The latest travel startup pitch comes from Tripda, a platform to connect those offering long distance ride sharing to those travelers seeking the same. Previously relegated to Craiglist postings, social media mentions and word-of-mouth introductions, long-distance ride sharing has yet to receive the same "sharing economy" treatment as many other types of transportation.
Tripda is a minion in the Rocket Internet army, and has already clocked enough growth to merit 70 employees on staff.
The interface is quick and intuitive, offering the standard search features expected from a travel-related site. It's immeasurably better than scrolling through Craigslist postings while also featuring a profile of both driver and passenger to bake more trust into the community.
Read on for the Vine, Tnooz Q&A and the brand's promo video at the very end.
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.
Tripda has four co-founders: Adi Vaxman and Joe McFarlane, managing North America, and Pedro Meduna and Eduarto Prota, who manage emerging markets. Joe and Adi met at a Sharing Economy event in NYC, and while speaking to investors brought up the idea of long-distance ridesharing, each from their own personal story.
An analyst for a VC told them that he heard that Rocket Internet was in early stages of forming a similar idea. Joe and Adi then approached Rocket with an interest to launch a similar service in North America. The timing and idea aligned, and they joined Tripda’s founding team, with Rocket’s funding.
Tripda already operates in 12 countries across Latin America and Asia, and is growing quickly and expanding throughout these regions.
Tripda already has more than 70 employees globally. Our four co-founders are Adi Vaxman, Joe McFarlane, Pedro Meduna and Eduardo Prota.
What are your funding arrangements?
Tripda is backed by European Internet Platform Rocket Internet. We are well supported and also looking forward to additional funding and growth. We are currently in process of raising a series A round with a tier-one US VC and we are confident we can obtain the funding we need to successfully expand throughout the United States. Our team is fully focused on continuing to advance our business and bringing it to new markets.
What is your estimation of market size?
80% of cars driven on US highways have no one in them but the driver. The US is an attractive market, and largely untapped. The amount of time people spend in traffic is going up and millennials’ car ownership percentage is going down. There’s more college debt than there used to be and more focus of young graduates in big metro areas. All of these make for a great business opportunity and Tripda is really excited to be pursuing it.
Please describe your competition.
The most commonly known attempt to do what Tripda does was made by Zimride starting in 2010. Zimride chose a similar model targeting schools and universities in a B2B model and gained some good traction. Later on they pivoted into a peer-to-peer on-demand for-hire transportation model, then became Lyft and abandoned the true long-distance sharing model.
What is your revenue model and strategy for profitability?
At this point we are focused on growing our user base and making our platform the app of choice to all drivers and passengers looking to make similar trips. In the future we may take a small fee for matching drivers with passengers.
What problem does the business solve?
People looking to get from one place to another often have limited options. Some are extremely inconvenient, some are time consuming, and some are very expensive. Many of these people choose to drive but end up alone in their car just like 80% of all cars driven on US highways.
Tripda solves all of these problems. Tripda lets travellers:
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
- Find or offer a ride quickly and on one convenient platform, via web or mobile app
- Reduce travel expenses by sharing/splitting costs with travel buddies
- Support the environment by maximizing the use of existing resources and reducing the number of cars on the road
All of our founders have their unique story on how/why they came up with the idea. Adi, while studying at Cornell University, used to spend hours posting and searching message boards and email lists for people who want to share her long drives to NYC on weekends.
Joe has lived in NYC for the past four years and did not own a car despite his love of road trips, making him think that there’s an opportunity that needs to be pursued. Pedro and Eduardo have each travelled around the globe looking for a better way to get from one place to another and make it into a real journey – this is how Tripda came about.
Why should people or companies use the business?
Because it is a convenient, economic, environmentally-friendly, social and fun way to travel!
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
Tripda has a network of “brand ambassadors” on college campuses all over the US. We are actively pursuing partnership opportunities and would love to team up with cool events, festivals and sports games to help them get their fans to where they need them to be!
Tripda also appeals to car-poolers commuting to and from work in busy metro areas, so we’ll run promotions targeting that audience as well. The message is: don’t take the trip alone and share expenses with your colleagues – it’s a win/win for everyone involved.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
Our vision is to turn Tripda into a viable, everyday alternative travel method for people travelling between cities Just like they would consider the train, the bus or a flight; they should look at Tripda in the same way.
We want to reduce the number of cars congesting our highways and major travel routes by increasing the number of passengers in each car. We are ready to face any challenge, work together with regulatory agencies and provide our members with superior customer experience to make that happen.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that it requires a startup like yours to help it out?
Inter-city travel is cumbersome, expensive and inefficient. 80% of cars traveling on US highways are only occupied by the driver. In the NYC metro area alone, in 2011:
- 544 million hours were spent by drivers in traffic congestion (highest in the nation)
- 255 million gallons of gasoline were wasted due to congestion (also highest)
- 59 hours per car passenger were spent in congestion vs. 11 hours in 1982. That’s a 536% increase
- $11.8 billion were spent in expenses related congestion
- 1 billion pounds of CO2 were produced in 2011 during congestion delays, which translates to 557 pounds of CO2 per car passenger. That’s the highest producer of CO2 in USA by almost 1.6 billion pounds.
(Source: Texas A&M Transportation Institute)
What other technology company (in or outside of travel) would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style... and why?
We like to think of ourselves as the Airbnb for travel. Airbnb matches hosts with guests in a similar way and mission to take advantage of existing resources and let people offset the costs of being away from home.
Tripda matches drivers and passengers going the same way to offset the costs of travel and reduce the impact on the environment.
Which company would be the best fit to buy your startup?
Google, Uber, Airbnb, any of the large rental car companies?
Describe your startup in three words?
Ride-sharing made simple!
I have personally spent many a time searching through Craigslist ads for rideshares, so this pain point is spot on. The demand is most certainly there, and as the sharing economy continues to show strength, more users will be comfortable with these random encounters with strangers. There's far less explaining that needs to be done - most people just get it.
Like any marketplace, scaling is the key. With solid funding and a large team, it seems like the startup is well-positioned to drum up both supply and demand, although its never easy to keep both sides of the equation happy.