The Dion Guagliardo Podcast

#45 Will Davies - Founder of Car Next Door, CEO of Uber Carshare

July 27, 2023 Will Davies Season 1 Episode 45
The Dion Guagliardo Podcast
#45 Will Davies - Founder of Car Next Door, CEO of Uber Carshare
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Car Next Door was a peer-to-peer car sharing service that set out to challenge the one person, one car mentality. Starting in 2013, Will and his co founders grew the company up until their recent deal with Uber at an estimated valuation of 50 million to create Uber car share.

Throughout the episode, Will talks about the intricacies of building a two-sided marketplace and how starting in a niche market helped them succeed. If you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave a review and share with family and friends.

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Highlight Clip

Will: Another company, Peer-2-Peer, car sharing. So doing exactly the same thing, started the same month as us they launched Australia wide.

They were in airports and in every suburb in Australia, they got apps straight away. All we had was this crappy website. but with actual density, an actual product that was useful to people, they had. You know, an Android app, an Apple app, a fancier website spread out everywhere.

They were spread so thin and they shut down after about four months because, they just couldn't get any traction.

When you're trying to get that initial test going, do that pilot out, what's the narrowest bit that you can focus on.

For some it's geography. For some it's like, whatever the market is and just getting really tight so you can kind of prove one point and get good at that before you expand out.


Dion: Welcome to the Dion Guagliardo Podcast, where I interview business people who run or have sold businesses worth a few million dollars all the way through to billions of dollars. While most of my [00:01:00] time is spent to managing investment portfolios for people after they've had a successful exit. I've always been fascinated by the entire process and hearing the insights that successful entrepreneurs and business people have learned along their.

At Fortress Family Office, we're an investment portfolio manager and we manage portfolios for ultra high net worth families. If you'd like to know more about not only the way we approach investment markets by our philosophy on life and business, feel free to subscribe to my weekly insights note. Go to and hit subscribe.

Guest Introduction

 In this episode, I interview Will Davies founder of Car Next Door and now the CEO of Uber Car Share. Car Next Door was a peer to peer car sharing service that set out to challenge the one person, one car mentality. 2013, Will and his co founders grew the company. up until their recent deal with Uber at an estimated valuation of 50 million to create Uber car share.

Throughout the episode Will talks about the intricacies of building a two sided marketplace and how starting in a niche [00:02:00] market helped them to success. If you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave a review and share with family and friends.

Introduction to Will Davies, Car Next Door and Uber Carshare

Dion: Will, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us.

Will: Thanks Dion. Great to be here.

Dion: Do you wanna just start by telling us a little bit about when you first started the business and, how that journey came to be?

Will: I had a mortgage broking business that I started when I was 21, Yeah, I enjoying that. Really enjoyed setting up businesses, just starting business. the, the whole idea of sort of doing my own thing, has been really appealing to me. and so set that up, it's going well.

Had a team of 20 and, as I was kind of getting older, I was just becoming more and more concerned about humans were impacting, the environment in so many different ways. So, you know, pollution, plastics, creating heaps of waste, polluting waterways, overfishing, the, the whole gamut.

But the thing that I think is the most impactful and needs to be dealt with, the soonest is climate change. And, I [00:03:00] made the decision when I was about 28 that I wanted to focus all of my energies, all of my business energies on, Climate change. and then you get back to mortgage broking, you're kinda like, well, how is mortgage broking gonna help with climate change?

Why Will Davies Started Car Next Door


Will: The answer is, it can't. so that I wanted to get outta that business and then went hunting. basically, I searched for the best idea that I thought would be a good business, but then also have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions and looked at a bunch of different things and, and essentially, peer-to-peer car sharing was, was the best idea I could think of.

And the reason that it, it does that is, twofold. One is that, Every shared car that you've got sitting on the street means over time, up to 10 people decide not to own a car themselves because they can kind of access a car. So a car's carbon emissions are in its manufacture.

So if you can stop 10 cars being manufactured for everyone you can get out in the street, then, that's, a big impact. And then secondly, people who pay per use, as a car. Like think about if you've got a car sitting [00:04:00] out the front of your house. You need to go and get some bread, you'll just jump in the car because you've already paid all the fixed costs.

You know, it's only gonna cost a few cents to get there, but when you actually gotta five bucks to, to get in a car for the half hour to do it, you kind of go, oh, well I'm gonna walk or catch public transport. So people who car share, drive a lot less. So that's was kind of the.

The initial, thesis about why we got into it. and has been the big, why for me, sort of throughout the whole journey.

