Will Long Distance Travel Be The Next Ridesharing Victory?
There’s nothing like being home for the holidays, or so the song says anyway. And given the 46 million or so travelers AAA predicts will be hitting the roads, rails and sky starting next week, there must be something to it.
More interesting though is that the vast majority, around 39 million, will drive. But, if newly launching ridesharing service Tripda has its way, a lot fewer of those drivers will be traveling alone.
Unlike on-demand” ridesharing services Uber or Lyft, Tripda is more a marketplace that tries to match people who need rides with those who are already going there. Originally launched in Brazil in May of 2014, Tripda is now ready to take on the U.S., co-founder and CEO Adi Vaxman told PYMNTS in an exclusive podcast interview.
“What we are doing is we are matching people not for a ride that’s happening right now, but instead we are matching people on planned rides that are normally longer distance. Our average ride is usually 100 to 300 miles.”
Tripda works by creating a marketplace that essentially allows those who are travelling to sell the empty seats in their car.
“If I’m going on a business trip from New York to Boston next week, “ Vaxman noted as an example “and I’m going to be driving there, I may as well offer my ride out there on the Tripda marketplace and take other people who might want to travel to Boston with me.” They get to tag along, and the Tripda driver gets some money to offset the cost of the trip.
According to Vaxman, the company, by its design, is all about three goals: building communities, saving expenses and leveraging existing resources more efficiently (thus reducing the number of cars on the road).
“We are really excited to be doing this here, we are really big believers in the sharing economy and the fact that we can contribute to 1) solving a problem for a lot of people, 2) reducing costs and 3) saving the earth while we’re at it. I think now is really the right time for us.”
And it’s a right time, according to Vaxman, that has only really evolved into being recently.
If Tripda’s idea seems familiar to you, it should. No, it’s not the internet’s version of hitchhiking, but tons safer. But back when Lyft was still called Zimride, it attempted a similar long-distance ridsharing service that never quite ignited. However, Vaxman noted, though it was similar in some regards, it was also a different business model, especially initially.
“Four years ago, in 2010, they tried to do something similar, but they were a B2B model, and were trying to sell their services to specific corporate and educational communities. That worked fairly well.”
The B2B version of the service saw moderate successes, but when Zimride experimented with offering the long-distance ridesharing as a consumer service it didn’t see the same level of interest. Shortly thereafter re-focused on on-demand ride-sharing which proved more profitable.
“They found this winning horse that is currently Lyft and that’s working for them,” Vaxman said.
However, because of the roads – no pun intended – that Lyft, Uber, AirBnB and the other high visibility sharing economy start-ups have traveled already, attitudes have changed. Vaxman believes they’ve changed enough that long-distance ride-sharing deserves another try.
“The evolution of the sharing economy over the last few years has really opened the door for us to be doing what we’re doing now and to be successful. I really don’t think this was the case a few years ago when Zimride was doing what they were doing.”
And it’s a belief that has attracted followers, notably Germany’s Rocket Internet, which is Tripda’s main backer and investor. Vaxman declined to reveal exactly how much cold hard cash they’ve seen from Rocket, she noted that it’s been substantial enough to allow them to launch first globally in South America and Asia, and now in the United States, which was always the company’s eventual goal.
That itself, is unusual goal for its main backer since Rocket is more famous for taking American start-up ideas and investing in foreign rebuilds for international markets. Vaxman conceded that a U.S. launch is a little outside of Rocket’s MO, but said that they were highly supportive of the move.
“Working with Rocket is awesome because as an entrepreneur you get a lot of resources you can leverage.”
Unlike their shorter distance/on-demand counterparts, Tripda calls on riders and passengers to spend extensive amounts of time together, and so the service is interested in making sure users pair up well. User profiles in the marketplace feature a glimpse into other users’ Facebook pages, a detailed profile and extensive user reviews. Shortly after their U.S. launch the site will also feature “community badges” that identify users as associated with specific businesses or universities. Addtionally, women can request to ride only with other femaies.
“Our goal is to give both travelers as many tools as possible to make the right decision about which of the rides offered on our platform they would want to take.”
So will riders take those rides? Only time will tell. Vaxman noted that their beta test has been progressing well and that so far the surprises have only been good.
And, what’s the next journey for Tripda?
Seeking out American investors for their next funding round, of course.
Last week was pretty busy for investors who dumped ~$4B into FinTech investments. Like last week, the big chunk of that activity was on the retail payments side, it took down nearly 77 percent of the total investments this week–but that is a decline from last week when retail accounted for almost 90 percent of investments.
Banking services saw the most investor love this week, while last week’s favorite, Loyalty/Rewards, fell to the bottom of the list. Joining Loyalty and Rewards in its new place on the bottom were , prepaid , digital wallets and mobile money
The biggest single deal of the week was was the acquisition of Susquehanna Bancshares by BB&T Corp. for $2.5 Bn followed by the acqusition of Yayoi by Orix Capital Corp. The biggest investors last week were Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe ($100 M), Wellington Management ($80 M) and Bessemer Venture Partners ($18.1 M).
The median investment amount was $5.3 Million.