, a peer-to-peer car sharing service, launched Monday at Stanford University.
“We all remember what it’s like to struggle to find a car in college, or to own a car that you can barely afford to maintain,” says founder Jeff Miller. “The winning P2P model must simultaneously meet the needs of car owners and drivers. To date, nobody has mastered this – we see that as our opportunity.”
One company has tried to master it, but hasn’t made much progress yet. GetAround won TechCrunch Disrupt NYC and is essentially the same service, without the college focus. But four months later, it has yet to launch. It did raise $3.4 million earlier this month, though.
Wheelz has been quietly working since early 2011 with $2 million in seed funding. Early Facebook employee Chamath Palihapitiya is an investor.
Wheelz integrates Facebook to make sharing cars a social experience. The Facebook integration helps car owners identify renters and see if they share any connections. Wheelz also runs a DMV check on all drivers and renters.
Insurance, of course, is a big issue for car rental companies, but Wheelz has that covered. It has a $1 million insurance policy in place that provides complete coverage during rentals. It also offers 24/7 roadside assistance from its in-house team too, the Wheelz Pit Crew.
In addition, Wheelz allows owners and renters to rate each other. Wheelz also offers an iPhone app, much like GetAround’s, that enables on-the-go reservations and unlocking — no physical car keys need to be exchanged.
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