Our founder, Andrew Christopher recently wrote a blog for the University of Kent explaining the process of setting out his long-term dream to reinvent the driver education industry for the digital generation with his business, LDrive with the help of ASPIRE at the University of Kent and Santander Universities.
What is LDrive?
Well, first off…. we’re not a driving school – we don’t want to be! LDrive allows 750,000+ annual learners to book driving lessons at their price, and 40,000+ approved driving instructors to teach lessons on their terms including services, prices and schedules with no overhead leadership or franchise fees.
This is in view of both markets together achieving their objectives; learners cutting costs on passing their test as quickly as possible with the best-rated instructors, and instructors earning more business cost-efficiently. All on a mobile platform.
What was the inspiration behind LDrive?
When learning to drive, I was frustrated with the experience I had in my driving school including high costs, lack of amenability and finding it difficult to engage well with my instructor who was chosen at random by the driving school. I then left and moved to my cousin, an independent instructor, who recently left a driving franchise. He spoke of his struggles working in a franchise but also working independently; struggling in finding students to teach and making consistent income, due to lack of exposure and heavy cost to promote his service.
I always had a sought interest in creating problem-solving mobile applications. When I was 15, I created a carpooling mobile app called ecomumy to help parents share and ease the school run process. ecomumy achieved over 10k+ downloads, national press attention in the UK and endorsement from HRH Charles Prince of Wales with the Prince’s Trust for its contribution to carbon offsetting. I loved how a product I created to adhere to mine and my parents’ personal problem when travelling to school suddenly became a nationwide resolve for many families in similar situations.
With this kind of proven success, my envision with LDrive is to disrupt learner driving likewise with mobile technology, engaging millennials to cut the costs on passing their test, and for instructors to get more business, establishing leadership by undercutting ageing driving schools’ businesses in the UK. For many learner drivers and I, lessons are far too expensive and as such, fewer people are incentivised to learn. For instructors like my cousin, it is difficult to maintain their businesses and their income. The industry is also far too aged and has not caught up to both markets’ modernistic needs as the world becomes more mobile reliant. LDrive is here to fit these needs.
How Kent has contributed in nurturing LDrive to a full-fledged business?
When I arrived at the University of Kent (UoK), I found myself in a minority amongst my peers. We had one class with our lecturer Adam Smith in 1st year where he asked us to raise our hand for either of the following two statements:
“I want to work for a big well-renowned corporation after I graduate from university.”
“I want to start from nothing and work my own way through many obstacles to the very top.”
Probably unsurprisingly – 90% put their hands up for the first statement. But the huge contrast in interest was such a shock to me. Yet, I always wanted to persevere my own journey – to take risks in life, to face the good and very bad days, to stay up at night working on my project whilst the majority were asleep to begin their systematic 9-5 job call the next day. I immediately classed myself as an entrepreneur.
The University’s ASPIRE (Accelerator Space for Innovation and Responsible Enterprise) project group always empathised for those who take a different path. I became known to ASPIRE almost immediately and was so humbled with their openness to new ideas. I had the idea of LDrive in my head for such a long time – even before joining the University. It was actually only in my final year when LDrive came to fruition with ASPIRE by winning their 2019 Business Start-up Journey (BSUJ), having pitched the idea to a panel of industry experts.
Since then, I used the investment upon the development of LDrive’s product. I also received useful marketing and financial advice for the business by ASPIRE’s Project Officer Rebecca Smith, Entrepreneur in Residence Adam Smith and Investor in Residence Karen Winton respectively to begin the validated learning process and conceive the appropriate scaling plan of the business.
Where is LDrive now and what are the future steps?
LDrive is now in the process of gathering a team. I onboarded 8 intern undergraduates from the UoK to help execute the company’s go-to-market strategy. Their roles entail from product development, design, marketing, sales, support, legal, and content.
We have recently been nominated by ASPIRE to represent the UoK in Santander Universities Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme.
Santander has invested over £500,000 in UK businesses with its incubation programme to cover the 4Ms:
Motivation for a start-up business.
LDrive will partake in several webinars that will help the company for investment readiness, getting to grips with data, and customer-focused marketing. Their accelerator is aimed to give us a unique educational experience led by a series of innovative businesses and speakers, delivering content sessions, panel discussions and keynote speeches.
Over upcoming blogs, I will be discussing more about LDrive and our participation through Santander’s exclusive journey as we participate in a series of workshops and masterclasses aimed at helping us understand how to get the most from the company.