The classic car enthusiast explains how he turned his passion into a global business that operates in 36 countries across 5 continents
Claus Stig Christensen describes his company Bookaclassic as “Airbnb on wheels”.
The sharing economy platform pairs classic car aficionados with the vehicles of their choice – from VW campervans to Jaguar E-Types.
The 50-year-old Danish entrepreneur founded the start-up in 2010 and has since grown the company into an international app, which generated £500,000 in revenue via bookings from its 5,500 users last year.
The London-based company now has four full time staff and 15 freelancers, and experienced a 220% growth over the past three years in the UK market.
BookAclassic recently launched in the New Zealand market, where it is experiencing even faster growth – at a rate of 300% between 2017 and 2018.
Q&A with Claus Stig Christensen, founder of BookAclassic
Where did the idea for the business come from?
The idea for BookAclassic formed when I was a poor student in Aarhus. I had a little yellow Vespa, which I loved, but there was no chance to use it through the snowy Danish winters.
I found it so frustrating that it would be sitting in storage where no one could enjoy it.
One day, when walking past a popular clothes store, it hit me.
I asked the shop owner whether he would like to rent my scooter for a few months to put it in the window display of his shop.
He agreed because it was a talking point for the shop and I had some extra cash in my pocket – from there, the seed had been planted.
How has the journey unfolded since then?
The company was founded as more of a passion project, renting out my personal classics.
Interest gradually increased and I soon needed to reach out to other classic car owners to satisfy the demand.
By 2015, we had begun in earnest and were present in seven countries.
Today, we have a presence in 36 countries across the world with dedicated staff helping us grow.
What kind of funding have you received and what has it enabled you to do?
We received the first seed crowd funding in 2016 and have been through two further rounds since then.
The initial funds went into building the collection of classic cars and development of the product so we could be confident that we had a platform which could handle the challenges that face a global roll-out.
Further funding has been used to hire a full-time team to work on the business.
Where do you operate and what are your future plans?
Today we are in 36 countries across five continents and have the largest classic car database for hire.
In the years to come, we expect to build up our collection of cars even further until we get to the point where, if it’s not on our site, it can’t be rented.
Explain what your business strategy is and how this may change in the future?
Our goal is to be the “go to guys” for classic car hire across the globe.
We want to be the preferred supplier for fashion shoots and the film industry, pioneers in self-drive classic hire wherever you go and the first ones to call when you need a classic for an event.
We will achieve this by continuing to build a strong, agile team in various key areas such as marketing, operations and development.
The direction will be shaped by industry leaders who are present in an advisory capacity, all with the same goal of providing a reliable service that is user-friendly and an enjoyable experience.
We understand the unpredictable nature of the digital landscape and are constantly realigning our vision to ensure we move along with the times.
With a fully-digital business, we are able to implement big changes in a matter of weeks ensuring that we are “future-proofed”.
We’re bringing old-school technology into the digital age, allowing all generations to experience these classic cars.
What’s been your biggest success so far?
As a lifelong classic car nut, I take the most pleasure from building an ever-expanding community of over 5,500 classic car enthusiasts around the world.
All of whom are so passionate about this industry and wanting to share the experience with everyone.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Convincing everybody that BookAclassic is not just a crazy idea, but something that both renters and car owners can benefit from hugely.
Secondly, building a secure platform that can take care of bookings across the globe and one which takes currency, time zones, seasons and cultural differences into consideration and communicates with owners and renters in 20 different languages.
What is the health of your industry like at the moment and what are the factors impacting it going forward?
Who doesn’t like to drive iconic and unique cars?
We do not have any direct competition to measure up against, but if you look at classic car sales, you will see that sales have been skyrocketing over the past few years.
The sharing economy movement is also one that we firmly believe is the future.
BookAclassic is at the forefront of this movement in our industry.
Just as people are starting to realise the value in this we are already at full throttle.
What is the one disruption you’re preparing your business for in the future and how are you doing this?
Some companies see BookAclassic as the disruptor of the car hire business, as we have stepped on their turf.
The team at BookAclassic really wants to be their best friend and global partner.
We feel that, together, we could bring in more business from other countries than they could ever reach on their own.
The disruption we prepare for is from other share economy platforms or social media platforms.
The way we want to tackle this is to open up and form important partnerships which will ensure that all parties increase in strength
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t grow old and grey without ever pursuing your dream.