Alejandro Betancourt Looks to Expand Ride Share Market in Spain with Auro Travel
Over the years, Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez has developed a reputation for making smart investments, especially in areas that might offer high risk but can present high rewards, including benefits for consumers.
This has included everything from developing nuclear power and Internet service in Venezuela to letting the world know about Hawkers, an innovative line of high-quality but affordable sunglasses with interchangeable lenses.
Under his guidance, a group of Spanish college students were able to receive the funding and the business expertise to propel Hawkers into a global brand, selling millions of glasses online and bypassing traditional retail channels.
In 2017, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez decided that the next area of opportunity in Spain was going to be ride sharing, a concept that is taking off in the U.S. and other countries.
In general, ride sharing bypasses public transit and traditional taxi services to have private operators pick up private passengers and take them to their destination. It’s easy and affordable and can be ordered and paid for from a mobile phone.
Spain, however, has limitations for ride sharing in place, especially in larger cities like Madrid or Barcelona. One rule requires that every ride share company employee must have a special license, and only a certain amount of licenses is available in each market.
As early as 2018, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez began seeing the popularity of these ride sharing services like Uber in other countries and other markets, and was sure that the Spanish community would benefit from them. But he needed to move fast before other entrepreneurs had the same idea.
Not wanting to miss an opportunity, he formed a new division of his company, Auro Travel, which focused on developing and eventually implementing ride sharing throughout Spain. He’s now founder and CEO.
The Arrow Division of Auro Travel began its mission by trying to purchase as many licenses as it could, which would make sure it was prepared when ride sharing eventually became available by the area’s population.
Every market had its own number of licenses, and Arrow has steadily gained 2,000 licenses, including Madrid and other communities in Spain. It also has 2,000 vehicles to provide these services.
The timing was perfect – by now, these licenses are in high demand.
Even if Auro Travel doesn’t end up using every license it has purchased, the company can still make them available to other ride share companies wanting to be part of this market, such as Uber or Cabify.
As Auro Travel’s license acquisition efforts continues, Alejandro Betancourt Lopez and his other associates are working on the next step, which is developing a unique mobile app for Arrow that people wanting a ride can use to connect to a driver.
The app makes it easy to order a ride to a particular destination, pay the driver, see when he or she are approaching the pick-up point, alert when they arrive, and take care of other details.
It is now in the beta phase, which means people can download it, explore it and learn about its features and services, although official ride sharing for the company isn’t taking place due to little demand for travel due to COVID pandemic conditions.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez is also looking ahead for future business opportunities related to ride sharing. Once Spain is under control and ride sharing is going smoothly, he’d like to see if a similar model can be implemented in other countries.
This could start with Western Europe, especially when activities resume after the COVID pandemic. With the foundation in Spain, it could go up against other existing companies.
He hopes ride sharing can be useful for operators as well – analysis of the markets shows that there’s opportunities for everyone, from full-time drivers to people wanting a little extra money as a side business.
Ride share could eventually be successfully that it could lead to fewer people buying or needing personal vehicles. With more people working from home, there are fewer commuters, so a need for everyone to have their own car isn’t as emphasized anymore. Or if they do drive, they can use public transit or ride sharing.
Plus, a growing number of drivers are more environmentally focused and concerned, so the idea of driving less also has some appeal.
Besides possible interest from passengers and ride operators in the future, Auro Travel is seeing interest from investors.
A 2019 investment round brought in more than $10 million in funding.