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Planet42: Democratising mobility in South Africa, Mexico is next

On June 17th, the online pitching event Unicorn59 brought together investors from around the world and Estonian startups looking to raise money in the next six months. During the event, participants heard the pitches of 7 innovative startups, among them, a socially inclusive car subscription service provider – Planet42.

Here the two co-founders, Eerik Oja (CEO) and Marten Orgna (CFO), shine a light on the background of the company, their greatest milestones and plans for their current fundraising.

Championing social inclusivity

Planet42 tackles transport inequality in emerging markets. Currently based in South Africa, the mission of Planet42 is to democratise mobility with a socially inclusive car subscription service. The company partners up with local car dealerships and rents second-hand cars to its customers.

“The socially inclusive bit means that we focus on underbanked customers. In emerging markets, around 80% of adults lack access to a vehicle. Although they have bank accounts and the means to get a car, most of them are simply ignored by the banks, which only focus on prime customers,” Orgna explains.

The implications of this exclusion are wide-ranging, as there is also a lack of good alternatives to get around. Often, the public transportation system is slow, unreliable, and even dangerous. Those who can afford it, spend a fortune on getting to work via ride hailing apps.

Scaling in South Africa and expanding into Mexico

Since 2018, Planet42 has been building and refining their service in South Africa. Having achieved their product-market-fit, it is now time to scale and expand. Next up, the company aims to have their operations set up in Mexico by the end of this year.

For the concept to work, Oja explains, any chosen market must have certain variables covered. For example, South Africa and Mexico have relatively well-developed infrastructure, and both also have a big population of underbanked customers. “Additionally, for us it is important that any market we enter is big enough – this is the only way we can maximise our impact through the amount of people we serve,” Oja adds.

Planet42 is currently looking to fund exactly this expansion, as well as scaling their operations in South Africa and growing their team in Tallinn. “At the moment, we are aiming to raise 20 million euros equity capital, and 200 million euros debt capital over the next 18 months. We have already managed to raise 25 million euros, so the door has been opened,” Orgna says.

Current milestones and a vision for the future

Since buying the first car in 2018, Planet42 has by now bought over 3,000 cars for their customers in South Africa. “Of course, the next milestones will be 4,000, 5,000 and eventually our goal is to reach 1 million cars by 2025. But for us, the most important thing is to just keep expanding car access among those that need them. 93% of our clients would not have a car without us. It is difficult to overstate the importance of owning a personal car in markets, where the alternatives for mobility are few and even dangerous,” Oja underlines.

As of this year, the positive social impact of Planet42 is also carbon neutral. The founders are well-aware of the negative environmental impact their activity has due to car emissions. To minimise their footprint, Planet42 has started to invest in carbon offset projects, leading to their certification as a CarbonNeutral® company by Natural Capital Partners.

“Carbon neutrality is not our primary selling point; it is rather a baseline standard we believe every company should adopt. We hope it also sends a message. If a small startup in South Africa can accept their environmental responsibility, it is not okay for large enterprises to make carbon neutrality promises for 2050. That is too slow. We are already carbon neutral now, and all companies should be,” Oja concludes.

If you are interested in investing in Planet42 or some other Estonian startup, feel free to contact us via e-Consulting in order to schedule an appointment with one of our investment advisors who will be happy to help you on your journey to start building your unicorn in Estonia.

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