The Difficulty Car Next Door and Will Davies Faced Convincing the Australian Market

Dion: Well, what was the biggest challenge that you faced when you started it to get traction to convince people Because Australians are very comfortable and very used to having a car. not they necessarily need one, but they, automatically do that. Right? It's almost like a rite of passage.

You buy a car when you turn 18 or whatever it might be. 

Will: there were lots of challenges. for example, you've gotta build an acceptable level of technology so that people will actually use this use the service. which is a lot in itself, I think one of the biggest ones was you needed to create enough density of cars in a particular area so that you [00:05:00] become a really convenient service for people who live in that area.

So, our strategy at the start was we only launched in Bondi. so we picked one suburb, which was Bondi. We picked that because that's where there was a, there's a traditional car sharing company where they owned all the cars called GoGet. Their biggest suburb was Bondi, but so we thought, oh, must be working there.

Let's, let's start just in Bondi. And we focused all of our efforts on getting 25 cars in Bondi. Which made us made us very convenient if you lived in Bondi, because People who live in Bondi don't care if you've got a car in, Surry Hills.

They only care if you've got a car in, Bondi. focused all of our efforts initially on just getting supply in one suburb. So we, letterbox dropped the hell out of that suburb, went to the Bondi Farmer's Market. I did that every week for, a year. we got PR in the Wentworth Courier, which is the local Bondi rag.

Everything was Bondi. And we just focused on getting cars and borrowers in Bondi only so that you were a [00:06:00] borrower looking to get a car, there was heaps, heaps around. So we kind of created Bondi as our, prototype, and we got the cars in Bondi being used. six or seven times a month, which was like enough for us to go, shit, this can be successful.

And then on the back of that, we then raised, a chunk of money to expand outside, into other suburbs and into, you know, into Melbourne and then, and then on from there. 

Car Next Door's First Competitor and the Mistakes They Made


Will: there's quite an interesting case study. Another company, Peer-2-Peer, car sharing. So doing exactly the same thing, started the same month as us and they decided they launched Australia wide.

They were in airports and in every suburb in Australia, they got apps straight away. All we had was this crappy website. but with actual density, an actual product that was useful to people, they had. You know, an Android app, an Apple app, a fancier website spread out everywhere.

They were spread so thin and they shut down after about four months because, they just couldn't get any


Dion: I mean, I imagine it's capital intensive, right?

Will: it's, it's very capital intensive cuz you know, all two-sided marketplaces, [00:07:00] you've gotta build up both. You, you basically gotta build two businesses in, in one because you, you either side.

I think most businesses, I mean, for us it was that geographic focus that we needed. when you're trying to get that initial test going, do that, do that pilot out, what's the narrowest bit that you can focus on.

For some it's geography. For some it's like, whatever the market is and just getting really tight so you can kind of prove one point and get good at that before you expand out.

The Moment Will Davies Realised His Strategy For Car Next Door Was Correct

Dion: that makes a lot of sense. as you're doing that strategy, when did you realize that, hey, we've got something here that can work?

Will: as I mentioned it was, it's probably when, when you've got a car, you've got 25 cars there and they're getting six or seven bookings per month, each car, and the owner's making or 600 bucks a month. you know, you're kinda like, right. Listen, is this a useful tool for our borrowers?

Yes. They, they're using it. They want to use it, they're happy to pay for it. a owner's making an acceptable amount of money from it. Yes.[00:08:00] and then the next step, and the way I've always looked at capital raising is, My job is to, you know, truly believe in the product and do my best pitch, to capital raise.

really how I saw capital raising is, all right, well, this is, this is third party people who aren't as emotionally as invested as I am voting with their money that they think that this is a good idea. I looked at capital raise as almost like a. know, well, I mean, it literally was, but it's a mandate to continue on, like it's permission to continue on because I've been able to convince and prove to other people that this is a worthy idea, worthwhile of them money into.

How Difficult it was for Car Next Door to Raise Money 

Dion: And what, how challenging was that in the earlier days trying to raise money. and obviously since then you've done a deal with Uber, but back then you've got Uber and other, all sorts of other types of sort of competitors, but not competitors. They're all in that car space of some sort.

there's obviously a change happening. In that market, how difficult was it to raise, money?

