Interview with Joseph-Seal Driver, founder of Havn
Joe, thank you so much for taking part in our interview series as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Here at Bloom, we celebrate the bravery of the entrepreneur, the passion of the small business and the energy and innovation that comes with a startup - all these areas that you and your business represent - so let’s start there; tell us about your current business venture.
Thanks, Stephanie. Havn is the new chauffeur service from Jaguar Land Rover in London. We’re using the award-winning Jaguar I-Pace, and we’re also employing chauffeurs - so we’re not using subcontractors or gig economy workers. We’re very new and quite exciting entrance to the London market.
Yeah, super exciting! You’re really new as well, it’s only been going for a matter of weeks now right?
Yeah, I think we’re in our sixth or seventh week now.
Amazing! So how did it all start? What was the idea for you in the first place?
We knew that Jaguar had the pedigree in this area, and that they make these fantastic cars for chauffeurs, and with the electric I-Pace coming out this year, Jaguar wanted to work in this space and so there’s a few ways that can happen; you can “snog, marry, kill” - you can partner, you can build something yourself, and we decided to launch Havn in London - partly because of the I-Pace, but also because we saw a gap in the market. All the other operators in London looked a bit stale to me - black and white branding, people were subcontracted, and the quality to the end user was a bit variable (good service, but variable) - so we thought that, actually, by using the I-Pace, employing the chauffeurs, and focusing on the quality and sustainability angle, would mean that we can carve out a niche.
Definitely, “doing things properly” which feels like the industry needs a bit of that - dare I say!
Yeah it feels like there’s a bit of that, and we’re already seeing a good response from corporates and business accounts who want to use us because of that positioning.
Amazing, and this is totally your world, right? Your career has always been in the mobility space (to one degree or another), so was that part of the plan? Has it always been your big passion?
Realistically, I think I just fell into it. Straight out of university I worked as a sustainability headhunter, and I managed to place myself (as the only placement I made just before the recession in 2008!) So I ended up working with Zipcar, that’s where I started my career and worked since then - for the last 12 years - in just mobility.
Good to be in that position being on the frontline so you can get the pick of the crop!
It is useful! There’s a developing ecosystem of mobility companies in London now who are using tech and I think it’s quite an exciting ecosystem to be a part of.
So would you class yourself as a bit of a petrolhead?
No! I probably shouldn’t say that, I do appreciate a fantastic car and like driving cars - I don’t like sitting in traffic (who does?) What I do like - when I get a spare moment - is push bikes. That’s my go-to engineering fantasy!
There are all these exciting and innovative things happening in the space of mobility, spurred by the fact that we’ve got an overpopulation problem - especially in London, where we’re sat at the moment - but of course also the whole environmental conversation, so there are advances happening across electric vehicles, how that’s impacting regulation, etc. What are your views on the future of mobility now?
It has to be electric. Havn will only ever use electric vehicles or zero-emission vehicles. We’re also purely focused on middle-distance and airport journeys. We don’t think you should be taking a ride-hailing vehicle around the city for short journeys - you should use the tube or a bike for that. The electrification of vehicles is really exciting, also micro-mobility; I have some background in micro-mobility too, and, just today on the way in, I saw so many people on modified e-bikes in London and I think that’s going to really change how we move, so I’m really excited about that move.
And what about scooters?
Honestly, I like them and I would use them if they were here, but I still like bikes more! E-bikes have benefits to health etc. and I think of course scooters will become part of that ecosystem, but I’ll always be a bike guy!
Fair enough! So more on your entrepreneurial journey: having the firsthand experience of starting and building your own company - what do you think are the top character traits that you need in order to fulfil that role?
Persistence, application, and fear - I’m scared all the time of failure, which makes you work harder! When I speak to other entrepreneurs, they’re genuinely petrified of failure, so that’s really useful as a tool that can drive you.
I also think, knowing when to rely on your teams What we’ve got here at Havn are really good people who get they’re part of the business. You have to be emotionally intelligent enough to understand when to let them lead and when to ask those questions - and it’s still something I’m learning! Let your team shine. Cheesy, but honest answer!
I like it! Ending on our entrepreneurial crystal ball: what are your predictions for 2020 and the decade to follow?
I think it’s really easy for me to go back to electrification the opportunity there because of air pollution etc., will mean that electric vehicles will happen in London and I think Havn is at the forefront of that.
I also think micromobility will really take off, with subscription and owned services as well shared services. I think we’ll see a huge rise in that over the next year, next summer will be quite telling - that’s when it will start to be more visible and more mainstream.
Interesting. Any final words or pieces of advice before we say goodbye?
I’ve been really surprised by the amount of people who will help if you ask. Take the lucky breaks when you can get them, and ask for help!
Fantastic, thank you again so much Joe, really appreciate your time, and all the best with Havn!
Thanks Steph, all the best.
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