A French startup that set out to bring a new approach to driver training and road safety, then used that foundation to expand into the related field of car 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 arrange in-person lessons with driving instructors, provides a booking system to take their written and practical exams, and finally offers them competitive rates to get auto 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 currently available in France and Spain, while insurance is currently only offered in France; the plan will be to expand these two to more markets.
Series C is led by KKR, with participation from former 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 does not disclose its valuation, but we understand from a source that it is from approximately $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.”
Coming to market at a time when much of the process of organizing, learning and booking your driver training was not only highly fragmented but completely offline, Ornikar’s internet offering represented a game changer. radical in the way the French learned to drive: the process not only became easier, but on average around 40% cheaper to organise.
Ornikar’s driver training activity today includes not only online course materials and reservation services, but also a network of instructors in 1,000 cities in France, and an activity launched last year. last in Spain, under the Onroad brand. Some 1.5 million people have taken Ornikar’s driving lessons to date, and an additional 2 million use its driving school, with growth accelerating: 420,000 new customers registered with Ornikar during last year only.
Last year was difficult for companies in the transport sector. People usually stayed put and didn’t travel anywhere, but when they did move they wanted plenty of space to do so.
Translating this to 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. in their place. And translating that to Ornikar, Gaignault said that with people more at home and looking to use time productively with a view to driving more in the future, the startup has seen business grow 30% every month l ‘last year.
Interestingly, it was in the midst of the pandemic that Ornikar launched its car insurance product, which grew out of the same momentum as driver education services: it was built to fill a void in the market. redesigned with Ornikar users in mind.
Auto insurance in France – a 17 billion euro ($20 billion) a year market – is dominated by big players, and when it comes to new drivers and the search for competitive rates, “the biggest businesses aren’t comfortable with the user experience,” Gaignault said. “It’s quite mediocre and doesn’t meet customer expectations.”
The car insurance product – sold as Ornikar Assurance – is now on track to reach some 20,000 users by August (when it has been on the market for a year).
Although it represents only a small fraction of Ornikar’s revenue today compared to its driver training platform, this participation – not only of Ornikar’s driver training alumni, but of those who had never used an Ornikar service before – is a good sign that it’s on to something big, said Gaignault.
“In October, we noticed that 80% of our new insurance customers came not from Ornikar but from social media, Google ads and other outside sources,” he said. “That’s why we decided to create a new business unit and explore a business as an 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 the way people drive and improving road safety. Indeed, Gaignault said he envisions a time when one feeds into the other – not only will the driving school serve as a way to attract new insurance customers, but insurance rates may be affected. by the number of driving courses a person takes to maintain knowledge of the code of conduct and fresh best practices.
“Ornikar has done an amazing job creating a great experience for driving students and instructors through engaging online training courses and a well-designed marketplace,” said Patrick Devine, KKR Director 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.”