Will: we [00:09:00] were not a sexy startup. So, you know, I, I've got mates in the startup world and they'll tell me stories about how know, they go and pitch to one of the, big VCs and. By the time they get home, they've got a term sheet in their email already.

we never got a term sheet started off, friends and family, worked very, very hard for all the capital raisers had periods where the whole team went on equity only. and in order to sort of stretch out our runway so that we could get a capital raise, finished, never got a VC interested in us.

pretty much throughout our whole journey, our investor base included a bunch of, angels and high, high net worth, like just people that I'd kind of met along the journey at startup events and, you know, friends of friends but what was interesting for us is corporates got interested in us because, , if you think of the big, three that got interested were, were Caltech High Hyundai and Suncorp, all three of those saw that world of transport is changing.

We're in a world now where, Yeah, everyone drives their own car around their own petrol car around, and the, and the future [00:10:00] world is, very likely to be you know, you press a button on your phone, autonomous car picks you up. It's probably electric, you where you wanna go so they can all this, there's this gonna be this huge disruption going on down the track.

They wanted to you know, part of it and learning about it. And so that's where we got a lot of traction. But you, I mean, when, when I set up the business, I had no idea that there was gonna be any interest in us in that, respect.

The Process of Merging with Uber and How Will Davies Navigated It

Dion: Yeah. Okay. And when you've gone and done that deal going from the start in the early days that in some ways you looked at that as the end of that journey, but it's also the start of the next phase, right?

Will: We've got the world now and, the world that I think. Everyone knows what we are going to be in, which is pretty similar to think of Uber, but then, driverless vehicle comes and picks you up and it's incredibly because you, you know it's only the vehicle costs that are there.

that's where I think that everything's going eventually. 

Dion: I mean, I, I look at that and I expect that at some point, the system's gonna look at my calendar. I'm just gonna walk downstairs and walk out the door, and there's gonna be a car that I'm gonna [00:11:00] get in, go to the meeting, come back, And I'm all sort, I don't have to think about it. Even that's, that's how I see it happening.

Will: Yeah, no, e e exactly like the predictive, give whatever service it is, access to your calendar so it can predict when you're Can just have a car hovering nearby, waiting for you to Yeah, there's all sorts.

where Uber is at is they have a absolutely fantastic product.

you are looking to go, one to 15 kilometers or under, under a 20 minute trip. but if you are looking to a car to get around town for a full day or you want to go to the Blue Mountains for the weekend or out at town or something like that, they kind of just didn't have any options there.

And so they found really appealing with us is we are very similar model in the sense that we peer to peer, as they are. So it all kind of matches up their asset light. But, they saw with us the ability for Uber, to be able to provide the full suite of trips for someone.

So we're kind of, we want to create a place where if you go, I don't own a car, or I need, I need a second car. [00:12:00] No matter what you wanna do, whether it be a trip down the road. you know, a weekend away, we've got an amazing option for you.

So they approached us, with that thinking in mind and it kind of went from there.

Dion: So Will, in terms of, I mean I grew up in an earth moving background. you know, you're talking about sort of Uber is, with a driver, is wet hire, and then you guys are doing dry hire, basically the, the machine with no driver,

Will: Yes.

Dion: basically that's it. So they've, they've Uber then come in and said, well, we do the, the wet hire.

You guys do dry hire. We wanna be able to do all of it. And it's a good fit.

Will: Yeah, exactly. If you've got any, listeners in the, construction game, then, that'll really help them with the analogy

Dion: Yeah. That, that's basically what it is, right? That's how, that's how I see it.

Will: Yeah, no, it's exactly, it. It's, and it's like, you know, Uber have got a taxi like service. We've got a rental, rental car, self-drive, type service.

So yeah, no, definitely.

Was Uber a Competitor to Car Next Door?

Dion: Yeah. I know it's different in terms of what you guys do in Uber, but did you still see them as a competitor you know, when you were selling the business and or joining them? Did, did it, did it have a sort of like a [00:13:00] bittersweet type feel to it?

Or how did, how emotionally, how was it, I guess is what I'm saying?

Will: Yeah, guess firstly, I, I never saw Uber as a competitor

when we were raising money, The story I told and what I believed was that for Car Next Door to be successful. We needed Uber, to be And the reason is the people who use us, our best customers are people who either had two cars and they go down to one car or they had one car and go down to zero cars and.

If you are gonna live car free or, or with, you know, less cars. You

need, Uber trips. You need public transport. You need, you the, bikes and the scooters and, and you need us. And so the same way that we worked together, well now as a, you know, on the same team, we were kind of al always on the same team, I thought.

Dion: yeah. Okay. It's, it is the same customers. It's complimentary service, isn't it? When you say it like that, it makes complete sense.

Will: Yeah.

