While the idea of earning extra cash through a side gig sounds tempting, the reality is that few want to spend their free time driving around strangers or pedalling Deliveroo orders around the city for someone else to then eat.
Finding a new way for the average person to fill their wallets, international markets including the US and UK have seen the rise of car advertising startups, offering another way for car owners to earn cash for driving.
Cars are decorated in brand logos or iconography, with owners able to earn advertising dollars for driving their vehicle over time.
The model is used by startups such as Carvertise, a US-based adtech which has helped drivers earn over US$450,000 since launching a few years back.
Looking to adapt the car advertising model and update it with technology is Sydney-based startup Wrappli.
A mobile app matches drivers to advertising campaigns based on their driving “habits”, offering drivers the chance to ‘wrap’ their cars in brand advertising to earn money on a cash-per-kilometre basis.
Cofounded by Fiona Aaron, the CEO of incubator program Rough Diamonds Ideas, and entrepreneur Suraj Vaghjiani, the startup wants to help provide advertisers with an impactful, cost-effective way to reach customers, using drivers as “mobile billboards”.
Approaching Aaron through her accelerator program, Vaghjiani said he was interested in the model used by international startups such as Carvertise, and believed it could transition perfectly to the Australian market.
“We researched the model together, including assessing the results for a different company in the UK, and fell in love with the concept almost immediately. It fit the growing culture of a ‘sharing economy’ gaining traction globally…Wrappli just made perfect sense,” said Vaghjiani.
Working across a seven-month development phase, the startup earned a Minimum Viable Product grant from Jobs for NSW which would help accelerate the early stages.
Getting the app up to scratch, the beginning of the year saw the cofounders pitch Wrappli to Sydney Angels, where they secured a “sizeable capital injection” to fund their growth.
“We had heard brilliant things about Sydney Angels, and personally knew several people involved with the organisation. So, we put together an initial pitch to the Angels, and found ourselves being accepted into the process, which involved assistance from the Angels in refining our pitch, business model, and other strategic advice,” recounted Vaghjiani.
“We found themselves progressing steadily through the process, and were eventually successful in the last stage of the process, which involved pitching at a members meeting in front of 100 or so potential investors.”
Using mobile GPS, Wrappli users who create an account have their driving habits tracked over several weeks, allowing the platform to “gain an understanding” of where the user drives, at what time of day and the average amount of kilometres travelled.
The data is then used to match users to advertising campaigns that suit their location and habits, as Vaghjiani explained.
“From the advertiser’s point of view, there might be area- or suburb-specific of focus, in which case we will find drivers who do most kilometres in those areas. Or, the goal of the campaign could be just high frequency and high kilometres, which would favour drivers who frequent metro areas, drive in peak times, and who have high kilometres,” he said.
Discussing what qualifications a driver or their vehicle needs to be eligible for Wrappli, Vaghjiani said the startup is looking to target drivers who have a car less than eight years old, with their full licence and comprehensive insurance. Cars have to be damage-free and drivers also have to pass a background check.
“There has been a huge level of interest from the driver community,” he said.
“After a two week Facebook campaign, we received over 1,000 driver registrations in Sydney alone. We now have over 2,000 nationally, with kilometres already being logged from drivers who are excited to get matched to campaigns.”
As to what type of brands had joined the platform, the startup is currently working with several media buying and planning agencies to get a number of big-name companies on board.
Thanks to the app’s ability to geo-target areas, Vaghjiani said Wrappli is open to working with businesses of all types and sizes, from tiny bricks-and-mortar stores to companies working within TV, ecommerce, and the food and beverage industries.
“Our larger clients and agencies are viewing Wrappli as a new and exciting medium for big impact brand communication. It can be used strategically to extend their outdoor campaigns into hard-to-reach places, and creatively, using whole wraps to stand out from their competition,” added Vaghjiani.
Once a user is matched to a campaign, they’re sent an “offer” which, if they accept, requires them to undergo a full background check on their driving history. Users then book in with the startup to have their car wrapped, with Wrappli placing a Bluetooth beacon underneath the wrapping which syncs with the driver’s mobile to track their movements.
“This ensures the driver is always within the vehicle when tracking kilometres,” Vaghjiani explained.
Drivers earn depending on a $/KM rate set, the time of day driving, if there is a geo-fence – driving within the selected region will pay a higher rate – and the number of kilometres travelled all up.
Filling a niche section of the advertising market, Vaghjiani said the startup’s only direct local competitors are taxi and mobile billboards, which, in comparison, aren’t as effective as they lack a data and reporting backing.
“Additionally, Wrappli enables advertisers to create interesting campaigns where they can mix and match the amount of wrapping on cars, tailoring campaigns to different budgets and even car types,” he added.
Now working with agencies, the startup is looking to expand its offering across Australia, with the goal of “revolutionising” the outdoor advertising industry using the technology.
Image: Suraj Vaghjiani. Source: Bandt.