Munich Startup: What does your startup do? What problem are you solving?
Daniel Ulman, STM Cars: At STM Cars, our dream is of a better life in a livable city – of a future where you no longer have to own a car to be mobile. Of a city where existing vehicles are used instead of just being parked somewhere. At the moment, however, there aren’t any stress-free alternatives to having your own car, for example for a trip to the countryside, to go skiing or for a lakeside break. This is exactly where STM Cars comes in. STM Cars offers a platform for the day-based rental of electric vehicles with an end-to-end solution – convenience first!
Jakob Scherübl: An electric car is booked with an app and then delivered to your doorstep within 150 minutes. Electricity, fully-coverage car insurance and 200 kilometers per day are included in the booking. After use, you simply park the vehicle in the Munich city area and we take care of the rest.
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Daniel Ulman: The concept of renting existing vehicles already exists and is nothing new. However, the implementation is often flawed. In most cases, it fails due to the lack of a marketplace, complicated processes for both the owners and users and a lack of trust by the individual parties. Moreover, efficient scaling has been difficult so far due to the combination of technical hardware and software, logistical processes and communication with a wide variety of stakeholders.
With our interdisciplinary team of operations experts and techies, we’re optimally positioned to pull off the balancing act.
“We decided very early on to focus exclusively on electric vehicles”
Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?
Daniel Ulman: The company was founded based on these simple questions: “Why should I own a car in the city? What would an alternative need to look like to be able to replace my own vehicle?” The first year (2021) was about getting to know the market – while simultaneously going to university (full-time). We founders, Jakob and Daniel, took care of the first 200 handovers ourselves and talked to almost every rental customer and always got feedback. This allowed us to create a service that comes very close to having your own vehicle – and many other features are still under development. Very early on, we decided to focus exclusively on electric vehicles to make the transition to a sustainable future easier and to support our vision of a liveable city.
Many of our rental customers told us they were not quite ready to give up having their own car yet, but that they would only used their cars one to two days a week. So in addition to our own fleet, we also decided to increase the use of existing, unused vehicles – initially just with company vehicles.
In the second year (2022), we got our company to a point that makes the business model scalable. This was when our third co-founder, Sebastian, joined us. Since Jakob and I, Daniel, mainly provide the operational and business-related experience, Sebastian completes the team with his tech expertise. The year 2023 is starting with a funding round and big expansion plans!
Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Daniel Ulman: Our biggest challenge in recent months has been developing a smooth booking process with our app. In contrast to conventional companies, we wanted to enable digital and user-oriented booking right from the start – without any annoying paperwork. The implementation of a virtual fleet and fully digital processes cost us some time and certainly a sleepless night or two.
Mindset shift away from owning your own car
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?
Daniel Ulman: In one year, we would like to have a strong position in Munich’s transformation of mobility. This should be reflected in a larger fleet that we can offer our users. The aim is to achieve a mindset shift – away from the need to own a car towards conscious use. Further steps we see for implementation include the continued development of the product and the enhanced expansion of our B2B service.
Our plan for the next five years follows the motto ‘The sky’s the limit.’ Our aim is to conquer Germany’s major cities and to go international.
Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?
Daniel Ulman: In my opinion, the Munich startup ecosystem is incredibly valuable for the success of a startup. As an active member of the student initiative Start Munich and as a regular participant in events such as Inspire & Dine (CDTM), Royal Jungle, Bits & Pretzels and UnternehmerTUM events, I’m confronted with the ideas of other founders on a daily basis. In this kind of environment, you’re almost forced to innovate and try new things quickly. On top of that, my impression of the Munich startup ecosystem has always been of one that is well educated, interested in starting companies, open and helpful.
Munich Startup: Hidden champion or shooting star?
Daniel Ulman: Since we’ve just started our scaling phase, I would still call us a hidden champion, but I see us as a rapidly growing startup in a vast market. So we’re definitely moving towards becoming a shooting star. We’d love to have you follow our journey!