A Survival Guide for Ridesharing Companies in Austin

Lauren SeegersMobility

Now that the dust has settled with Uber and Lyft’s departure from Austin, numerous ridesharing companies are attempting to fill the gap. As you’ve seen in your news feeds, there’s been a large influx in new ridesharing companies coming to the Austin area over the past couple months, yet little have matched the reliable technology and low rates locals came to count on. With Austin positioned as the largest open market for ridesharing companies; a solution-oriented, thoughtful strategy is necessary.

With 150 people on average moving to Austin each day, it’s important to have numerous, reliable transportation options. The need for resolution even permeates from Austin’s taxi permit restriction, which only allows 900 cabs to operate within city limits. Although the city is now attempting to expand permitting for taxis, these restrictions translate into only one cab available per 967 Austinites.

As other ridesharing companies launch into Austin and compete for market share, I’d recommend learning from the previous months by implementing a strategy that’s key objective is connecting with the people of Austin. What will it take for a ridesharing company to succeed and win public approval?

1. A Local Management Team

Hire a management team of trusted transportation/tech experts and familiar faces to make it easier for the public to accept the new company.

2. Stronger Background Checks

Ask yourself: Why did Austin vote down Proposition 1? Safety. City policies require ridesharing companies to beef up their background checks, but going the extra mile to be transparent with honest communication compared to the competition will help companies succeed. Sure, there may be additional costs, but this is what’s most important to locals and will help set your company apart from the others.

3. Reliability

The app needs to perform at all times. Last weekend I tried five different ridesharing apps simultaneously. After attempting to find a ride for an hour, nothing worked. What would have happened if one of the apps had worked? The company would have secured a loyal customer and word-of-mouth influence among peers.

4. Partnerships

Take on a community issue and keep community leaders informed about what you’re doing. Make a presence in the community by partnering with local nonprofits or contributing to local charities. Consider humbly making the donation visible on the app. For example, “Fifteen percent of proceeds from your current trip will be donated to Austin Pets Alive.”

Promoting extensive background checks and continuously providing reliable, timely rides immediately can set your ridesharing company apart from the competition. Adding a local management team and taking on community issues will help ridesharing companies get on the right track to change public behaviors and perception, and offer the “go to” app to locals. Uber and Lyft left a huge gap – it remains to be seen who will be able to fill it.