Hear more from Mazzella at Convergence Paris 2013.
Before agreeing to ride in someone else’s car, you’ll most likely want to know whether you can trust the driver. If the person is a friend or family member, chances are you already do trust him or her. If it’s a total stranger, though, probably not. No surprises there. That’s long been a barrier to ridesharing.
Frédéric Mazzella, co-founder and CEO of the ridesharing marketplace BlaBlaCar, wants to change that. His company enables users to create profiles to help build trust. And it’s working: In a survey of members of his online community, he found that those who post complete profiles on the website generate a lot of trust -- more than an average neighbor and almost as much as a friend.
Mazzella has published the survey results at the website Betrustman.com. On June 26, he’s scheduled to present his findings on trusted online communities at GreenBiz’s Convergence Paris.
This is a favorite topic of conversation for Mazzella, who also invites users on his website to rate themselves based on how talkative they are. Someone who’s quiet is a Bla. A moderate talker is a BlaBla. A motor mouth, you could say, is a BlaBlaBla. As for Mazzella? “I think I’m a BlaBlaBla,” he says.
Here’s an excerpt from a recent conversation with Mazzella:
GreenBiz: From your online videos, it’s clear that you place a great deal of value in the idea of trusted communities -- so much that you’ve created a superhero named Trustman. What have you learned about trust in your experience as an entrepreneur and founder of BlaBlaCar?
Mazzella: I learned that it’s a complex thing because it's a human thing. It’s made of many, many, many indicators, plus time, plus engagement. When I say time, it's based on the past interactions you may have had with someone and the future that you can foresee. And then it's built on many, many different kinds of information, like it has some declarative information, some rated information, some moderated information.
GreenBiz: Can you describe the effect that trust in the community has had on the development of BlaBlaCar?
Mazzella: It has accelerated growth, of course. And it has also made people say different things about us. Before people used to say, "Well, I don't know exactly with whom I'll be riding." Now they don't say that anymore. That is the most important thing. They get enough information before getting in the car with someone so that they feel they know who they'll be riding with.
Photo of BlaBlaCar CEO Frédéric Mazzella courtesy of BlaBlaCar.
Next page: Introducing trust, building a reputation