YC-Funded Ridejoy: Make Some Dough Back On Your Next Roadtrip (And Maybe Some New Friends)

Looking to take a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles without putting a major dent in your wallet? Ridejoy, a YC-backed startup that’s launching today, might have exactly what you’re looking for. The service allows drivers who are already planning to take a roadtrip to ‘sell’ their extra seats to other users. The net result: drivers earn money on trips they were planning on taking anyway, and Ridejoy passengers get a door-to-door lift, in some cases for less than they’d pay for a bus ticket.

You may have seen Ridejoy before, at least in an early form: it did a one-off trial for Burning Man this year with BurningManRides.com — a site that helped people coordinate their trips out to the Nevada desert. 1600 people signed up, 1150 rides were posted, and 400 rides were completed over a three-week span. In a neat twist, five pilots offered rides-by-air, completing a total of ten plane trips.

With that trial successfully completed, the company is now opening its doors a bit wider. You can now use Ridejoy to book trips up and down the West Coast (starting at Vancouver, ending with San Diego). There’s a new route to Tahoe, a very popular destination for residents of Northern California. And you don’t necessarily have to be starting from or heading to the same place as your driver — if your pickup and/or dropoff points are on the way for them, Ridejoy can still find the listings. Each user has a profile including a photo and basic information, and you can Connect with Facebook to see if you share any mutual friends.

Update: The company has reached out to say that they’re focused on helping connect you with people you might find interesting (in other words, you might wind up making some friends). Also, they’ve clarified it’s technically against the law for drivers to make a profit, so they cap the rate at the AAA reimbursement rate of 25 cents a mile. But turns out you still can make money even at that rate (the cap from SF-LA is around $85).

In a fun promotion, Ridejoy is also coordinating rides to Y Combinator’s Startup School, which takes place tomorrow. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston will be offering a ride — you can sign up for his car right here (obviously they’re going to be screening these, as there will be a lot of requests).

Ridejoy has at least one major competitor: Zimride, which works with schools and businesses to establish ridesharing networks, and also allows users to ‘sell’ a seat in their car if they’re planning to go on a road trip. Ridejoy’s founders acknowledge that there’s overlap here, but they say that they’re focused exclusively on the latter feature — a seat marketplace, so to speak. And they say they’re working hard to make their community a differentiating factor.

Ridejoy makes money by taking a small cut of each transaction (they’re still testing exactly what number they’ll settle on, and are experimenting with 15%).