Lease, own or subscribe? Carma wants to jump-start the car-as-a-service market

The way we get around is changing fast. Between ride services, on-demand car sharing and other methods to have a car only when you need it, owning one is getting less and less compelling. A new startup called Carma offers a happy medium for those who want the convenience of owning a car without the hassle of, well, owning a car. Instead, you just subscribe to it.

Carma launched publicly today at the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018. Its system is more flexible than a lease, cheaper than hourly or daily car-share services and precision-targeted at millennials (whatever those are) and dealerships.

It works like this: You pick from a variety of new and newish vehicles sourced from the inventory of car dealerships in the area. For a set monthly fee you basically get to treat it like your car. Insurance is included, as is ordinary maintenance — you’re mainly on the hook for gas and a few incidentals.

Keep paying for as many months as you like, or just one, and when you don’t need the car any more, just give it back to the dealer. Boom, you’re car-free again.

The assumption is that there’s a considerable population of people who are caught between the high-cost, low-commitment world of car and ride sharing and the variable-cost, high-commitment world of ownership. They don’t want to have a $20,000 asset sitting around doing nothing but costing money, but they also don’t want to pay through the nose every time they want to go more than a mile or two. Where’s the medium-cost, medium-commitment option? That’s where Carma intends to fit in.

“If you’re looking for a week, or a trip, there are a lot of good options that are for fractional use, by the mile or the minute, or daily rentals,” explained founder and CEO Azarias Reda in an interview. “This is for someone who needs a car on a daily basis.”

[gallery ids="1705546,1705559,1705547"]

Young, flighty, commitment-averse millennials are the prime demographic, he noted: “Millennials are the biggest consumer of leases. They’re already driving this notion of ‘I want to access this vehicle but not necessarily own it.’ Subscriptions combine those desires.”

Ultimately the cost is more per month than a lease or ownership, but if what the driver values is flexibility, there’s no comparison.

More importantly, it’s a great option for dealerships. These places have all kinds of inventory sitting around that could be deployed in whatever manner they see fit: a couple for extended test drives of new models, a few older ones paying their way despite being the last four on the lot from last year, a different way to monetize overnumerous used vehicles, and so on.

It’s not the only one — Fair and FlexDrive are startups with similar aspirations and are already on the market. And some car manufacturers offer specific, though often luxury-oriented, medium-term subscriptions. Carma, however, is taking a slightly different tack. While those services are direct to consumers, Carma aims to be a white-label backend for similar services branded and operated by local dealerships and finance outfits.

Carma tested the consumer model but found there was friction from usurping the place of primacy for drivers from the dealers themselves. After all, your local Subaru dealer doesn’t just want to be a lot filled with cars — they want to be a known, local presence and trusted maintenance partner to their customers.

So the deal would be that Carma provides all the infrastructure as far as handling insurance, fleet tracking, user agreements and billing, but it all takes place through an app specific to a dealer or group of them. It allows that direct connection between driver and dealer to stay in place while offering the benefits of subscription to both parties. Dealers would pay a monthly license fee based on the size of the fleet.

Organizations that manage leases could also be the client, providing the subscription possibility to multiple dealers they work with. This is the case in one of Carma’s early deployments in Canada, where a leasing outfit with more than a billion dollars (Canadian, naturally) in lease originations has launched its own branded subscription service, AutoONE.

Allowing the dealers to keep their pride may be a serious advantage over national or international branded services that treat them like inventory management modules. And the mobility market is large enough, of course, that several services should be able to compete alongside one another with variations in offerings and inventory.

After all, why pay for a service with built-in insurance if your job pays for it? Alternatively, why have your own if you can get it month by month for a few bucks more? Want to switch your car every month? Want to pay less to be limited to models three years old and back? These variations will certainly all be put into play.

Reda comes from a computer science and fleet management background at the University of Michigan, where of course some of the sharpest minds in automotive tech can be found. The company is a Techstars alum and is backed by them, Fontinalis, Kybba, Right Side Capital, and IDV — terms undisclosed for now.

