RidePal, a company providing a turnkey commuter bus system for companies, is today announcing having closed half a million in seed funding from 500 Startups, Amicus Capital, and Jeff Clarke, Chairman of Orbitz. The system, which the company refers to as a “Google Shuttle for the rest of us,” offers shared commuting buses which are equipped with Wi-Fi, as well as a ticketing, reservation and management platform. The business customers who want to offer the service as a benefit to employees don’t have pay for the entire bus – instead, they only pay for the capacity they need, which allows them to save on costs.
The company currently offers 15 routes in the Bay Area, specifically between San Francisco and other cities in the south bay, east bay and the peninsula. It’s an area that makes sense for such a startup, as local companies compete fiercely for top talent and want to be able to offer a commuter bus as a recruitment and retention tool. Plus, it’s an area where the commuters themselves see the drive to work as time that could be better spent doing other things (at least when Wi-Fi is available.) And San Francisco works as a good test bed for these kind of companies because it’s rife with early adopters and a solid base of people willing to try more eco-friendly solutions.
For growing companies, like those that need to bring in employees from other areas outside of where they’re based, RidePal can function alongside other community shuttle programs. This allows the company to offer the commuter bus benefit to more employees, and can also offer the company a way to test and analyze routes (via RidePal’s reporting system) before determining whether or not to commit a bus of its own to service an area.
“We prioritize our new routes based on our corporate customers’ needs and the needs of our riders,” says Chief Revenue Officer Dominic Haigh, explaining how the funding will impact RidePal’s ability to serve new customers. “Companies can subscribe to a particular stop they need, for example, because they wish to retain a particularly valued employee who lives nearby, or close a key new hire.” Riders can also “Vote for a Ride” at the RidePal website, and provide details of their commute requirements when they register. “We don’t, therefore, have a specific plan for the specific routes and stops we will offer, but respond in real time to where we see most demand,” Haigh adds. “With this funding we can scale our infrastructure to handle several times the number of routes we currently offer.”
At present, RidePal is closing in on 600 registered users, Haigh says. It has agreements in place with a number of bus company partners, in order to have access to a large number of buses as and when they are needed. After establishing service in the Bay Area, the plan is to then start expansion to the top 20 urban clusters where RidePal’s research has shown to be the largest markets.
RidePal launched out of the San Francisco-based startup accelerator known as Greenstart, which is aiming to make the cleantech space a little sexier.