Zipcar, one of the largest car-sharing networks, is making further inroads into the car-sharing scene - this time, by becoming a lead investor in Wheelz, a campus-based startup that connects car owners with would-be drivers.
Its $13.7 million investment has brought Wheelz's total funding to just under $16 million. Zipcar's CEO Scott Griffith will join Mark Schultz, a fellow investor and a founding partner at Detroit transport tech investment firm Fontinalis, on the Board of Directors of Wheelz.
The startup takes advantage of college campus networks to connect students who own cars with those who wish to drive them. Each participating car is outfitted with a "DriveBox" and is listed on Wheelz. Drivers set usage hour, daily, or weekly usage prices. Users can select their vehicle and rent and unlock the car using their iPhone or a Wheelz card. The owner need not be present to exchange keys - they can live in a "Key Box", inside the car. The car even comes outfitted with a gas card, which participants can use to pay to fill up the car's tank.
Most important, perhaps, is Wheelz's million-dollar insurance policy, which does not affect the car owner's auto insurance. It's an important consideration for students considering allowing perfect strangers to use their cars.
Watch this report, from The Next Web, to see how Wheelz works:
With this major backing and a smart business model, it won't be surprising to see Wheelz expanding to more schools in the future - it's currently up and running at Stanford, UC Berkeley, USC and UCLA.