to understand the city and that’s why we believe the perfect model is for us to provide the tools and for a local operator to run the business. This solution covers all aspects of mobility: vans, trucks, scooters, bikes, smart parking, charging etc. One subscription which covers every aspect of mobility in your city.

We also offer charging stations and smart parking — within the app you can search for free spaces which significantly reduces fuel / power consumption and emissions by reducing time ‘space hunting’. We have huge respect for the environment, so protecting it is a fundamental part of our business. Sardinia is a little paradise and part of the inspiration was thinking of ways to keep it that way!

Disrupting the industry / which industries and how? What problem are you solving?

We are changing the way people move, which in turn changes the culture of a city. We allow small companies and even cities to enter a business which isn’t normally accessible to them due to high financial barriers. We love that we can support some younger entrepreneurs who without a platform may not be able to enter the mobility space.

We have also changed the landscape of the ‘rent a car’ and the corporate car sharing models through utilising technology to simplify the model, increase efficiency, reduce the number of vehicles required and reduce the cost. For corporate car sharing our algorithm takes all of the journey information from dates to size to distance and assigns the best vehicle in the fleet for the specific requirement.

What’s next?

A lot of R&D! More development in smart parking, autonomous vehicles… car sharing will no doubt change the taxi system once we have autonomous vehicles. We continuously research ways in which we can improve mobility services and solutions in cities around the world.

We are also really excited to expand the white label offering to more companies and cities around the world, allowing citizens to own their own mobility services. We continue to develop the platform and every new feature is rolled out to all partners allowing them each to benefit from the learns of the others. We want them all to have a beautiful and flexible ecosystem which evolves with the needs of their communities!

After a wonderful conversation with Fabio I also had a great chat with Riccardo, the CTO responsible for the product which is built entirely in house.

Why do you love working for Playmoove?

I love that everything we build in the platform is replicated for every customer. Each new feature of improvement request is rolled out to all which is a win win for the platform and our partners, allowing them all to experience the full power of Playmoove. It’s also a completely open API allowing them to take ownership of any aspect they want.

How’s the journey been so far?

I was there when we wrote the first line of code, for the first reservation, and for all of the ups and downs along the journey. I love innovating the solution, finding the answers to tricky problems, and making sure our customers love it too. Every day brings a new challenging, building a new feature, developing algorithms and rolling them out to our customers around the world. Sometimes I find it crazy, that we are 10 people in a little city on an island in Italy creating a product which is used all over the world — we are the proof that it can be done!

Avid Traveller. Sustainability Advocate. London based Recruiter. Sustainability and Cleantech Writer. Cyclist. Muay Thai Enthusiast.