“Ornikar”, “En voiture Simone”… the multiplication of online driving schools startups

Since 2013, many startups of online driving schools have been created, testifying a will to ride the wave of the thriving market of obtaining a driving licence. With knock-down prices and transition to fully digital, these companies intend to change the way of teaching driving.

Five startups of driving schools online came out, in France, these last years : En voiture Simone, Ornikar, Permigo, Auto-ecole.net and Lepermislibre. They all stand on a similar principle, which is the secret of their competitiveness : their online statute. And the investors like it, a lot. Less than three months ago, the startup Ornikar raised 10 million euros to accelerate its development.

Like many companies today (Uber, Deliveroo…), these startups have no need for either administrative staff, buildings, nor teacher employees, choosing independants instead. They then went with highly competitive prices. A basic pack, including traffic regulations test and 20 hours of driving time costs around 750 euros, as opposed to about 1.100 euros in a traditional driving school.

Those start-ups justify their format by a will to keep up with our society’s evolutions. “En voiture Simone” states to wish to remain “at the closest of [its] students will and needs”, those being increasingly mobile and connected. With this intention, the start-up proposes courses of theoric test on Internet (which facilitates their access) and of driving lessons in Paris, Lille, Lyon, Toulouse or Bordeaux. These lessons are ensured by state-registered independent teachers, for which the platform is used only as intermediary between the professors and the pupils.

The functioning is so to speak identical in each one of those start-ups, except the geographical zone covered, fluctuating according to the platform and its stage of development. Courses of theoric test, control, and passage of the driving exam at the end of the formation : these starts-up function exactly in the same way as a classical local driving school we know. Only Auto-ecole.net is distinguished by employed workers and by its own buildings in the whole French territory.

Meanwhile, born from a desire to create a reliable comparator of driving schools, Vroomvroom.fr came out in 2013. Genuine compass in this more than competitive environment, the company  prevails the authentic opinion of former students and provides the potential future drivers with a comparison of the prices, enabling them to get their driver’s license at the best price.

A certain reservation towards those new offers

Thus, Nicolas Grumberg, chief executive officer of the start-up Vroomvroom.fr since summer 2017 shared with us his mixed opinion on the online driving schools’ phenomenon. Indeed, those are referenced on his website, as qualifying for being there. However, it appears that this model doesn’t really convince him, even advising the potential driver to spend slightly more to get a better formation. According to his mind, this system offers less follow-up to pupils.

Lucas Tournel, co-founder of Le Permis Libre, retorts by supporting the opposite, reinforcing the importance given to the follow-up in his start-up : at the end of each course, the teacher must fill the booklet with notes and commentaries, under penalty of not being paid for these hours. Moreover, Lucas Tournel reminds that allowing the pupils to note the professors on the application at the end of the course ensures the teaching’s quality, contrarily to the traditional driving schools. A weak rating monitor is inevitably less requested, to the great displeasure of those independent instructors. Lastly, the startupper preaches an absence of commitment in the longevity, guarantee of honesty according to him: the pupil can stop his formation constantly and be repaid.

Finally, those start-ups promise a distinctive experience of learning how to drive. Zachary, for example, is in preparatory class in Paris. When he decided to get his driving licence, he has more than enough choices, but an important time constraint, which pushed him to online driving schools with flexible schedules. After a first contact with one of their independent monitors, he chose Ornikar and decided to continue its formation with this mentioned teacher. At the end of his 38 hours of driving, he obtained the theoric test and his licence at first try, while having paid 1.500 euros, as opposed to about 2.400 euros if he had chosen a classical driving school.

From its experiment with the start-up, he draws only the advantages : he praises in particular the quality of online service, of which he underlines the reactivity. He thus states to have been able to be shouldered in his registration as a free candidate, and felt well followed. Ultimately, he does not hesitate to recommend Ornikar to his friends who wish to pass their license, because his experience enabled him to overcome his initial apprehensions, as he entrusts it to us.

However, he recognizes that he good experience with the company is mainly related to his monitor, of which he recognizes the pedagogy qualities, which the start-up – nor no classical driving school – cannot really guarantee.

Credits : CC0 Licence

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