In the past few months, Nico and Christina Poletti as well as Andreas Schuierer, the founders of Cluno, have collected around $ 36 million. Investors of the Munich startup are heavyweights such as Valar Ventures, the investor of Peter Thiel, Acton Capital Partners and Atlantic Labs. Behind Cluno hides a flat-rate provider of vehicles. Customers pay a fixed monthly price for their car at Cluno. This includes all costs except fuel. After six months, customers can change their car at any time.
“To the outside for the user Cluno is the digital car subscription, thus a mobility form. Customers subscribe by car to an app and pay a fixed, monthly all-inclusive package price. On the supply side, we buy and refinance cars and supplement them with services such as insurance, vehicle tax or registration. That’s the fintech component, “says Poletti, describing the concept behind Cluno. In an interview with deutsche-startups.de, the founder of Cluno also talks about forms of mobility, experienced people and the necessary amount of luck.
How would you explain your grandmother Cluno?
Grandma, that’s like the Otto catalog: You choose your car and get it delivered to your home. Paying then works like your bowling club: You pay a monthly fee, there is everything in it, except refueling.
Has your concept changed somehow since the start?
No, we follow our vision very focused and with great conviction.
How exactly does your business model work?
Cluno is 50% Mobility and 50% Fintech. Outwardly for the user is Cluno the digital car subscription, thus a mobility form. Customers subscribe by car to an app and pay a fixed, monthly all-inclusive package price. On the supply side, we buy and refinance cars and supplement them with services such as insurance, vehicle tax or registration. That’s the fintech component.
How has Cluno evolved since its inception?
So much so, that we’ve raised $ 36 million in funding from well-known VCs like Valar Ventures, Acton Capital and Atlantic Labs in a single year.
But once butter with the fish: How big is Cluno meanwhile?
55 employees work in our 1,200 square meter office. Since October 2018, we’ve seen 10,000 app downloads and strong growth in all areas. For example, we have many partnerships with dealers and automakers. Meanwhile, we can provide 50 different car models from ten brands. Our customers come from all over Germany – from Garmisch to Flensburg – and are between 23 to 75 years old. So we are addressing an immensely broad target group. Everyone who wants to be mobile with their own car.
You have just come up with around 25 million euros. Not even a year earlier 7 million. What do you need so much money for?
Cluno has the potential to radically change the € 420 billion market for car buying, financing and leasing in Europe. We are investing heavily in expanding our lead and continuing to increase our growth. You need money for that.
Is this money enough for a while, or are you looking for more donors?
Good startups raise money to grow stronger and not to have the longest possible rest. From the beginning, many VCs have been interested in our work and we still have a lot to do.
Before Cluno you already founded easyautosale. What experiences from the foundation have flown into Cluno?
At easyautosale we brought too late experienced people on board and did too much ourselves. Today I’m looking at the Cluno team and I’m just impressed: There are so many great, very experienced people here – that has allowed us incredible development in the last 12 months. When we sold easyautosale, cars worth 100 million euros were marketed via our platform every year. Of course we have learned a great deal and now a deep know-how in the areas of automotive, residual values, marketability, customer acquisition, etc. That helps us a lot today!
So far you are only active in Germany. Are you already planning to move to other countries?
Germany is once a great market: With 40 million cars, the market is very large and also many automakers are located here. That’s a great starting position. Our target group are basically all people who have bought, leased and financed cars so far. This logically makes Europe our market. Many foreign markets are also already in the use of new technologies, such as electric cars, which we already have in our portfolio today. We therefore take a close look at which countries are particularly attractive to us.
Please take a look back: What has gone wrong since the launch of Cluno?
It has not really popped anywhere, otherwise we would not be where we are. Nevertheless, one has to say that building the business model of a full-stack car-subscription provider is ultra-complex and has always been a real challenge for us car experts.
And where have you done everything right so far?
I think in terms of team, VCs, focusing and timing. But we also had the necessary amount of luck, that’s just part of it!
Where is Cluno in a year?
We sit with you for an interview in our office and talk about the further successes and the strong growth until then. And of course we take a joint look at the mobility of the future.
Also published on Medium.