Get a lift on Ridefare
Steve’s breakdown: Ridefare thinks it has it figured out. They certainly have enough Uber & Lyft drivers on the team to have first-hand experience. That’s why we think this is a good time to get in there and help out.
SCOTTSDALE, AZ: As the competition for profits between transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft continues to soar, a Scottsdale company wants in on the action.
Ride Fare LLC was launched by former Uber and Lyft driver Aron Lemisch, 35, last May with a $1.3 million investment that has been spent perfecting its technology.
The company lets passengers choose favorite drivers rather than just whoever is available and doesn’t implement higher “surge” pricing during busy prime times.
It’s about the drivers
“If I am a parent and I can’t get out of work to pick up my kids to soccer practice, at least I have a driver I know,” said Lemisch, who lets passengers schedule up to seven days in advance.
“Surge pricing is a good concept, but I think it’s a little bit broken system. I just feel like it should be capped off. For me it’s a kind of gouge. Would you say to your client, ‘By the way, this time it will be 10 times more than you paid before’?” Lemisch said.
Ride Fare’s business card prominently features the words “Drivers Matter” and Lemisch contends that its system helps drivers make more money.
Drivers are paid 80 percent of every trip. Drivers or passengers — whoever refers another passenger or driver to the app — earn 10 percent override on their trip. For a driver, that is 90 percent income and, for a passenger, credits are earned for the next trip with Ride Fare, he said.
“Our primary focus is empowering drivers. Work with them and give them the tools to build sustainable business,” Lemisch said. “If drivers are happy, they are naturally going to give a great experience for the passengers.”
Ride Fare joins competitive market
Since the new category of service called Transportation Network Companies was approved by California regulators in 2013, ride-sharing apps have grown quickly. The United States has Uber, Lyft and Summon, while the world is chasing the trend with Didi Kuaidi in China, Taxify in Estonia and Grabcar in Singapore.
The Ride Fare app hit the market on Jan. 19. A week later, the new company received its first real passenger on the road.
Although Ride Fare hasn’t done any marketing yet, many drivers showed interest even before it was available online. Lemisch held an open house earlier in January to provide support and answer questions from potential drivers.
As of early February, 125 drivers had signed up on the app and 25 passengers had downloaded it, said Lemisch, who is counting on the benefits that Ride Fare offers to attract more drivers.
Jason Sargent, 32, recently began driving for Ride Fare. He’s worked for six ride-sharing companies and now says if someone asks him which app they should download, he suggests Ride Fare.
“The founder used to be a driver and he knows how it is for our drivers out there to make that dollar bill,” Sargent said, noting that Lemisch doesn’t send too many drivers out at one time to flood the market.
He also doesn’t exact a hefty 25 percent portion from the drivers, as is the case of competitors.
Looking to get better as it grows
For Lemisch, Ride Fare is still testing and fine tuning its process, as well as seeking additional funding by showing the app to potential investors.
“We continue looking, improving, fixing bugs, so many things can go wrong. You don’t really know until it actually runs out to the real world,” Lemisch said. “Technology is very expensive.”
According to Crunchbase, Uber’s total equity funding is $8.61 billion and Lyft has $2.01 billion.
But it is not an easy business. Competitor Sidecar was forced to shut down operations and sold its assets to General Motors Co.
Sunil Paul, the CEO of Sidecar, wrote in his blog: “We were unable to compete against Uber, a company that raised more capital than any other in history and is infamous for its anti-competitive behavior.”
Ride Fare is trying to get more investment by showing the app to potential investors.
Lemisch has confidence in Ride Fare’s future and points out that more people are paying attention to it lately.
“Even someone from Australia called us,” he said.