Auro Travel is a Spain-based ridesharing company founded by Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, who is still the company’s largest shareholder. Its competitors include Cabify and Uber, which require licenses to operate their vehicles in Spain. The number of these licenses is strictly limited, forming the primary basis of competition for ridesharing in Spain. Auro has performed well during the last couple of years, particularly with regard to its sustainability. Betancourt Lopez’s success with Auro Travel is largely driven by gathering the right team and understanding customer preferences.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez believes that the senior management team is the most critical requirement for a successful company. Coming up with good ideas is certainly important, but executives need to turn those ideas into something real. This will never happen without the right people in key positions.
The qualities Betancourt Lopez looks for in a founding team before investing in that company include a strong work ethic and sincere belief in what they’re doing. They must also see problems, rather than solutions. As Betancourt Lopez says, “The most important part [is] that people get behind the issues and understand right away what could be the potential solution, because that keeps the drive going.” Additional qualities that Betancourt Lopez looks for depend on the idea the team is trying to implement. For example, the rideshare market is different between cities, which Auro takes into account when expanding its operations.
Understanding Consumer Preferences
Ridesharing is a tightly regulated market in Spain, so Auro needs to comply with many regulations in addition to providing high-quality service that meets customers’ expectations. This business environment requires a highly proactive approach to successfully navigate, which provided Auro’s founders with an advantage over its multi-national competitors. The founders had already developed their vision and acquired the ridesharing licenses in Spain before competitors entered that market.
According to Betancourt Lopez, Auro was able to gain a foothold because its competitors “had to arrive and then the cost of entry or the barriers of entry were much higher for them because they were late in the game.” Betancourt Lopez adds that Auro went further by building its infrastructure based on its drivers, allowing it to achieve an advantageous position very quickly.
The ridesharing market in Spain will evolve very differently than in other markets due to its high degree of regulation. This market is less regulated in countries like the U.S. and U.K., leading to lower barriers for entry and stronger competition. As a result, it’s more difficult for ridesharing businesses to make money in other countries.
As Betancourt Lopezsays, “In Spain you do have that different element which allows you to actually provide a better service and be prepared to look into different angles.” He adds that ridesharing is a more closed market in Spain, allowing players to focus on providing quality service. Regulations for ridesharing are constantly evolving, creating risk for these businesses. It’s difficult to predict these changes, so Auro must stay on top of them to ensure it remains in compliance.
Auro is always looking for new technologies to improve its service and remain competitive. Artificial intelligence (AI) has a particularly strong potential to affect the ridesharing market in the near future with advances like self-driving cars. Betancourt Lopez believes this technology be implemented in stages, largely due to its controversial nature. Introducing these cars suddenly could put many people out of work at the same time, resulting in a severe economic disruption. This issue must therefore be examined carefully to ensure it will be a win-win for society rather than a win-lose scenario.
Betancourt Lopez says, “You could save a lot of cost by having a car drive itself, but you’re leaving somebody out of a job. So, it needs to be a way where you still provide jobs but you make it a more efficient service.” He further suggests that the best way of using AI in the ridesharing market at this time is to predict the best routes, thus providing more efficient service without taking jobs away.
However, Betancourt Lopezalso believes that destroying a job ultimately creates another job in some way. This has been the case since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, requiring society to adapt each time a technological advance occurs. The key to obtaining acceptance to such a change is to present it in a way that allows society to also see the upsides as well as the downsides. These developments must also be implemented so they quickly create more jobs than they destroy.
Auro Travel is the largest provider of private car services in Spain, with about 2,000 ridesharing licenses in that country. Betancourt Lopezfounded the company in 2017 as a local competitor to established multinational companies like Cabify and Uber. Analysts considered it to be a risky move at first, but BetancourtLopez’s strategy has paid off with the creation of Arrow. This division of Auro licenses its ridesharing licenses to other companies who want to operate in large Spanish cities like Madrid.
Betancourt Lopeznormally takes a hands-on approach when he creates or invests in a company, as is the case with Auro. He remains fully involved with his firm by planning strategy and selecting key executives. Betancourt Lopezalso has a direct hand in developing Auro’s mobile app, including updates, testing and marketing. This app was launched in late 2021, which created the opportunity for Auro to become a direct rideshare operator, rather than just providing other operators with licenses. Betancourt Lopez also plans to expand his company outside Spain to challenge Europe’s major private transportation players.
The ridesharing industry will continue to evolve rapidly, especially in Spain. Several of these companies are already expanding into related areas like food delivery, creating fierce competition for multiple services. However, Betancourt Lopez believes these markets will eventually contract, allowing for a more focused and sustainable market landscape.