A French start-up that set out to bring a new approach to driver education and road safety, then used this position to expand into the related field of auto insurance, today announces a major fundraising to continue to develop its service across Europe.
Ornikar, which prepares people for driving exams by offering online driving lessons, allows these users to organize in-person lessons with driving school instructors, provides a booking system to take their written exams and practices, and finally offers them competitive rates to obtain car insurance. as new drivers, raised 100 million euros ($ 120 million).
The company intends to use the funding to expand its business. Driver education services are now available in France and Spain, while insurance is only offered today in France; the plan will be to expand both to other markets.
Series C is led by KKR, with the participation of previous investors Idinvest, BPI, Elaia, Brighteye and H14. Benjamin Gaignault, CEO of Ornikar who co-founded the company with Flavien LeRendu (who also jointly holds the title of CEO), said the startup was not disclosing its valuation, but we understand from a source that it does amounts to about $ 750 million. The company has raised $ 175 million to date.
Ornikar has been around since 2013 and was founded, in Gaignault’s words, “to disrupt driver education”.
Entering the market at a time when most of the processes of organizing, learning and booking your driver training were not only very fragmented but completely offline, Ornikar’s internet offering represented a radical change. in the way the French learned to drive: became easier, but on average about 40% cheaper to organize.
Ornikar’s driver education business today includes not only online course material and booking services, but a network of instructors in 1,000 cities across France and a business launched last year. in Spain, under the Onroad brand. Some 1.5 million people have taken Ornikar’s driver education courses to date, and another 2 million are using its driving school, with growth accelerating: 420,000 new customers have signed up with Ornikar in the last year alone.
The past year has been a difficult one for companies in the transport sector. People usually stayed put and didn’t travel anywhere, but when they did move, they wanted to have enough space to do so.
Translating this into markets like France and Spain, where many cities will have strong public transport and taxi services, people might have chosen to use them less, turning to private vehicles instead. their place. And translating that to Ornikar, Gaignault said that with people being more at home and looking to use time productively to drive more in the future, the startup has seen its business grow by 30% every month. last year.
Interestingly, it was in the midst of a pandemic that Ornikar launched its auto insurance product, which was born out of the same impetus as driver education services: it was built to fill a void in the redesigned market. thinking of Ornikar users.
Motor insurance in France – a market of 17 billion euros ($ 20 billion) per year – is dominated by large players, and when it comes to new drivers and looking for competitive rates, ” larger companies are not comfortable with the user experience, ”said Gaignault. “It’s pretty mediocre and doesn’t meet customer expectations. “
The auto insurance product – sold as Ornikar Assurance – is now on track to reach some 20,000 users by August (after it will be on the market for a year).
While it now accounts for only a small fraction of Ornikar’s revenue compared to its driver education platform, it’s not just from the alumni of Ornikar Driver Education. – but from those who had never used an Ornikar service before – is a good sign it’s on to something big, Gaignault said.
“In October, we noticed that 80% of our new insurance customers were not from Ornikar but from social networks, Google ads and other external sources,” he said. “That’s why we decided to create a new business unit and explore a business as insuretech. “
But, he added, this will not come at the expense of driver education: the two go hand in hand for a common goal of improving driving and road safety. Indeed, Gaignault said he envisions a time when one will fuel the other – not only will the driving school serve as a means of attracting new insurance customers, insurance rates may be affected. by the number of driving courses a person takes to keep their knowledge of the code of conduct and good practices fresh.
“Ornikar has done a great job creating a great experience for students and driving instructors through engaging online training courses and a well-designed market,” said Patrick Devine, Director at KKR and Member of the Next Generation Technology Growth investment team. “We are delighted to invest behind Benjamin, Flavien and their talented team as they expand internationally and accelerate their insurance offering following the successful launches of Onroad in Spain and Ornikar Assurance.