Bolt: How does the estonian unicorn adapt to the Covid19 pandemic?
This week I propose an interview with Henri Capoul, Country manager of Bolt France, the latest Estonian unicorn. This chauffeur-driven car is known as Uber’s challenger and came third in the FT 1000 ranking: “Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2020” published by the Financial Times in March 2020.
Bolt is the result of a great success story. At the age of 19, Markus Villig gave up his studies to devote himself to his carpooling application, Taxify (now known as Bolt). In six years, he became the youngest founder of a billion-dollar company in Europe, according to a study by the Estonian start-up network Lift99. This European mobility application is available in 30 countries and around 100 cities. It has 25 million users and 500,000 drivers. In the latest round of founding, investors include Daimler and also Korelya, the investment fund headed by Fleur Pellerin. In September 2019, Bolt announced its “Green Plan”, an initiative to reduce the transportation industry’s ecological footprint. Through this plan, Bolt aims to participate in offsetting CO₂ emissions from the European transport sector by at least 5 million tonnes by 2025. In addition to this, there has been a diversification of mobility services with an offer of alternative sustainable routes such as scooters.
Interview with Henri Capoul, Country manager of Bolt France
– What’s the impact of the Covid19 crisis on Bolt?
We are impacted like most players in the VTC market but also all sectors of activity in France and abroad which are also affected by this global health crisis. The priority for us today is the safety of our users and drivers. We, therefore, ask all drivers to respect the WHO and Ministry of Health guidelines and take the necessary health measures to protect everyone.
– Does Bolt manage differently in different countries?
The initiatives are local, but we share a lot of things between countries. Good ideas are usually picked up from one country to another. Of course, we have to deal with regulatory frameworks, which may differ.
– Are there measures in place to protect drivers?
We recently activated the “Bolt Protect” option on our application. With this option, the driver is protected from any risk of contamination, thanks to a plastic protection that he installs himself. Even in periods of confinement, many French people still need to travel and we do our best to help them. In order to ensure that these trips are made in the best safety conditions, we invite our partner drivers to carry out the necessary installations to integrate the Bolt Protect category. However, we understand that some will need time to comply. In general, we also ask all drivers to comply with WHO and Ministry of Health guidelines and take the necessary health measures to protect everyone.
– Is there anything in place to compensate for their reduced activity?
With the Bolt Business Delivery service, Bolt offers VTC drivers with a cargo delivery license to join the service as a courier and partially compensate for their reduced business. Bolt is currently in negotiations to be able to deviate from this rule and allow drivers without a goods delivery license to register on the Business Delivery platform as well.
– You are launching a new delivery service. Who is it for?
Bolt Business Delivery connects companies and couriers on the Bolt platform. It allows companies (retail, e-commerce) to deliver orders to their customers within a day or even an hour, at a low cost, thanks to an intuitive and easy to use interface. The delivery portal allows companies to have very quick access to a large network of couriers. The service allows VTC drivers who also have the capacity to transport goods to operate an additional business with Bolt.
– Is this service integrated into the classic application or do I need to download a new application?
This service is integrated into the classic application, which redirects the user to a dedicated website.
– How does the delivery process work in order to comply with the barrier instructions and gestures?
During the Covid-19 outbreak, contactless delivery is mandatory for all Bolt deliveries to prevent the physical spread of the virus.
Sellers must specify in the application a place where the courier can leave the package so that he is never in direct contact with the recipient.
The same applies to collections from restaurants, where couriers do not come into direct contact with restaurant staff.
– How is the Bolt France team organized to work (teleworking?)
Our priority is to ensure the safety of our employees. We therefore, follow WHO recommendations and have invited all our employees to work from home.
The final words:
“In the current context, Bolt’s priority is to put its expertise and technology at the service of professionals to ensure business continuity. We have built a large network of more than one million drivers in Europe and Africa. We believe we can leverage our operations and logistics experience, and use our technology and extensive network of drivers to help during this international health crisis. »
Interview by Violaine Champetier de Ribes
Author and speaker
Founder of Digeetrips