Daniel Claassen, founder of Find a Lift
Carpooling with online platforms is an idea that is growing fast in Europe and North America. After a car accident that changed his priorities in life, Daniel Claasssen decided to launch the concept in South Africa! This is called ‘Find a Lift’ and it can help you to save money, make new friends and reduce your environmental footprint. In the following interview, Daniel explains us how he created it in 2008, and what his next challenges are for the future.
Why Find a Lift was created?
“Find a Lift was created through a personal experience that I had. When I came back from the UK in 2008, I was in a car accident. It changed my life and the way I saw things. A few weeks after that, I was speaking to my cousin about the traffic on the N1 between Durban and Cape Town, and we said: “most people are just one person in the car, so how can we get more people to share a lift with each other?” I did some research and I saw that there was nothing in South Africa. So, I just decided to jump into it!
‘When I came back from the UK in 2008, I was in a car accident. It changed my life and the way I saw things.’
Find a Lift was created in 2008, how does it work exactly?
“www.findalift.co.za is a free online platform that allows members of the public to register, add their journeys and be matched with others travelling their way. This simplifies the communications process, making car-pooling easy to arrange and thus a viable option for many.
Saving money and being nice to the earth while having fun.
We create also private platforms for organizations. For example, at UCT in Cape Town, they have their own carpool program where students can register and find other students to share a ride with. The students of UCT can also use another search button to search matches with the public. This platform allows UCT to do accurate environmental reports.
So, there is an economic, social and environmental impact?
“Totally! On the economic side, it helps people to save a lot of money. It is a great way of making new friends (as people tell us). From an environmental point of view, the more cars you have taken off the road, the more CO2 you don’t eject into the atmosphere.
‘It is a great way of making new friends.’
Do you have three words to describe the spirit of Find a Lift?
“I will use the three words that are at the bottom of our logo: search, unite, and improve.
What was the biggest challenge since 2008?
“Carpooling is still a very new thing, especially on an online platform. People are not very used to it. Getting them to understand the concept is a big issue. Another one would be the timing issue in South Africa. It is complicated to get companies involved in implementing this solution.
How do you see the evolution of Find a Lift in the next 10 years?
“The scalability of Find a Lift is incredible. We connect like-minded people on similar routes, and we create these groups all over the country. The more groups we can create, the bigger impact we can have. We want to stay the biggest South African network.
‘The scalability of Find a Lift is incredible.’
Today, a lot of young South-Africans want to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure to help society. Do you have a piece of advice for them?
“When you have an idea, and you have some spare time to work on it, first build a minimum viable product. Do not build something that makes sense for you and spend five years building something that no one else really wants. Go and test your assumptions as soon as possible, let the people help to shape your product. What is great for you might not be great for the next person.