A few months ago the ACT announced it would be regulating ridesharing services like Uber X as part of a set of wider transport reforms, with The Daily Telegraph reporting this week that the NSW Government was gearing up to do the same. Though the changes to widening consumers’ transport options are are slow to be legalised, the fact that there is indeed progress is heartening.
But carpooling, one form of ridesharing, has actually been in decline. Back in the 80s, 20 percent of people were carpooling, but that number is now only 7.8 percent. We’re more transient as people – we move communities, we change jobs, we move house. There is actually a real need for carpooling, but what’s missing is the how. Platforms like Uber have short trips covered, but what about the often longer work commute?
The consumer sector of the ridesharing market is starting to become quite crowded, but there are a number of opportunities that exist where ridesharing companies can target large corporations instead of end-users directly. Sydney-based startup Liftango is looking to do just that with its corporate ridesharing platform, launched as part of the recent NRMA Jumpstart program.
The startup, founded by Kevin Orr, is a business-to-business focused play. It offers large companies a ridesharing platform for their corporate staff – through this, the staff don’t pay for using the service, with the cost instead being covered by the corporate.
“On our platform users get rewarded if they rideshare,” says Orr. “Liftango is focusing on the longer journeys, we are not competing with the likes of Uber, we’re focused on the commute to work.”
One of the problems that Liftango is focused on creating a solution for is the lack of car parking spaces at the offices of large corporations, most of which have overburdened car parks that do not have enough space to cater for their employees. The other big issue is that most employees who drive a car travel solo to work.
To begin with, the startup is focusing on universities, handling students and staff, as well as hospitals and large corporates.
“Hospitals probably have the worst parking problems because they have so many people come back into their space,” says Orr. “They’ve got staff as well as patients. With the large corporates, a lot of them are in business parks so there are a number of different corporates. I guess we are focusing on the business park. We’re really looking at getting a large critical mass of users so if there are large corporates in the same area.”
There are a number of competitors in the carpooling space right now in Australia, but most of them stop at connecting a user and supplier to take a journey. Liftango’s platform takes things beyond the simple connection.
“We actually go another level further,” says Orr. “We actually go, great, you’ve connected and shared, we supply the technology to do that but then we actually facilitate them through the journey with couple of pretty cool features and we also reward them. Their company pays for the technology via a monthly subscription and essentially that’s it. A portion of the money that they pay goes back to rewarding the users. So we supply the technology but really we’re trying to make sure that the users are making the difference, they’re being inconvenienced in sharing their journey, so they’re the ones who get the rewards.”
The company has not yet raised funds aside from the capital received as part of the latest NRMA Jumpstart Program. Having said that, post the program’s December 15th pitch day, Orr says that he will be working towards a seed funding round though at this point in time he is not 100 percent sure on what that amount would be.
In terms of growth plans, being part of the NRMA Jumpstart program, which is managed by Slingshot, has been a huge win for the young company – the NRMA has a whole lot of customers in its database that are part of a safety on the roads and road sharing group. Orr said it has been extremely exciting working with them to develop the platform and technology.