People who, join Car Next Door Door are actually more likely[00:14:00] be a bigger Uber customer. our biggest customers are Uber's biggest customers as well. So, the numbers play out like that.

The Biggest Challenge that Car Next Door had Merging with Uber

Dion: And, and what would you say is the biggest challenge that you've faced going into this new deal? You've been running your own company, you've got autonomy. there's benefits and there's also probably, parts that are, are challenging. Right. What, what's the biggest challenge that you've had so far with, with that merge?

Will: when you're running your own thing, you don't need to coordinate with any other, parties. So, you know, obviously we had shareholders and had a board, but of those shareholders, we basically, my job then was to go, right, we are here, we want to get to here.

here's the strategy for how we think we're gonna get there. Board, do you agree with that? Yes, we do. Or you know, what about this or this? And then, and then off you go and do it. I guess the big, the big change now is that, now got the, the shareholder, which is a hundred percent holder, got a lot more specific ideas about, you know, how we need to [00:15:00] fit in with, with what they're doing.

So there's a lot more

Dion: Yeah.

Will: coordination needed to make sure that we're, what we are doing is in line with what the, what the. What the, what Uber on the whole wants to do, which it's a, it's an extra challenge that we've gotta do, but, it makes complete sense to me that we've gotta do it.

We can't keep acting the way that we were. yeah. Otherwise we, I, I'm sure that we'd be quickly become very annoying.

Dion: Well, so I mean, what you lose in autonomy and speed of decision making and those types of things. I guess the, the flip side is you gain in, deeper pockets and breadth of, Technology and, geographical situation, all those types of things. I assume that that's the exciting part, is the next phase the upside you've got.

Will: Yeah, I mean we, we set up, we set up car next door. our mission. was, and still is to free people in the planet from the one person, one car mentality. it's, kinda like what we've spoken about. I want when, when you go, when your car sort of claps [00:16:00] out or you someone's come back from overseas and they're thinking about buying a car, we know that we're already having a big impact.

people are going, oh geez, I'm not gonna buy another car. I'm just gonna, there's cars everywhere. Here we've got, we've got so many, we've got so many cars all around us. I don't need to buy a car. And then just that whole one person, one car thing dies away. And so the way that I kind of see it is, can we do that?

Much faster using, using, you know, the, the resources of, of Uber. And I absolutely think we can, like they've got user base that are very complimentary to us. massive. Marketing skills and tech skills. And so all of that stuff you're talking about and

Dion: Yeah.

Will: we're, we are going to, America this year, so we're launching in America.

it's a very big project, but you know, that's something that would've been years off had we been going yeah, I'm incredibly excited about being able to take the mission that we've got and what we've been working towards for the last 10 years and [00:17:00] being hopefully able to. Do what took us in, took us 10 years, you know, do that, do that five or six times over the next two or three years.

The Skills that Will Davies Transferred from his Past Career into Growing Car Next Door

Dion: Yeah, it's pretty amazing in terms of the acceleration that you, you can achieve now that you've got that sort of backing. Right. very cool stuff as a leader, when, when you've gone from a, a, running a, a mortgage broken business, you've got 20 people there. And then you'd go into a startup. What, what were some of the, the skills that you had from that, that sort of, you could bring through into that new business that, that helped you in the initial stages?

Will: when I had the mortgage I, I, had a business coach for, For five years during that, a guy called Andrew Roberts and he, you know, and so he, he was very good, basically five years of working out how to make that business work better and smoother and

 to organize people better and what the right sort of meeting cadence is.

And, And [00:18:00] how to market and how to think about marketing and, you know, all of those things that you, you, you learn are completely to, were completely to car, car nextdoor. 

and so a lot of the systems that we built and had in place and the, and the routines that we had in place, I then replicated into, into Car Next Door.

So yeah, huge, huge numbers of things. So I, I kind of see. the mortgage broking business is just a fantastic sort of practice, business for me to

how, how business works. 

Dion: And was there anything that when you made that transition that suddenly you sort of went, oh, hang on, doing it Like that doesn't work in this business. You've gotta adjust. Was there anything that sort of, caught you by surprise when you made, when you went into a tech sort of business versus something more traditional?

Will: you read that book? The e-Myth?

Dion: Yes.

Will: You know how he, he talks in there like, do the job yourself, write it down, get a really good process, and then you can hand it over to someone. And then that person will do that process really well forever. You know, you've gotta keep motivated, but then you [00:19:00] can move on to the next thing.