The mobility space is evolving fast, and it’s companies like these that keep that evolution rolling along.

Don’t miss out on the After Party at Disrupt SF 2018

The biggest, most ambitious Disrupt event ever is less than two weeks away! Disrupt SF 2018 takes place at Moscone Center West on September 5-7 — that’s three action-packed, business-oriented days of programming. But like you, we know how to have a good time, too. It’s all about balance, friends. And that’s why you do not want to miss the TechCrunch After Party on Thursday September 6.

Disrupt After Parties are the stuff of legend, and this year will be no exception. Expect a ’90s theme complete with fun wearables like glow stick necklaces and slap bracelets. And you can get a tote bag — screen-printed on-site — to take home with you.

It wouldn’t be a TechCrunch After Party without a chance to get your dance on. We’ll have DJ King Mos spinning the best ’90s music all night long — with an immersive Sound Experience from Envelop.

There’s plenty to do while you sip a beverage and groove on the dance floor. Check out the graffiti artist creating a mural, dive into Snapfiesta’s Ball Pit Photo Booth to capture all manner of silliness, or relax, chill and chat in the Super Mario Brother’s Lounge. You can also continue to network — hey, we don’t judge.

Speaking of lounges, Universe presents the Top-Secret Lounge. We can’t divulge the details, but you might find specialty cocktails and a variety of ’90s games — among other things. You’ll have to keep a sharp lookout, though. It’s up to you to find the Top-Secret Lounge: look for discreetly hidden signage to suss out the location and gain access.

We invite all Disrupt SF attendees with an Innovator Pass and above to come and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of tech startups, network in a relaxed environment and burn off the adrenaline rush that comes with experiencing TechCrunch Disrupt. Basic Pass holders should email to upgrade to attend.

In addition to all the craziness we have in store for you, our partners have lined up some activities and giveaways just for Disrupt SF attendees:

Fuel with sweetgreen during Disrupt Week 2018 
Take a break from the action with $10 app credit to use at sweetgreen. Redeem your app credit at our SoMa location (171 2nd St.) — only a 5-minute walk away from Moscone. Grab a (new) friend and come by for lunch or dinner. Redeem your $10 credit with this link. Limited quantities available, so claim your credit before they are gone!

Virtual Workout Session with Aaptiv
Start your day with an inspiring workout led by one of Aaptiv’s personal trainers! TechCrunch Disrupt attendees get free, unlimited access to Aaptiv — on-demand audio workouts you can do in the hotel gym, in your room or on the streets of San Francisco. Choose from more than 2,500 classes for running, cardio machines, strength, HIIT, yoga and more. Get started at

We can’t wait to party with you!

Last chance to buy a Disrupt SF 2018 Startup Alley Exhibitor Package

Last call, folks! Last call to take advantage of the potentially life-changing connections and opportunities that await early-stage founders in Startup Alley. Today is the final day you can secure an exhibit table in Startup Alley at Disrupt San Francisco 2018 — which takes place September 5-7. Buy your Disrupt SF Startup Alley Exhibitor Package today before the clock strikes 5 p.m. PT.

Picture it. You and more than 1,200 exhibitors and sponsors showcasing the latest and greatest in tech products, services and platforms. We fully expect 10,000 or more attendees to descend on Moscone Center West — we’re talking technologists, investors, tech journalists, founders, marketers and entrepreneurs. And this is the last day to snag a pass that lets you place your early-stage startup smack dab in their path.

