#FounderStories: Nicolas Brusson, co-founder of BlaBlaCar

Recently, we caught up with Nicolas Brusson, co-founder of BlaBlaCar, as part of our Founder Stories meeting forum for NUMA Paris start-ups. It was quite simply an honour to welcome one of the greatest icons of French entrepreneurship to our premises.

Does BlaBlaCar still need an introduction? If you have been living in a cave and have suddenly turned up in a city, “BlaBlaCar connects people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats”. And, incidentally, BlaBlaCar is the global ride-sharing leader (if this term means nothing to you, go back to your cave). 

The company is present in around 20 countries, boasts no less than 25 million users and has raised several hundred million Euros for a market capitalization that sends chills down the spine.

Other than that, how are things going Nicolas?

From 0 to unicorn

Nicolas’ arrival at NUMA has an amazing magnet effect. A Slack and a few announcements on the various floors are enough to gather quite a crowd. Who would miss the visit of the man behind the most amazing French success story of the last twenty years?

Nicolas happily sits on the sofa on the third floor, in front of an audience keen to learn his tips for success.

Stubble, trainers, jeans and cotton t-shirt: this sober look conceals a very unique adventure.

It all started with a love story. Nicolas lived far away from his girlfriend and was looking for a way to visit her at little cost. At the same time, Frédéric Mazella wanted to visit his family over the holiday season and came up against a lack of transportation. At first, they thought of a service that would enable employees in the same company to share a journey and the expenses incurred.

From then on, the magic was quick to happen: passengers and drivers rushed onto the platform, originally known under the name covoiturage.fr and which constantly evolved into the current version.

Of course, it would be totally naive to think that this story ran so smoothly that it never encountered difficulties. The company’s figures read like a crazy rollercoaster ride prior to its current success.

Nicolas tells us that, faced with difficulties, himself and his co-founder managed to find the energy to start again, and to move even closer to users to offer an experience that significantly meets their needs.

Nico’s tips

  • If you think you have a good idea, step up a gear, raise funds and go global. It is highly probable that others have had the same idea, and only those who can operate on a very wide scale will win the race.
  • Find the right co-founder. Yes yes, of course you know that already. Here’s one more story that should urge you along in your quest.
  • Don’t get bogged down in the legal details. Yes, it is important but it should not hinder international expansion. “JUST GO FOR IT”.
  • Surround yourself with mentors, good mentors, the best. A good piece of advice could make all the difference.
  • Push back the limits, always think further, bigger, faster. 

Thank you Nicolas for taking us on this very invigorating ride!

BlaBlaCar: key dates and figures

  • Launch date: September 2006
  • Last venture round: $200 million
  • Audience: 25 million users – 10 million travellers per quarter
  • Employees: 500
  • Facebook fans: 4 million
  • Website: https://www.blablacar.fr