Electric cars are expensive, but Zoli Honig and Isaac Deutsch created a way for people to drive them for free for a limited time. It was made possible with their ride-sharing startup, WaiveCar. Advertisers paid for the ride, as their ads would be displayed on the vehicle. The founders pitched the company on Shark Tank and got a deal with Kevin O’Leary. As of 2023, WaiveCar is worth an estimated $5 million.
About the Founders
Zoli Honig is an entrepreneur from Miami, Florida and studied mechanical engineering at NYU’s Polytechnic School of Engineering before pursuing economics at Queens College. To support his studies, he worked as an IT consultant at KJ Technology Consulting.
During college, he founded two startups, Berrylicious Yogurt and ZZ Tech. Both firms were active for more than three years. After this, Zoli focused on two new companies, Chalkable and VISR. He is very open about his background, the same can’t be said for his partner, Isaac Deutsch.
Founding the Company
As electric cars became more popular, the two gentlemen got the idea to start a car-sharing service. Zoli and Isaac planned to open the first car-sharing service that used just electric vehicles.
More importantly, they let clients drive them for free for two hours. The ride was paid for by companies that put adverts on the vehicle. If users exceeded the time limit, they would pay $5.99 per hour.
WaiveCar launched in 2016 and over 3,000 people in Santa Monica signed up to their app. Shortly after this, they bagged a one-year partnership deal with Hyundai and got 180 new cars placed in LA.
Shark Tank Appearance
The startup gained strong traction within five months of launching. Zoli Honig and Isaac Deutsch felt that it would be enough to convince some investors to fund their expansion. They appeared on season nine of Shark Tank, seeking $500,000 for a 2% equity stake.
The Sharks had mixed opinions. Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner felt that the business model was not solid enough. Guest Shark Chris Sacca thought it was nothing new to what other companies were already doing.
Barbara Corcoran and Kevin O’Leary made offers, but the latter was more persistent in getting his hands on WaiveCar. O’Leary gave out a $500,000 loan with 12% interest for 2% equity and 80% off of unused ad space.
After Shark Tank
After Shark Tank, WaiveCar expanded outside California and placed new cars in New York as a test. Plus, they set up a partnership program with California State University, which was sadly halted in 2020.
Since then, the company has faced many challenges. They eventually shut down their app and website. On social media, they teased the possibility of a return someday, but it appears likely.
The founders later launched Waive Work which was a variation of their old business model. Waive Work rented out cheap electric cars to those looking to earn money driving for Uber and Lyft. This venture failed to gain a foothold in the market and fizzled out. The ridesharing industry is rife with competition and even Uber struggles to make a profit.
According to Crunchbase, WaiveCar was acquired by REEF Technology for an undisclosed amount. The company wasn’t profitable and only had 250 vehicles on the road at the time of the deal. Both co-founders now work for REEF, a real estate startup that remodels parking facilities.