Here’s what comes with a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package:

  • Two Founder passes for all three days of Disrupt SF 2018
  • One day to exhibit on the Startup Alley show floor
  • Use of CrunchMatch — our curated investor-to-startup matching platform
  • Access to The Main Stage, The Next Stage, The Q&A Stage, The Showcase Stage
  • All workshops
  • Access to the attendee list and ability to message attendees with the Disrupt App
  • Attend the TC After Party

And who knows? Your startup might be one of two selected to compete as a Wild Card in Startup Battlefield — our epic pitch competition with an equally epic grand prize of $100K. If you don’t believe us, check out this story from our Wild Card winner from last year:

If you’re wondering whether exhibiting is worth your time and effort, we get it. Consider what Vlad Larin, co-founder of Zeroqode, has to say about his experience:

“Startup Alley is an outstanding opportunity. We showed our technology to the world and had meaningful conversations with investors, accelerators, incubators, solo founders and developers. Give it your all, and you will not be disappointed.”

Startup Alley goes down at Disrupt San Francisco 2018 — which takes place September 5-7. You have today and today only to grab a table. Buy your Startup Alley Exhibitor Package now.

48 hours left to grab a spot in Startup Alley at Disrupt SF 2018

According to Chinese numerology, 48 represents a determination to prosper — as in business. How fitting, because 48 also represents the number of hours you have left to reserve your place in Startup Alley, the huge exhibition floor at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2018, which takes place on September 5-7.

Disrupt events are all about creating prosperity, so if you want to exhibit your early-stage startup in front of more than 10,000 attendees — including influential investors, technologists, entrepreneurs and media — buy a Disrupt SF Startup Alley Exhibitor Package before August 24 at 5 p.m. PT.

Startup Alley will be home to more than 1,200 early-stage startups and sponsors from just about every vertical. Secure your spot and you can join them as they showcase their latest tech products, platforms and services to potential customers, future investors and more than 400 media outlets.

What do you get in your value-packed Startup Alley Exhibitor Package? We’re glad you asked.

  • Two Founder passes for all three days of Disrupt SF 2018
  • One day to exhibit on the Startup Alley show floor
  • Use of CrunchMatch — our curated investor-to-startup matching platform
  • Access to The Main Stage, The Next Stage, The Q&A Stage, The Showcase Stage
  • All workshops
  • Access to the attendee list; ability to message attendees with the Disrupt App
  • Attend the TC After Party

Plus, every Startup Alley exhibitor has a chance to win one of two Wild Card slots to compete in Startup Battlefield — this year’s grand prize is a whopping $100K. Not only did that happen to Recordgram at Disrupt NY 2017, they went on to win the entire Battlefield!

Only 48 hours left to capitalize on the prosperity potential awaiting you in Startup Alley at Disrupt SF 2018 on Sept. 5-7. Go buy a Disrupt SF Startup Alley Exhibitor Package before time — and opportunity — runs out.

Only 5 days left to secure a spot in Startup Alley at Disrupt SF 2018

You know that feeling when a deadline’s bearing down on you like a runaway train? If you hope to secure a spot in Startup Alley at Disrupt San Francisco 2018 — which takes place September 5-7 — you’d best get moving, because that deadline is coming at you full steam ahead. Your chance to buy a Disrupt SF Startup Alley Exhibitor Package ends on August 24.

Disrupt San Francisco 2018 will be our largest, most ambitious Disrupt event ever, with more than 10,000 attendees descending on the City by the Bay to see the best and brightest tech innovations. It’s also the only Disrupt event happening in North America this year. Those are two huge, compelling reasons to place your early-stage startup in Startup Alley.

We expect more than 1,200 exhibitors and sponsors to hold forth in the Alley as all those attendees — technologists, investors, tech journalists, founders, marketers and entrepreneurs — go searching for the best of the best. Exhibitors will be the front-and-center focus of all that Disrupt action.

