Anybody who has been to the US will know this- getting around is tough. RidePost wants to change that.Unless you live in a select few cities in the US, taking a train or catching a bus is not really an option. You drive everywhere. If you’re like me and don’t own a car, you either rent a car, bum a ride with a friend or buy flight tickets. Last weekend, I had my first experience using RidePost. This post will be a review of that experience.
A little background first- the co-founders, Marty (@bauermarty) Nibu (@Ni_Bu) and Blair (@BlairDeckard) are classmates from the IMBA program at the Moore School of Business. Their venture, RidePost links travelers with drivers heading in their direction. Travelers get a cheap ride, drivers subsidize their trips, RidePost makes a small commission, everyone’s happy. Or are they? Lets find out-
Why? I wanted to fly to Jackson, MS to attend my best friend’s wedding. I live in Columbia, SC and the flight from here was $430. Charlotte, NC which is 93 miles and 1.5 hr away is a major airport and the flight to Jackson from there was only $265. There is a $50 shuttle service that picks you up from your home bringing my effective ticket price to maximum of $315, a saving of $115. So, I booked the flight out of Charlotte and began to look at how I would get there.
Register: I went on to the RidePost website and registered. For safety reasons, RidePost makes it mandatory to connect to your Facebook profile. This way, potential co-travellers get a better idea of who you are. This may put some people off, but I went ahead with it anyway.
Post: This was easy. I posted the date and time I wanted to head out, the pickup point, and the destination. The site recommended that I pay $20 for the ride, but I reduced that to $15. Ride Posted. Done.
Get a Ride: I struck gold within a day. A Robert Pearce accepted my Ride request. I was asked to confirm within 24 hrs whether I still wanted to go and I did. I could have checked out his reviews or his Facebook page, but the allure of saving $35 made me throw caution to the wind.
Payment: Once you agree to your ride, you put in your credit card details. If I remember correctly, they don’t charge you until 24 (or 48) hours before your ride. That way, you have ample opportunity to back out if need be.
How was it?
–Robert Pierce arrived at my apartment bright and early at the pre-decided time (7.30 AM) in a black Toyota Camry.
-Turns out Robert Pierce is the fourth member of the RidePost team and builds the website. He was heading to Charlotte to meet his girlfriend.
-Your chances of meeting a co-founder are pretty high because the four of them post a lot of rides to (a) keep their costs down and (b) have a lot of rides posted
-The ride was way better than with the Shuttle Service. For one, the driver of the shuttle does not know about LOST or Heroes or that the state insect of SC is the praying mantis. With great conversation, the 1.5 hr journey flew by
-Something Robert said struck me and I quote,
“We aren’t McDonald’s. We aren’t delivering flavorless efficiency. We want to offer our riders and drivers an authentic American experience.”
Would I do it again?
-Absolutely. I’m already planning my Christmas travels through Charlotte
-The money savings of ($35 on this ride and $150 including the cheaper flight) are a huge draw for me
-Aside from the money, the experience. This one was a great one. Maybe, the next one might not be so entertaining. Either ways, it adds more value, more X-factor, more depth to my travels than a vanilla shuttle service.
-Safety is a concern for a lot of people. RidePost realizes that and that is why they are collaborating with TrustCloud to make the service even safer to use (TrustCloud story)
-RidePost are riding the wave of the “Sharing Economy” and I sincerely hope they succeed. To do so, they have to build a large base of active users ie users who don’t just register, but also regularly post rides and ride requests. I know that they are looking to tie up with universities, sports events and concerts to get the word out. Those kind of tie-ups will definitely help them reach the critical mass required to truly be a viable transportation option.
-In the meantime, they would do well to target the large population of international students studying in US universities. The University of South Carolina has 1300+ international students of which 42% are Indian or Chinese. From experience, this segment usually doesn’t own cars, operate on tighter budgets and already have a culture of sharing ingrained in them. They are also easy to reach through their student organizations’ newsletters, Facebook pages and cultural events.