And that's kind of how you, like, I got so excited by that idea, and I kind of wrote up all these processes for the mortgage broking business. and I guess I sold it before this became a bigger issue, but what took me a while to realize is you never, the, the, the systems and processes that you create for, for you at a certain size, 

Dion: Yeah.

Will: become completely inappropriate even a year later.

So, and, and, and so that took me a while to get my head around. So I, I guess then started Car Next Door. we'd have this planning, this strategy and planning cycle that we do every three months. And then, you know, that'd involve a bunch of steps. And I thought, all right, good. Let's sort it out. We'll just, that'll be what it is for the next, you know, 10 years.

But then once the team gets a bit bigger and, you know, things change, all of a sudden that's just completely rubbish and we need to change it. And then, so our, our strategy and the big learning, not so much from, from the mortgage broking to Car next door, but just as I've been [00:20:00] growing Car Next door is, The, the only thing you can expect is that you have to completely, you have to completely think about, ever stays stationary.

You've gotta continually be evolving things and growing things. Otherwise, things stop working very, you know, systems and processes stop working very fast, which is a bit I'd love it to just work forever, but it, but it doesn't.

The Skills Will Davies has Gained from Growing Car Next Door

Dion: You've gotta keep evolving. And, and in terms of evolving, what, what sort of, skills did you find that you, you developed over the journey? So, you know, when you started. car next door in what is 2012, I think. And you, you sort of, you've got x amount of people and to the point now, what were the biggest sort of skills that you, you learned that you didn't necessarily have at the start, but you, you've acquired over time?

Will: One of the things that I've had to learn is like real delegation. I'm, I'm someone who, if I'm in a, if I'm in a meeting or in a room, get really interested in what's, what's going on and kind of get, wanna get into the [00:21:00] detail of it

and I think through quite a slow and painful process of just getting and more things that we've gotta do as a business, have learnt that I needed need to write down and get really clear on what I am, what, what my big things to focus are on the week. And that, when we get to a conversation like, you know, a, a smaller detail one, I might, I might nip in a little bit, but, but I stay out because you've gotta, you've gotta sp spare your time for, for the things that you're actually, you know, the big things that you need to focus on.

I guess yeah, moving from. Fingers in every pie to staying very focused on a smaller number of, of bigger things that are really gonna impact the business.

Dion: And that lets your people grow too, right? As you go along. I mean, you, you can't be looking over the show all the time. It's not effective for you and it's not great for them. that's something that you've gotta learn as you go through. And some people are better at it than others, but if you don't get good at it, [00:22:00] I guess.

it's time's your growth and your ability to actually execute.

Will: E Exactly. And you, you, you, you hear about this all the time and we've, we've had people come and join our team who've been working even for some quite significantly sized businesses, but where the founder and the, the, the senior management just can't get, can't let go of anything. 

I would find.

Must be horrendous for them because I was feeling so deeply responsible for every little aspect, you know, you can't, you know, you haven't got enough time to do it, it'd be a horrible feeling. You,

Dion: Yeah.

Will: mentally let go of whole areas of responsibility, hand that responsibility. I over create.

Good. I mean, I guess what I do is every week I'll have a, I've got, I think I've got seven direct reports. I'll have a. A half hour to a one hour meeting where one-on-one with them to discuss anything clear, any back, you know, what, what are you up to, what do you want my help with? And then [00:23:00] really sort of go from there.

And I struggle to see how how people can manage once you're getting too far into it.

The Advice that Led Car Next Door to Success

Dion: No, that makes sense. Well, and in terms of advice that you've received along the way, what's sort of some of the best advice you've been given as, as you've gone on the journey?

Will: there's one that I quite clearly. car sharing business is a, is a complicated, difficult business to, to do well. You know, you've got, got expensive assets that that can be damaged. You've got people on both sides. It's hard to sometimes know, you know, who, who, who caused issues.

If there's issues, it's, it's just a difficult, it's a difficult business. And I was complaining to one of my, board members whose name's Wayne Baskin, who's, who's a startup founder himself. And about this, I'm just, Jesus, it's a tough business. Like, and he was like, Yeah, be thankful it's a tough business [00:24:00] because, it's really hard what you guys are doing and that means, I guess because it's, cuz it's so difficult.

not any serious competitors the whole way through. Like, so there is, there has been no other peer-to-peer car sharing service in Australia the whole time that we, you know, up until, up until we sold to Uber. no serious one anyway. And, that's because it's really, really hard. And then what he said is, if it's, if your business is easy, so if you've got like a quite a simple business, it's quite easy to get going.

