Talent Awards Winners’ Stories, part 3: BlaBlaCar

The Talent Awards is a unique ceremony that rewards the teams behind the best scaling stories of the French Tech ecosystem. Taking place at the France Digitale Day in Paris every September, the Talent Awards reward startups in various categories and highlights their stories to prove that tech can be impactful and sustainable all the while being a successful business, and thus supports positive change in and outside the ecosystem.

In 2021, altogether eight scale-ups were rewarded in categories such as Global, Diversity and Future of Work. In this article series we interview each of the winners and ask them to share their key to their success.

The Community category of the Talent Awards celebrates the story of a team who successfully engage their customers and create a sense of belonging for them. It rewards in particular the Customer Success & Community teams. It is one of the two new categories introduced in 2021, alongside ‘Future of Work’.

The 2021 winner of the Community prize was BlaBlaCar. Marlène Ribeiro, Senior Executive Director at Michael Page and the representative of the jury for this category, explains the jury’s decision:

The DNA of Blablacar is definitely community driven, not only by the original business model but through functionalities that use all the strength of the community, for the community. It was obvious that Blablacar had to win this prize, congratulations!

BlaBlaCar is the world’s leading community-based travel network. They are present in 22 countries (Western and Eastern Europe, with LATAM & India) and have over 100 million members who share the road together.

BlaBlaCar was created in 2006 with one dream in mind: to fill the millions of empty seats on the road. “Unacceptable waste!” thought Fred Mazzella, Founder & President, on his way to see his family for Christmas that year, seeing all these empty cars on the highway.

Ever since, they have been leveraging the power of technology and smart algorithms to match drivers and passengers and fill as many empty seats on the road as possible. #ZeroEmptySeats

Today, travelers can choose to travel by bus and carpool, long-and-short distances, all the while connecting with people and saving CO2. Every year, carpooling saves 1.6M tons of CO2 and enables 120M human encounters.

Why do you think you deserved the Community Award?

We have a very dedicated team, and make sure that with the growth of our community, the quality of support follows. We receive about 5,000 tickets a day, and treat each and every member of our community, no matter the country, with the same level of excellence. 

We also invest in our people with trainings and support teams, in order to ensure this level of quality and commitment stays high. Currently, there are 500,000 members for every agent at BlaBlaCar! We also make sure to leverage technology and invest in the best tech we can afford to continuously enhance the support provided by our team (95% of our content moderation is done via AI).

Finally, we have a creative approach in the way we communicate with our community, as we have a community of BlaBlaHelpers (member ambassadors of the BlaBlaCar platform), who are part of our support family and help out newbie members. We have about 100 active members currently.

Some words about your win?

It is a great honor to get recognition from France Digitale, a community of like-minded companies and actors of the tech ecosystem. We are very focused on our community and our members and want to improve their experience every day, be it with the product or with the support we provide. Our aim is to really disrupt both the mobility and customer relations industry.

Secondly, carpooling doesn’t work without trust. That notion is truly reflected in our work: everything we do, and the way we interact with our members, is in order to infuse trust in the member experience and complement all other areas of the BlaBlaCar experience.

What should our tech ecosystem replicate from your “scaling story”?

Thinking glocal: Hire locally to get as much local expertise and insights as you can while still implementing global processes and workflows to be lean and efficient in your operations.

Invest in people & technology: structured onboarding of agents, regular trainings, monitoring the team NPS (as important as customer NPS), etc. Having a dedicated tech team to improve internal tools and processes (the tech team at BlaBlaCar is called Care).

Collaborate with other teams: organize job sharing opportunities for other teams to learn about customer relations and our tools (called Member Day at BlaBlaCar), interact regularly with product teams and continuously give product feedback.

How did you structure your team / process to create these best practices?

At BlaBlaCar we have 3 main divisions: Operations (then broken down geographically), Trust & Safety (focusing on incident management and fraud prevention), and Operational Excellence (working closely with the tech team to provide best in class tools, innovate and provide trainings & knowledge-sharing).

Where are you now? What are your current challenges? And what profiles are you looking for?

We have a bright future ahead! We just raised $115M in funding to support an offensive growth strategy to keep filling empty seats on the road, further digitalize road travel in markets outside of Europe, expand our bus network in Europe, and start extending our multimodal offer to include trains.

A big focus for us internally is the roll out of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy, intended to make our workplace and hiring practices more inclusive, support women in tech, and increase diversity in leadership. It’s the start of a long, exciting journey!

To make all of this happen, we’re scaling the team massively, hoping to fill 300 positions by the end of 2021. We’re looking for engineers, data specialists, product managers, designers, strategy analysts, talent acquisition managers, and more. If you want to build the future of mobility with us, find our open positions here!

Learn more about BlaBlaCar:

  • Read more about their culture through their six principles which guide their decision-making and bring them closer to their goal.
  • They were featured in the first Tech4Values guide in 2021, in which they share their best impact practices.

The Community category was sponsored by Michael Page, a worldwide leader in specialist recruitment. Established in London in 1976, they now have an office network spanning six continents. We asked them why they chose to sponsor the Community category: 

Community is key for many sectors including the recruitment industry. A strong community makes you reach hidden talents on the early stage of the journey; community feedback enables an accurate candidate experience.