The eagle-eyed among you will notice a new partner adorning the rear wing endplate of the Manor Racing team this weekend. In the latest of the teams Fast Companies Series, non-profit rideshare company Ride Austin will be supporting the team. Joe Deshotel, Director of Community Engagement explains the Ride Austin story.
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What does the business stand for, how it came about, how it differentiates itself from the likes of Uber or Lyft?
Ride Austin is a nonprofit ride-sharing company started by local tech entrepreneurs after Uber and Lyft left Austin in mid-May. We were built from the ground up with a focus on the Austin community. Every feature we’ve implemented as either essential to the platform or a popular request from our users and drivers.
We’ve been embraced by the community because we understand Austin values and this is why we’ve included a “Roundup” feature that allows riders to round up their fare to the nearest dollar and donate that to a local charity.
The RideAustin nonprofit model is an opportunity to view mobility as a service, bring transit options to under-served communities, and by sharing data, help governments, riders and drivers make more informed decisions about transportation.
We had a successful partnership with Honda for ACL Festival (after Uber dropped their sponsorship) and now we are partnering with Manor Racing Formula 1 Team for the big Austin Grand Prix.
How many days has Ride Austin been in operation, how many trips have been provided in that time?
We first launched on June 15th and since that time we’ve given nearly 300,000 rides! And over $13,000 people have chosen to round up to charities through our “Round up” feature.
What are the future plans for Ride Austin?
We have been contacted by cities all over the country wondering how we did what we’ve done so quickly and whether we could bring our model to their city. Currently, we are 100% focused on building the best ride-sharing app for Austin, but there is a famous saying around here that, “what starts here changes the world.”
We will continue to grow and create partnerships with companies large and small to help increase mobility options for commuters and provide a safe ride home for folks who may have overindulged at one of our many popular bar districts. We are also exploring how we may partner with our local transit authority to help reduce traffic congestion and provide last-mile services.
Who are the investors, what else do they do?
As a nonprofit we don’t have “investors” in that sense, however, we have a board made up of our two co-founders Andy Tryba and Joe Liemandt. Both are very successful tech entrepreneurs who supported Uber and Lyft staying in Austin but took advantage of the opportunity to innovate once they decided to leave.
What does COTA bring to Austin?
As an innovative start-up, we know Formula 1 brings top talent to Austin whether they are investors or creators and that helps to reinforce Austin’s image as a leader in tech and entrepreneurship. Many of the teams have top sponsors who are in the transportation technology field and we look forward to having them experience Ride Austin while they enjoy the city.
How important is Formula 1 to Austin? Does the city change when the sport is in town?
Many Austinites look forward to these races even if they aren’t lucky enough to attend. It brings many international visitors to our city and with them commerce that is enjoyed by local bars, restaurants, hotels and locals that are employed by them. Others simply enjoy the associated parties that surround the main event.
What will you be doing with Manor Racing over the race weekend?
I’ll be fortunate enough to visit the track and meet the team at several points throughout the weekend. Besides that, I will be helping to coordinate media exposure for our partnership with Manor Racing and ensuring Austin knows that they are our city’s unofficial home team.
What attracted Ride Austin to Manor?
Coincidentally, there is a suburb of Austin as well as a major local street named Manor, so even on the surface, there is a cool and fun local connection. Beyond that, they describe themselves as having a start-up mentality and their Fast Companies Series presented a great opportunity for us to highlight our shared values around innovation and entrepreneurship.
Simon Pavitt, Marketing Director at the Formula 1 team noted this about the partnership:
“RideAustin is a true community-led Austin company, pioneering the rides-haring movement in this fantastic city. Its innovative strategies resonate wholeheartedly with the Manor Racing approach as the Formula 1 team with a startup mentality and an upstart ambition. With a really busy weekend ahead, partners such as Ride Austin and Airbnb really make life easier for us and our supporters. We’re really looking forward to making the most out of our time in Austin on and off the racetrack.
Responding to an opportunity in the highly dynamic ride-sharing sector, Ride Austin has grown from start-up to market leader in only 130 days.”