All of a sudden competitors flood in and then it becomes really hard because the com competition hefty. So there's no way of escaping it. You either get a a, a business that's really technically hard and you don't get much competition or you get an easy business and you've got, it becomes super hard because of competition.

So, you know, think when you look at any business, Whenever I've looked at any business, even the ones you go, geez, that's a good business. That must be, you know, that they must be just killing it. It must be so easy. It, it very rarely is.[00:25:00]

Dion: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, that, that is true. like you said, it is a good insight because it's easy to sort of think something's tough. But if it was easy, then yeah, everyone's doing it 


Will: Exactly. The tough, the toughness is your barrier to entry. It just makes it so hard for anyone to. know, if we're an easy one, those guys that started at the same time as us that I mentioned at the start,

Dion: Yeah.

Will: be still here and we'd be, you know, would've probably gone neck to neck for the whole period.

How has Consumer Behaviour Toward the Rental Car Industry Changed Over Time

Dion: No, that's a hundred percent right. I mean, and, and in terms of customers and, and consumer behavior, have you, what have you seen change over the, the years and, and even things like cost of living these days? Has that changed the way consumers look at what you guys do?

Will: when we first started, people were using us just to get around, do little trips. So I wanna get to the shops and back. I want to just little trips around town. and then when Covid hit, all the rental car companies sold their cars, in a panic because, you know, no one was using, no one was getting around. And then when people started [00:26:00] come back to traveling, there was no rental cars anymore. And as you might know, the price of cars, no one could get a new car either because of the

And so car shortage. And, for the sort of whole period during Covid, we became the. A major rental option for people, became a significant percentage of the rental market.

and so that trip mix changed from just being just around town, sort of local, things around, sort of stuff through to, through to that sort of holiday use case.

Dion: Yeah.

Will: now we are, things are starting to normalize. So sort of balancing more back to that around town stuff. But certainly that, that holiday use case is an area that we're really, really keen on continuing. Like we, we basically want, we wanna have a car for every, every trip. You know, if you, wanna go to Ikea, grab one of our vans, it's just around the corner.

If you, if you wanting to. Travel to Byron Bay and, [00:27:00] and you know, use a car for a day or two while you're there. We got, we got a car there as well. So we wanna have the whole, the whole thing. And, I guess Covid kind of helped us with that. And now we're, we wanna help ourselves a bit more.

Dion: It's really interesting how Covid, yeah. Depending on the type of business you were, it was either really difficult or it made things, opened up avenues that people had never thought of or it accelerated trends and those types of things. Quite fascinating the way that sort of changed different businesses in the way people went about it.

Will: I'm al always amazed when I hear when and it's, it's so in, so hard to pick as well.

In, in, that first, April when Covid hit we, our business went down 90%. I was like, oh, we're in a lot of trouble here. And then, but then it back because essential workers needed us. people needed us supermarket.

You know, there was just, everyone started taking local holidays now instead of international and yeah, it all changed.

Dion: It's amazing how things adapt, right? It's, it's quite fascinating. I've heard quite a few stories like that.

Will: yeah.

Will Davies' Business Inspiration and how Learning From Them Led to His Success


Dion: what about business people that, inspire you along the way? Any, anyone that, Australia or, or just globally?

Will: there's probably two people who I've, I think are really interesting. The first, this is, first one's probably gonna be a little bit, cliche, but, I think Richard Branson is, is awesome. 

Dion: Yep.

Will: he do, he's doing good things. You know, he's looking for services that people actually need.

And, and providing them. he's very PE people-centric. I've been to a few talks that he's done and, you know, whenever he is talking about how to grow the business, it's all about how do you, how do you grow the people and how do you, you know, and giving trust the people, making the decisions and, and, and, you know, trusting, trusting them, which is something that I think is really important and, and want to emulate.

and also I just love how he's, he's just having fun with it. You know, he's, he's got this sort of lightness about him. He's just, You know, he's kind of cruising around, having fun. I'm sure he is a very serious person, but he, he the light side the other, the other one, I, I'm [00:29:00] a big fan of Mike Cannon Brooks.

Dion: Yep.

Will: we've used Confluence and Giro, but that's probably what I, what I most like about him is just what he's, what he's doing with his billions. Like he's focused on. applying his significant, money but also influence on, on adjusting the public debate about, you know, about, about climate change and environmental issues, 

Dion: Yeah. 

Will: I think is great.

Dion: some very specific things he's doing in those, those areas. Right.

Will: Yeah, exactly.

