BMWFS Lab’s Tech Startups Eager For Finance Solutions

October was the start of a 10 week workshop at BMW Financial Services’ UK headquarters, which will play host to five disruptive automotive finance startups in hopes of finding the next big digital solution in the industry.

The Innovation Lab, as BMW calls it, is hosting five analytics companies, rideshare enthusiasts, and financing platform builders from October 3 until the closing presentation on December 8.

One of the winning startups, Drover, offers consumers a new kind of car rental experience targeted at rideshare drivers who typically only need the vehicle for a year or less.

“Our business model sits in between a classic three-year lease and a regular rental car company like Avis, whose average rental rate is around 5 days,” Felix Leuschner, founder and CEO of Drover, told Auto Finance News. “We try to bridge that gap.”

Drover, like the other winners, will have access to BMW Financial Services’ resources and direct lines of communication with top executives to better understand what goes on behind the scenes. After the first day, Leuschner said it’s already very productive.

“(BMW seems) very keen to learn from startups, given they are viewing a change in consumer behavior and they want to participate in that,” Leuschner said. “BMW is reasonably optimistic and pragmatic enough to look at us as a revenue stream. It doesn’t necessarily have to be their bread and butter product —  the three year lease — but they are opportunistic enough to look at alternative forms of revenue, through players like us.”

Warwick Analytics, another winner in the program, specializes in digitally analyzing big data for its clients, especially old data that typically has to be cataloged manually. CEO Dan Somers told AFN, the company is relatively new to the auto finance sector but he hopes the relationships formed at BMW will help his team understand the industry.

“We can really try to understand the DNA of BMW and the auto finance industry,” Somers said. “Learning the nuances, the way people think, the cultures, the capabilities and the business needs, is something we would never normally get the chance to have on such an open dialogue. So hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to really fine tune applications for this industry, and clearly with BMW  FS putting us on their growth lapse, they get the first bite at it, they get to shape it for their own benefit, and ultimately that’s got to be win win.”

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