Startup RidePost launched its peer-to-peer ridesharing platform in August, connecting users who need a ride with drivers who have extra space in their car. The company is part of startup accelerator program The Iron Yard, and presented to investors at this week’s demo days. The company also announced it has partnered with TrustCloud, a startup that assigns a “Trust Score” to individuals, to help increase security for both drivers and passengers.
RidePost was inspired by successful ridesharing initiatives in Europe, where co-founder Marty Bauer was studying abroad as part of his studies at the University of South Carolina. “When Marty was in Germany, he started ridesharing when he got time off from school on the weekends, and he saw most of Europe that way,” Deckard said in an interview. “He could afford to do it, he didn’t have money to take trains. And when we got back to the university, we all kind of landed on ridesharing, as we’re all passionate about travelling and developed the idea as a project for the last semester of our program.”
RidePost allows users to browse and post rides for free, and drivers can set their own prices, although it recommends setting a price of 20 cents per mile. Users can pay online with their credit card (the company has partnered with Balanced Payments on their backend), and the company takes 10 percent of each transaction. The money only gets deposited after a ride is successfully completed.
As with any ridesharing program, one of the big concerns for drivers and passengers is safety. Recognizing that, RidePost’s partnership with TrustCloud is an effort to help both drivers and passengers find out more about someone based on their online reputation. Drivers will be able to see potential passengers’ Trust Score (if they have one), which is based on their social media and online activity on sites like eBay, LinkedIn, and Twitter, before they get in the car.
RidePost also requires those who are posting rides to log in through Facebook, so their profile includes their picture and general info. “We just wanted to have a name and face to every transaction. We really wanted to move away from the Craigslist model where you have no idea who you’re dealing with. And honestly today, when I meet someone it’s very easy knowing someone’s name and see their Facebook profile to learn a lot about them,” Deckard said.
There has been a lot of recent activity in the ridesharing space with the emergence of companies like RideJoy, which raised $1.3 Million earlier in the year to provide a very similar experience, and as RidePost’s founders know, it’s already a popular practice in Europe with companies like carpooling.co.uk at almost four million members. Other car exchange services have come up as well, including GetAround, which lets users rent out their own cars when their not being used. RidePost strives to differentiate itself by focusing on a more robust safety experience with their TrustCloud and Facebook integration, and will be looking to target the university market in hopes of getting a large student following, starting with their very own University of South Carolina.
The company will be looking to launch an iPhone and Android app soon after securing funding. They are currently focusing on gaining market share in South Carolina and surrounding states, with strategic promotional partnerships in place with select campuses. Another focus for them will be promoting RidePost as a way for people to come together for large gathering and events around the country, giving students and others hoping to go to music festivals a way to cut costs on gas. With other popular ridesharing services already available for drivers, and with companies like Uber hinting that they might start ridesharing programs, Ridepost’s focus on students could help it differentiate in a busy market.