Here’s what comes in a value-packed Startup Alley Exhibitor Package:

  • Two Founder passes for all three days of Disrupt SF 2018
  • One-day to exhibit on the Startup Alley show floor
  • Use of CrunchMatch — our curated investor-to-startup matching platform
  • Access to The Main Stage, The Next Stage, The Q&A Stage, The Showcase Stage
  • All workshops
  • Access to the attendee list; ability to message attendees with the Disrupt App
  • Attend the TC After Party

Hello, what’s this? Why it’s a lovely bonus. Buy a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package and you might even be selected to participate in the Startup Battlefield competition in one of the Wild Card spots. Two startups will be selected from Startup Alley to pitch on our main stage at Disrupt SF. You could end up like our Disrupt NY 2017 Startup Battlefield winners, Recordgram, who won the Wild Card selection at Disrupt NY 2017 and went on to win the entire competition.

Disrupt San Francisco 2018 takes place September 5-7. Don’t miss out on all the possible connections, inspiration and opportunities that await you in Startup Alley. Hop on board this train for the ride of your life before the August 24 deadline. Buy your Startup Alley Exhibitor Package now.

Only two weeks left to grab a spot in Startup Alley at Disrupt SF 2018

Fourteen days. That’s what stands between you and the opportunity to showcase your early-stage startup at Disrupt San Francisco 2018, which takes place September 5-7. With more than 10,000 attendees expected to descend on Moscone Center West, can you afford to miss out on that kind of exposure?

We think not. There are only two weeks left to secure your spot in Startup Alley — the very heart and soul of every Disrupt. Don’t wait, buy your Startup Alley Exhibitor Package now.

More than 400 media outlets will be among the attendees coursing through the Alley, perusing more than 1,200 early-stage startups and sponsors exhibiting a dazzling array of the latest — and future-forward — tech products, platforms and services. It’s an atmosphere of opportunity, and that’s not just us bragging. Here’s what Vlad Larin, co-founder of Zeroqode, said about his Startup Alley experience.

“Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt was a massively positive experience. It gave us the chance to show our technology to the world and have meaningful conversations with investors, accelerators, incubators, solo founders and developers.”

Here’s what you get with a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package.

  • Two founder passes for all three days of Disrupt SF 2018
  • A one-day exhibit space
  • Use of CrunchMatch — our curated investor-to-startup matching platform
  • Access to Main Stage, The Next Stage, Q&A Stage, Showcase Stage
  • All workshops
  • Access to the attendee list; ability to message attendees within the Disrupt App
  • Admittance to the TC After Party

Disrupt San Francisco takes place September 5-7. If you want to place your early-stage startup in front of thousands of influential technologists, investors, entrepreneurs and potential customers, Startup Alley is where you need to be. You have just two weeks left to get ‘er done. Buy your Startup Alley Exhibitor Package today.

Don’t miss the interactive workshops at Disrupt SF 2018

Techcrunch’s super-sized Disrupt San Francisco 2018 — the only Disrupt event in North America this year — takes place September 5-7. We’re not kidding when we say brace yourself for three unprecedented, program-packed days. In addition to Startup Battlefield — with a special $100,000 prize — the Virtual HackathonStartup Alley and a battalion of headlining speakers, we’ve recruited leading tech and investment movers and shakers to share their wisdom in the form of interactive workshops.

You won’t want to miss out, so be sure to save time in what will no doubt be a very busy and rewarding Disrupt schedule. Here’s just a taste of our workshop offerings from organizations like NASA, All Raise, Red Bull, SONM, TomTom, Constellation Labs and more:

