OpenCar plays the free local carpooling game in Grenoble

sep article

Notre indépendance c

FOCUS – Ecologic, free, user-friendly and road safety ; such are the concepts of this innovative project, by three young student-entrepreneurs at the IAE in Grenoble. They have just launched the OpenCar website, catering to everyone in Grenoble. Its originality ? Being the first 100% free carpooling platform in France.




Les fondateurs d'OpenCar, la première plate-forme gratuite de covoiturage local.

The three foun­ders of OpenCar. From left to right, Lucas Durand, François Fantin and Paul Feipeler. © DR

Is free local car­poo­ling pos­sible ? Thanks to the OpenCar plat­form, this ori­gi­nal and inno­va­tive pro­ject became a rea­lity on 12th April, after a year and a half of work. A suc­cess for François Fantin, Lucas Durand and Paul Feipeler, the crea­tors of OpenCar.


These three young student-entre­pre­neurs from the Institut d’Administration des entre­prises (IAE) in Grenoble have filed their sta­tute as a sim­pli­fied joint-stock society (SAS).


“Road safety, user-friendly, free and eco­logy, are concepts that guide us every day,” explains François Fantin, pre­sident of OpenCar and Master 2 student in ‘Entrepreneurship and small busi­ness advice’. “The site will be free for eve­ryone, except for the part­ners. We think there is a future in this kind of social concept,” he said.




A goal of 8,000 users



Bearing values to improve the future of the Metropolis, this pro­ject addresses very concrete pro­blems : pol­lu­tion, traf­fic, over­night trans­port defi­cit and a lack of soli­da­rity bet­ween the inha­bi­tants, among others. Topics consi­de­red from an entre­pre­neu­rial pers­pec­tive. “In 2014, in our social eco­nomy and soli­da­rity course, we ana­ly­sed the pro­blems repea­tedly encoun­te­red in the metro­po­li­tan area. Apart from those rela­ted to eco­logy, the strong pre­sence of traf­fic jams and per­ma­nent pol­lu­tion in the agglo­me­ra­tion appea­red to us to be impor­tant”, remem­bers François Fantin.


François Fantin et Paul Feipeler, lors de la remise du prix du jeune entrepreneur 2015 pour le site de covoiturage OpenCar. DR

François Fantin and Paul Feipeler, during the pre­sen­ta­tion of the 2015 Young Entrepreneur prize, for the OpenCar car­poo­ling web­site. DR

This is where the idea of crea­ting a local car­poo­ling plat­form came from. In other words, a way to over­come the dif­fi­cul­ties asso­cia­ted with traf­fic, while res­pec­ting the envi­ron­ment. “The objec­tive is not to create new routes, but to try to fill the cars up and limit the num­ber in cir­cu­la­tion in the metro­po­li­tan area”, adds François Fantin.


If the jour­ney is already plan­ned, why not share it with fel­low citi­zens ? The idea of being able to help each other on a daily basis, being ano­ther basic prin­ciple of the pro­ject.


After the design phase, came the search for finance. At the begin­ning, the three foun­ders resor­ted to crowd­fun­ding and appeals to indi­vi­duals, amoun­ting to 1,525 euros, before win­ning two entre­pre­neu­rial com­pe­ti­tions : The Responsible Conduct prize, in June 2015 (5,000 euros), then the Young Entrepreneur prize, in October (1,500 euros).



The last phase of the pro­ject : the achie­ve­ment of the offi­cial launch of the OpenCar web­site on 12th April. “Only dri­vers could regis­ter in advance, so that they could post their daily trip at the launch,” said the pre­sident of OpenCar. “Our goal is to reach 8,000 people on the plat­form, dri­vers and pas­sen­gers inclu­ded.”




A charter for drivers



What are the key­words of the site ? Clarity and speed. Each user has a pro­file. It can be rated and be sub­ject to com­ments as a dri­ver or pas­sen­ger. The objec­tive ? To avoid pro­blems rela­ted to secu­rity in gene­ral, and in par­ti­cu­lar, road safety. For example : dri­vers who go to a bar or night­club will have to sign a char­ter, in which they com­mit to not drin­king alco­hol and to res­pect the Highway Code.


Once a pro­file is acti­va­ted, the dri­ver may then access the OpenCar part­ner space, to create their jour­ney. The plat­form boasts dif­ferent pick-up points around the agglo­me­ra­tion under dif­ferent hea­dings : uni­ver­si­ties, sport and lei­sure centres, concert halls, bars-night­clubs, ski resorts, shop­ping malls, etc. The pas­sen­ger has just to click on the tab ‘Join’ to reserve a place. Communication – first by mail and then by phone – fol­lows rapidly.




Free : a sustainable objective



Les fondateurs d'OpenCar, la première plate-forme gratuite de covoiturage local.

Lucas Durand, François Fantin and Paul Feipeler in front of the IAE in Grenoble. © Giovanna Crippa –

Can the exchange remain 100% free ? “Drivers directly accu­mu­late points on the plat­form, depen­ding on the dis­tance and the num­ber of people they carry”, explains François Fantin. “Then they can go to the web­site shop to buy gifts, at various prices, accor­ding to the num­ber of points accu­mu­la­ted.”


On the part­ner side, this means gai­ning visi­bi­lity, and also beco­ming a point of refe­rence in a neigh­bou­rhood. This explains the enthu­siasm with which some have joi­ned the pro­ject : “For the moment, we have 31 part­ners on record. At the launch of the site, there will be nearly 40. We plan to have more and more, with a goal of about 80 to 100 within a year.”


A few examples ? La Belle Électrique, the GF38 and the Musée dau­phi­nois. Even the Acrobastille, Challenge The Room and Eve.


The OpenCar foun­ders are already loo­king towards the future. There are many pro­jects under construc­tion : crea­ting an appli­ca­tion to faci­li­tate com­mu­ni­ca­tion bet­ween users and the deve­lop­ment of OpenCar on a regio­nal, then natio­nal scale. Projects that will depend on the suc­cess of the site in Grenoble.



Giovanna Crippa




Traduction from Speak English Center

Phone : +33 4 76 50 39 79

1 ave­nue du Vercors, 38600 Fontaine FRANCE


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