Wise Words with Bill Diffenderfer


The world of car rentals can provide a frustrating experience. The choice of vehicles on offer can be varied in quality, and the rental process can be time-consuming. Often potential customers want to rent a car at short notice, if they are flying into a particular location and need to get to a particular venue at a certain time, for example.

Co-founder of Silvercar, Bill Diffenderfer, was keen to simplify this process. Silvercar customers only have one model of car they can rent – the silver 2013 Audi A4, and can book their vehicle through mobile with cloud–based profiles for each customer allowing a quick verification process. The intention is that the customer can jump into their rented vehicle and get on their way as quickly as possible. We put our questions Bill to find out how his team’s take on the rental sector is coming along.

1. Where did the idea for Silvercar come from?

Silvercar is a collection of ideas, but at its core is the idea of just offering one car type. That idea was our co-founder’s, Todd Belveal. As he says, that idea came from too many bad car rental experiences.

2. Can you describe a typical working day?

One of the great things about working at startups is that there is no typical working day.

3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on Silvercar?

When it’s your start-up, you never really get away from it and relax. In the early stages, start-ups are so fragile that you worry about them and hover over them continuously. Still, I play golf to take my mind off Silvercar – just a different obsession!

4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?

The secret ingredient is an inexhaustible determination to do it. No quitters allowed.

5. What drove you crazy when building your business?

You always have a love/hate relationship with the technology. In theory everything works and goes smoothly – that’s what you plan for, but there are always little kinks, and things that have to be reworked just slightly for everything to fall in place. That can slow things down, but it’s also just part of building a tech start up.

6. What motivates you to keep going?

The desire to build a great new company from nothing. It’s a work of creation. Done well, it makes customers happy, employs people and rewards investors. And it is FUN!

7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I learned long ago not to second guess. I love where we are, so I’m happy with the path that got us to this point.

8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?

Silvercar is currently offered at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and at Austin Bergstrom International Airport as a rental option. But we’re not stopping there. We plan to expand to at least two other airports by the end of 2013. Our future locations will be disclosed as plans and contracts are finalized. As for the next five years, it would be wonderful to have a presence at every major domestic airport – we’ll have to see how things go. And of course we’ll be listening to the market and our customers. There could be something different that’s needed. We plan to evolve with market and technology needs.

9. If you weren’t working on Silvercar, what would you be doing?

Writing another book.

10. Tell Springwise a secret…

Startups all begin with a single leap of faith – believe in yourself.

11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

See the answer to question 10. Take babysteps and be picky about the ventures you start. If you have several ideas for a good business, start with the most manageable and work from there. You may have a fantastic idea that could really take off, but if you start with that one, you may have to endure learning curves that you could have learned on something less daunting.

Thanks Bill!

You can read more about Silvercar here, or visit the Silvercar site here.

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