Will Davies' Favourite Business Books and how They Contributed to Car Next Door's Success

Dion: And in terms of books, any favorite books that you've got?

Will: Yeah. on the business front. I mean, there's a number of goodies that I've, I've read, but I think my all time favorite for startups is The Lean Startup. you 

that one, 

Dion: Yeah, kind. Eric agrees, I think, isn't it?

Will: Reese. And, and the reason I, like, I just love when people who are setting up a business wanna have a yarn with me, I always recommend that one because [00:30:00] just the, the idea of.

try to create something that's perfect. They hoard it to themselves. They don't share any ideas because they think everyone's gonna flog their idea. You know, they, they, overspend on this sort of first round of what they, they then they finally get out in the market and it's, you know, it's not right.

And you know, they've run outta money or something. I just love the concept. The Lean Startup con concept is do the absolute minimum to get some version of your, of, of your product out there. get it in front of people, see what they think about it, learn from them, and then adjust, which is, I think what it's, it's almost a restatement of, I think those, our competitors, they did the let's make it perfect and then ran outta steam, whereas, I mean, you should have seen our website for the first.

Yeah, it was just, God, it was an ugly thing. Like I was embarrassed about it. Our, our logo horrendous and, we just did everything to the very minimum that we could just to get a service out there. And, but, [00:31:00] but then just kept learning about where things were working and we learnt our lessons faster.

and so big fan of the book and I'm a big fan of the, The theories that he's

Dion's Daughter's Business

Dion: Well I think that the process is, is so important and it's easy to do exactly what you are saying where people try and get everything done perfectly or to a level that they, they personally want to. Cuz often people are perfectionists or they want their, that to be their pride and joy cuz they want it to be right and they've got a vision.

For what it looks like. But in the early stages, just that MVP type model, that testing and seeing what works, what doesn't, and then slowly iterating and building, it's invaluable. my, even I think of my daughter here who started a candle making business, right? And, and she's, in the early days, I'd say just, just make a couple of candles and sell 'em and see what happens. And every time I'd see her, I'd say, how many cows you sold? I'd say just sell two, just five, 10, whatever. Just sell a few and see what the process is of making it, sending them off. And you'll get [00:32:00] feedback and you'll learn. And you know, kids never listen to you, of course. so she went and set up the website and wanted to shop in it.

And she wanted all the things, and she's sort of like doing that and getting things ready. And then she's doing her social media stuff and doing all that. And every time I see her, I'd say, how, how many candles you sold? She goes, dad, stop. You know, it's really annoying. And it's like, I'm, I'm gonna get there.

And I'd say, yeah, okay, that's fine. I just, but you haven't really, it's a hobby at the moment until you actually sell a candle. It's not a business, it's just a hobby. We can really get a wound up. And, but yeah, then she went live with it after sort of six months and sold a few candles and then when she sent one, one broke.

In the post and you know, all these sorts of things, the things you need to test along the way and find out what works, what doesn't. And there's so much time that can be saved by just doing things simply without all the other stuff. Because you could have done it just by social media. You don't need a website to start with.

There's so many things you can do to test what you wanna test and learn what you need to learn. it comes back to that book exactly the sort of principles he's talking about, whether it's a tech business or not.

Um, just. Or a handle business, you know, you can, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and [00:33:00] or just learn lessons quicker by just cutting straight through all the crap and learning in the simplest ways.

So I, I think that's a great book, great example. I hope my daughter doesn't listen to this. I'm sure she won't

Will: um, how's the candle business going now?

Dion: Oh, she's six months of planning and I think about two or three weeks into, into selling it. So, so sort of a, her side hustle, so, well she sort of works full-time, so it's got along okay. She sold a few and learning as she goes. she kind of sees what I was talking about now that it's not as easy as sort of, you know, launching and everyone just comes knocking on your door to buy candles.

Will: Yes. Maybe she should read The Lean Startup as well. It might be a good one.

Dion: Well, I've tried to get her read a few books, but like I said, kids will, uh, read these things when they're ready. They need to learn at their own pace.

Will: I mean, my kids just don't, would never listen to me. It's so, yeah, I understand. Understand

Dion: part of the deal, I think.

but sorry, I interrupted you with that story.

Will: no, it's, it's, I think it illustrates it very, very, very well. The other, the other, the other thing I liked about Lean Startup, they've got a, a term like the Wizard of Oz.[00:34:00]

Wizard of Oz is behind the curtain sort of. There's all and the magic stuff, but it's just some little guy behind the curtain, you know, pulling and stuff. You know, do everything manually. You don't even need to build a could, you could, works. You just do it all manually behind the scenes and act like it's a website.

just to see before you go to the expense and effort of actually automating stuff.