  • Bleeding-Edge IT Trends Explained: Igor Lebedev, industry expert and CTO of SONM, explains what’s behind the concepts of blockchain, distributing computing and other hot IT trends.
  • Beyond the ICO — New approaches to fundraising and VC’s role in crypto: After emerging from an extraordinary period of fundraising and subsequent growth, Constellation Lab’s COO Ben Jorgensen and his team will share their experiences in an interactive session that explores the complex and ever-changing fundraising models available and how venture capital approaches cryptocurrency.
  • Hacking Human Performance: Join Dr. David Putrino, Red Bull’s High-Performance Center consultant and Mt. Sinai director of rehabilitation innovation, as he explores the use of evidence-based technologies to maximize high performance and human potential.
  • All Raise Roundtables & AMA: Join All Raise and women founders in interactive discussions on major challenges that female founders face — such as fundraising, recruiting strategies, company culture, sales and marketing strategies, board/investor management, M&A and more. Afterward, at the AMA, participants will have a chance to ask the top women in venture questions about whatever is top of mind. Open to all women founders.
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Location-Aware Applications: Gregory De Jans, head of Developer Relations at TomTom, offers a deep dive into the use of TomTom Maps APIs for developers looking to leverage the power of location insights. Learn about APIs for map display, search, routing, traffic and map SDKs.
  • Bringing NASA Technology Down to Earth: Whether you want to start a company, improve your existing products or develop new ones, NASA may be the source of your technology solutions. Join Dan Lockney, the agency’s technology transfer program executive, as he explains how NASA works with companies to develop new products and services.
  • More Just Music: Bose has been innovating in audio for 50 years, from creating tiny speakers with room-filling sound to noise-canceling headphones. Come hear about the latest innovations in audio and their new venture fund from members of the Bose team.
  • The Current State of Location Services: What progress has been made in the pursuit of an autonomous world? How have recent changes to provider price plans impacted the industry? Why is this the optimal time for developers to embrace location services? Discover why the question of ‘where’ is more relevant than ever before. HERE Technologies chats geocoding, routing, and positioning to build location-aware features.

Disrupt San Francisco 2018 takes place September 5-7. Whether you want to learn, network, compete, exhibit or launch your startup to the world, Disrupt SF 2018 is where it all happens. Still need tickets? Buy your passes right here. We can’t wait to see you there!

Volunteer at Disrupt SF 2018 for free admission

Forking over your cold, hard cash isn’t the only way you can score a ticket to Disrupt San Francisco 2018 on September 5-7. We’re looking for volunteers willing to trade their time to help us produce our biggest, most ambitious Disrupt conference ever. And what do you get in return? One complimentary Innovator Pass that gives you access to all three days of Disrupt. Interested? Apply here to volunteer today.

This is a chance to attend the show without spending a dime while getting an up-close-and-personal look at what it takes to produce one of the most iconic startup events of the year. Whether you aspire to be a startup founder, marketer or event coordinator, this is a great way to see how it all gets done.

We’ll put you to work at a variety of tasks, which might include stuffing VIP goodie bags, assisting with registration, scanning tickets, directing attendees, placing signage or helping with pre-marketing efforts — any number of things to help make Disrupt SF 2018 an outstanding experience for everyone.

Here’s what you need to know (a.k.a., the fine print):

  • The deadline for volunteer applications is August 15.
  • You must attend a mandatory in-person orientation on Tuesday, September 4, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Moscone Center West.
  • You must be available to work up to 16 hours during the entire conference starting from September 4 (the day before the conference starts) to September 7. You’ll find volunteer shift availability in the application. We might select you for some pre-event opportunities, which would count toward your hours.
  • You must provide your own housing and transportation.
  • Due to the high volume of applications, we will notify only the selected applicants.

There you have it. Work exchange is an awesome way to attend Disrupt SF 2018 without spending money, to see what goes into producing an event this size, and to experience three program-packed days of tech-startup goodness. The deadline for volunteer applications is August 15. Apply right here. We appreciate the assist!

Last day for Disrupt SF Virtual Hackathon submissions

If you’re still working on your submission to the first Virtual Hackathon at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2018 on September 5-7, then you’d best start praying to the caffeine gods and chug another Red Bull. The deadline you need to hit rolls in tonight, August 2 at midnight PST — no second chances on this one, folks. Give your coded creation a final round of tweaks and tests and then submit your hack right here.

