[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Nelson Azoulay” align=”alignnone” width=”500″][/media-credit]
During his commute, Azoulay–a Wesleyan University alumni who grew up in Old Lyme, Connecticut–was using Craigslist to find people in his area going to the same place. He said he created the app RydeHopper to make a safer environment for those who need to get rides or for those looking to make some extra cash. The app will launch in a few weeks.
In order to keep the app within the college network, those who sign up must have a working .edu email account. Therefore all drivers and riders must be students, alumni, faculty, staff or administration at a college.
The peer-to-peer app allows users to sign up a car to become a driver and make some extra cash. It also allows users to put in a date and time of a departure and return to see drivers in the area and other riders nearby going to the same place.
Vanessa Costa, a senior who has used taxis and Ubers at Quinnipiac, said she thinks this app will be a safer alternative for students.
“It sounds like a really good idea because it seems like it would be safer but I have to wonder how many students would be available to meet the demand for rides,” Costa said. “If there were people available though, I would probably prefer it over Uber.”
Users can see other riders and drivers within the college network at their university or at a nearby university.
“The default [setting] is within a 20-mile radius,” Azoulay said. “So users from Quinnipiac will see all the students leaving Quinnipiac within a 20-mile radius.”
Azoulay said users can only pay with a debit or credit cards because payments are made directly through the app.
Rides could range from a trip to the closest train station or across a few states so pricing rides based on mileage was out of the question.
“There was no way for us to dictate the price so the driver chooses the price,” Azoulay said.
Azoulay decided to launch the app in Connecticut first because he was raised in Old Lyme and attended school in the area. Throughout the years he said he noticed how difficult it is to get a taxi or ride-sharing service in a small town and wanted to change that.
“I was trying to find a market that I knew,” Azoulay said. “And because I lived [in Connecticut] for eight years and have connections within the college network, it just made sense.”
Even after developing the app, Azoulay’s work is still not done. Before expanding to other states with the app–which he hopes to do within the next six months–he has to recruit college ambassadors to spread the word about the app.
These college ambassadors will be compensated for their work.
“Maybe they get like 50 cents per download to get their friends to actually know about the app,” Azoulay said.
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