Unlike most startups, we at Ridj-it often find ourselves presented with what we feel is a rather odd question: why do we do what we do? Well, aside from the obvious “we are human and need to eat occasionally,” the answer to that question actually can be boiled down to another question: why carpool? So, in an effort to better connect with our users, and for the sake of transparency, we’ve decided to lay it all out for you right here. The reasons for starting a carpooling business (and why you should carpool in general) are complex, but can boiled down to basic points: it’s good for the environment, it increases reliability (and, by extension, access to the outdoors), it guarantees fair compensation to carpool, and it offers a unique social experience to our users. Basically, we saw a bunch of problems that bothered us and decided to fix them, and we did it in a way that allows us to pay our bills.
So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of the four reasons why we started a carpooling business (besides needing to pay rent).
For all Ridj-it trips, if users were to have taken a car to the trip destination instead of opting for Ridj-it’s carpool arrangement, there would have been 2,000 individuals who would have driven in 2,000 cars, as indicated on the left side of the graph. By contrast, the right side of the graph shows that Ridj-it’s carpool model was able to condense these 2,000 individual car trips to 500 car trips. In other words, Ridj-it’s carpool model reduced the volume of cars on the road, gasoline used, and the overall carbon footprint by about 75%.
One of the major motivations behind Ridj-it was addressing two similar issues: the tendency of people to 1) after agreeing to go on an outing, cancel last minute, and 2) push off committing to a trip until the last minute. Picture this scenario: a group of four friends plan to go camping at Acadia National Park, including one friend who has a car and has agreed to drive. This friend with the car backs out the night before the intended departure. Everyone’s plans are thrown into disarray. The exciting camping trip that everyone was looking forward to no longer happens. This friend no longer has friends. It just keeps getting darker.
Or, picture this: four friends talk about possibly going on a trip for the weekend, but each of them says “let me see what my schedule looks like, I’ll let you know.” Nobody confirms that they can commit to anything until Friday evening and it is too late to plan anything: the deadline to purchase tickets has passed, and it is too late to go out and buy any necessary equipment. Everyone spends the weekend on their couches. No one is happy.
Trips require having people to go places with and having a way to get there, and these last minute changes-of-plans make planning difficult: there is no guarantee of who will actually join you and how you will get there. Ridj-it’s carpool model solves these two logistical problems by serving as a network of outdoor enthusiasts, enabling individuals to find people beyond their social circles to go on trips with, and by creating policy that disincentivizes cancellations by drivers and riders alike. Drivers pay a $20 buy-in for every trip, which is returned if they successfully complete the trip and do not cancel less than 24 hours prior (like a security deposit). Riders are likewise not refunded or credited if they cancel less than 24 hours in advance or just don’t show up. These financial penalties have worked so far.
The graph above shows that almost 95% of finalized trips (meaning a trip email was sent out) proceed successfully, and only about 5% of of finalized trips are cancelled because a driver backs out last minute or doesn’t show. Approximately 20% of all finalized trips included one or more passengers that cancelled, but almost all of those trips proceeded successfully because the driver did not cancel and the other riders did end up going.
Fair and guaranteed compensation for drivers
For a trip, conversations about who owes who what can be awkward and are often not as simple as splitting the cost down the middle. Other times folks may agree with each other upon a set cost per person, but then those who are owed money are stuck waiting for their friends to pay up.
Ridj-it puts the guesswork to rest and removes the awkwardness of asking friends for money. It’s actually quite simple: every time a rider books for a trip, they pay for their share of the cost to the driver, and in turn, the drivers are remitted an electronic payment from Ridj-it that completely covers gas and travel to and from the destination (plus a little extra, because why not?). Ridj-it has created a formula that both sets the price for a ride and also sets the amount a driver receives. The formula considers the distance to the destination from the pick-up point, the number of seats occupied in a driver’s car, and the number of seats that are offered by the driver.
The graph above shows payout to drivers for a $30 trip, which includes trips from Boston to the White Mountains and back, for example. For a rider who pays $30 for a trip, the driver receives payment for that distance based on how many people they take and how many seats they offer.
The social experience
A ride together with new people to an outing with those people creates an exciting social experience that leads to the formation of new friendships with people who share your love of the outdoors, interactions that might broaden your own world view, and yes, even romantic relationships. The average Ridj-it outing consists of a total of seven people and two cars, meaning that on a single trip you get to meet six other people who have similar interests as you. Repeat Ridj-it users are exposed to new people on each outing, meaning that you could be meeting dozens of new people after just a few Ridj-it outings. One user who joined Ridj-it in September 2016, for example, went on about 50 trips and has met nearly 110 different individuals. Coordinated carpool is more than just the ride, it is also about the people you meet.