Previous TechCrunch Hackathons lasted 24 hours, took place on-site, showcased incredible talent and generated some amazing winners, including:

  • Quick Insurance — the easiest way to purchase an insurance product for all your valuable stuff (Disrupt Berlin 2017)
  • Alexa Shop Assist — lets you ask Alexa where to find products in a store (Disrupt SF 2017)
  • reVIVE — a VR solution that provides both a diagnostic and treatment mechanism for ADHD (Disrupt NY 2017)

In this, our first, Virtual Hackathon, literally thousands of talented developers, programmers, hackers and tech makers from around the world have been hard at work since June to show how they’d creatively produce and apply technology to solve various challenges. We cannot wait to see what comes from their efforts.

Here’s how the judging works. We’ve recruited a top-notch panel of experts to review all eligible submitted hacks and rate them on a scale of 1-5. The 100 top-scoring teams each receive up to five Innovator Passes to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018.

Out of that group, the top 30 teams will enter the semi-finals and get to demo their hack at Disrupt SF next month. The judges then select the best 10 teams, and they will present and demo their product on The Next Stage. One team will be crowned the first TC Disrupt Virtual Hackathon champion and take home the $10,000 grand prize.

In a classic, “but wait, there’s more” moment, our sponsors have created some incredible challenge hacks, and they’ve put plenty of cash and prizes on the table. We’re talking contests sponsored by Sony Pictures, United Airlines, BYTON, TomTom, Viond, HERE Mobility and Amazon. Check out the full listing.

The first Virtual Hackathon goes down at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2018 on September 5-7. And if you want a shot at winning anything, you have only a few more hours — tonight, August 2 at midnight PST — to submit your hack. It’s time to get ‘er done!

Disrupt SF 2018 early-bird prices extended for one more week

The tech gods and goddesses must adore procrastinators, because we were suddenly compelled to extend our early-bird pricing on passes to Disrupt San Francisco 2018. It kills us to see folks paying more than necessary, so you now have until August 1 at midnight PST — another full week — to get your tickets and experience all the tech and VC goodness that Disrupt San Francisco 2018 has to offer. Don’t put it off; go buy your tickets today.

Our most ambitious Disrupt event takes place at our new, larger venue, Moscone Center West, on September 5-7. If you haven’t heard, this will be our only Disrupt event in North America this year, and we’ve gone all-out to make these three days special and value-packed.

Startup Battlefield is always frenzied excitement, but this year, we super-sized the stakes. The grand prize? $100,000 in non-equity cash. The competition will be fierce, and we can’t wait to see how it all goes down.

We’ve gone global with a Virtual Hackathon, which features thousands of the world’s best tech-heads, coders, designers and programmers hacking some incredible creations and competing for a $10,000 grand prize. And thanks to our generous sponsors, we have a bunch of amazing hack contests that offer thousands of dollars in cash and prizes.

Every Disrupt offers an incredible list of speakers, and this year may stand out from the rest. We’re particularly excited to have some of the top women in the VC world grace our stage. We’re talking Megan Quinn, a general partner at Spark Capital; Sarah Tavel, Benchmark’s first — and so far, only — female general partner; and Aileen Lee, who coined the term Unicorn and has formed her own company, Cowboy Ventures.

Whether you’re a founder, an investor, a marketer or a job-seeker, you won’t find any better place to network than Startup Alley. Our exhibition floor features more than 1,200 early-stage startups showcasing a range of technological goodness with a particular emphasis on these 12 categories: AI, AR/VR, Blockchain, Biotech/Healthtech, Fintech, Gaming, Privacy/Security, Space, Mobility, Retail or Robotics/IoT.

Founders and investors can make their networking a whole lot easier by using CrunchMatch. That’s our free business match-making service that connects early-stage startup founders and investors who share similar business interests and profiles.

Disrupt San Francisco 2018 takes place on September 5-7. So many great reasons to go, and now you have one extra week to buy your pass. Early-bird pricing ends on August 1 at midnight PST. Depending on which type of pass you choose, you can save up to $1,200. Don’t pay more than necessary. Buy your tickets today.