Dion: A hundred percent. A hundred percent. 

any other books that come to mind?

Will: there's another one that I really like. it's called The Obstacle is the Way,

basically it's a stoic, like Marcus Aurelius. It's like, it's, it's a summary of a Marcus Aurelius quote, which I can't remember the full quote, but,

basically when you see something that's really difficult and challenging, I know that my personal reaction is often, oh geez, here's another thing that I'm gonna have to do.

You know, this is hard work. I don't want to do it. all of that kind of stuff. Whereas look at that thing [00:35:00] and go, right, that's what I need to. This is where there's an obstacle. This is what I need to focus on. This is the challenge. This gonna help me grow and become stronger and, and better.

And this is my next lesson that I need to learn in life. So it's, it's basically a, a book discussing that sort of thinking, which I think is very, very powerful. Such a much more positive way of looking at, at life and problems than trying to avoid

Will Davies' Favourite Quote on Business, Leadership and Life

Dion: Yeah. A hundred percent. Yep. what about any quotes or anything, any, mantras that you live by that, or, or wanna share? 

Will: there's a rip. I'm a big Winston Churchill fan. I've, I've read a lot of his biographies and autobiographies, but there was a quote in, in, in a biography on him. do his voice, but he, he, he said, I like things to happen, and if they don't happen, I like to make them happen. I just reckon that sums, you know, I just see him as such a amazing man of action, like lots [00:36:00] of

He made a lot of bad decisions, but he's just a, a man of action and, and energy and I, I, I love that 

And so that quote I think 

sums him 


Dion: You, you can't go wrong with a good Winston Churchill quote. And there are so many of them, you know, in, especially in wartime type. but just in general as well. He, he is got some incredible things that he said along the way. what, what's next for the 

What's Next for Car Next Door

Dion: business?

Will: as I mentioned before, I, I'm just very, very excited about the opportunity for us being able to expand we've done over the last 10 years and just exponentially how fast we can, we can have, try, you know, try to achieve the impact we're, we're, we are, we are looking for in our mission.

So, take what we've done and then supercharge it with, with Uber's backing. They're a good bunch of guys to work with. They're, they're. They're, they're a business of action. They're, they're solving big issues and yeah, it's good. Good, fun. So, I'm, very focused on that and, and there's, you know, going to, gonna America, [00:37:00] this year and looking to continually expand it.

So, I've actually been busier. Over the last year or so working with Uber than I have been, than I was before, which was a very big surprise for 


Dion: Does that involve trips over to America physically or, and, moving at some point? Or is it really, you can do this sort of thing anyway?

Will: well certainly is some travel involved, but

the team is still all in Australia, largely like there's a few people the us but, no, pretty keen overall to stay put. I love Australia. Don't, wanna yank the kids outta school and go off 

Dion: Yeah. 

Will: or anything like that.

Dion: Fair enough. Well, will, thanks very much for your time, mate. It's been awesome to, to hear about the journey and, and learn more about your story and, really appreciate, sharing everything you've shared with us.

Will: Great. Great to speak Dion 

Dion: thanks for listening to this episode. I hope you enjoyed the show. If you did, we would really appreciate if you would leave a five star review and share with family and friends. Thanks.

Highlight Clip
Guest Introduction
Introduction to Will Davies, Car Next Door and Uber Carshare
Why Will Davies Started Car Next Door
The Difficulty Car Next Door and Will Davies Faced Convincing the Australian Market
Car Next Door's First Competitor and the Mistakes They Made
The Moment Will Davies Realised His Strategy For Car Next Door Was Correct
How Difficult it was for Car Next Door to Raise Money
The Process of Merging with Uber and How Will Davies Navigated It
Was Uber a Competitor to Car Next Door?
The Biggest Challenge that Car Next Door had Merging with Uber
The Skills that Will Davies Transferred from his Past Career into Growing Car Next Door
The Skills Will Davies has Gained from Growing Car Next Door
The Advice that Led Car Next Door to Success
How has Consumer Behaviour Toward the Rental Car Industry Changed Over Time
Will Davies' Business Inspiration and how Learning From Them Led to His Success
Will Davies' Favourite Business Books and how They Contributed to Car Next Door's Success
Dion's Daughter's Business
Will Davies' Favourite Quote on Business, Leadership and Life
What's Next for Car Next Door