Torsten is the founder of coseats.com, Australia’s biggest rideshare site that connects drivers and passengers around Australia. Torsten is a software developer and spent many years in the IT industry before starting coseats.com. He is passionate about collaborative consumption and wants to establish ridesharing as a viable transport alternative in Australia.
The amount of times I’ve been advised to do further studies, find a better job, or invest in real estate drives me nuts. Less debt and more ideas is what we need in this country.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
I was standing in the taxi queue at Sydney airport when I thought all these people waiting here for 45 minutes are probably going to very similar destinations, so why dont people share taxis? From there the idea has grown into a more general ridesharing service. We now connect travellers, backpackers, commuters and people willing to share taxis to the airport.
The coseats.com website was launched at the end of 2011 with the aim of connecting travelers, backpackers and commuters. Coseats.com recently launched a co-operation with Melbourne Airport to encourage people to share taxis to and from the airport. We’re also working with Australia’s biggest event organisers to encourage people to carpool to Bluesfest, WOMAdelaide, Woodford Folk Festival and many more. With over 10,000 users and 30,000+ rides coseats.com is Australia’s biggest ride sharing site.
How do you make money?
We list camper relocation offers on our website and get a referral fee for every successful relocation. Backpackers love this stuff because they get a camper and accommodation for next to nothing. I wish coseats.com had been available when I backpacked around Australia! In addition there is a bit of money coming in through online advertising. We’ve been profitable since day one and we’ve hardly scratched the surface of what is possible in the ridesharing space. Our aim is to become the Airbnb in the transport industry.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
Were currently working on user reviews, to allow users to rate each other and their ride sharing experiences. Trust in fellow ridesharers is key to our future success so were looking forward to this new feature. There are also lots of opportunities in other markets that we want to pursue in the medium to long-term. I think ridesharing has a great future ahead. It’s not for everyone, but the people who do it, love it.
How do you make ideas happen?
As quickly as possible. One of the great things about online sites is the possibility to experiment on the live site to see whats hot and what’s not. It makes great ideas crumble and little ideas flourish and it’s always surprising.
What does your typical day look like?
Breakfast, lunch, dinner. In between I develop the site, talk to users and get excited about new ideas. I think it’s really important to have time to lie on your back and ponder ideas.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?
Not too many really. I’ve been really surprised how easy it is to set up and run a company in Australia. Having said that, I think the biggest challenge is a lack of acceptance in our society for entrepreneurs giving it a go. The amount of times I’ve been advised to do further studies, find a better job, or invest in real estate drives me nuts. Less debt and more ideas is what we need in this country.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Talk to your customers. We recently put a chat tool on our website. So while my minds entangled in “if – else” statements, I get people telling me that we forgot to put a logout button on coseats.com! I hear you people, the logout button is coming soon…
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry at the moment?
In Australia, only coseats.com I’m afraid to say. However, there are awesome developments in the ridesharing space…internationally, especially in Europe.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
It’s not about business, it’s about ideas and people. One of the great things about living in a free society is that you can make your ideas happen. Whether you do it by setting up a business, getting involved in politics or any other way is irrelevant. What counts is the idea and the people who make it happen.
Name a website you would recommend to our readers?
macrobusiness.com.au – if you’re interested in economics and business that is. Slightly off topic…
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?
We just joined twitter (@coseats). As a Twitter virgin Im yet to make sense of the Twitterverse myself!
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
Yes, share your rides on coseats.com! On the business side, we need people who specialise in marketing, advertising, social media etc. Any advice / expertise in this area would be priceless.
Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good-looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.
Smart, creative, talented and good-looking! Can I be your friend?
Whats your favourite bar/caf/restaurant?
Kent St on Smith St. Only problem is I don’t live in Melbourne anymore!